Here are some general observations based on my winter time experiences on Gibson over the last 30 or so years.
The flathead seem to almost hybernate during the winter months but do come out to feed on live bait (big shad or live perch) near their lair. I usually have the best luck where the river channel runs along steep rocky banks. From Rocky Point boat ramp south to Snug Harbor and also from Rickelson Ranch Cove south to Taylors Ferry are two long stretches where these conditions occur. The locals in the Rocky Point area leave snaglines in the water year round so be aware of their bottom hugging lines! I like to work within a few feet of the steep rocky banks in water around 20 feet deep.
Channels are a different story. The channels will still hit the same baits they have fed on all year in many of the same spots. The primary difference is they are moved closer to the dropoffs and deeper water and their bite is often much softer. Whether live or cut bait is used it should be changed often to maintain a good scent in the water. Locations on the lake are anywhere channels would be on any other lake - channels are channels no matter what lake!
Blues on the other hand seem to congregate in the deeper holes. Not that they are schooling but seeking more temperate water. Any place where you have had luck in the past you should look nearby for deeper water. A 10 foot drop or hole as much as 1/4 mile away isn't unusual. Blues range over large areas so follow the creek or river channels and find that deep hole. The blues will be there or very nearby.
Another note about blues that many of you already know but a few newcomers to catfishing may find interesting. Watch the BIRDS! In deep water the sandbass school the shad up to the surface and then attack, which we have all witnessed. They are sloppy eathers and the willy blue takes advantage of this fact by scouring the bottom for scraps as the dead shad and pieces fall to the lake floor. At the trailing edge of this shad slaughter you can cast a heavy lead spoon of some sort past the shad school and letting it fall quickly to the bottom (hopefully a sandbass won't grab it on the way down) and BOUNCE it back to the boat. If blues are there your line will sing a happy tune from the strain of a nice size blue!
There are several feeder creeks on Gibson which hold fish all winter. The same tactics apply to the creeks with the primary deep water being near the mouth of the creek. Jane Dennis and Clear Creek are good creeks. Jane has standing timber where Clear has fallen timber. They are both directly across the lake from Whitehorn Cove Marina/Restraunt and access is by boat only. Another good creek is Ranger Creek just north of the dam on the east bank. This creek has just about everything, including fishing pressure from bass fishermen in fair weather.
The hwy 51 bridge is kinda iffy in my books but some like to catfish there. I can't say anything really negative about the spot because I have had little time catfishing there. It should be good because it has steep rocky banks on the east shore and rip rap along the highway leading onto the bridge with flats near the rip rap. I dunno - I just need to put some effort into the area before I can give it a thumbs up! I do know that several bigguns have been noodled in that area though.
I'll get back to ya with more specific info as the winter goes along and I can narrow things down. If anyone has Ft. Gibson information or past experiences I am all ears!
As I've said before it has been a few years since I fished. I plan to hit the lake Tuesday and Wednesday for some juggin and driftin around the Toppers area.
I am gonna try throwing a cast net :ooooh: but just in case I've lost my touch I have a plan. Turning one of those styro minner buckets upside down over my head should work. Just knock out a couple of eye holes and I'll look like a Roman warrior!:lol:
I fished the Long Bay area today with very little luck. Jugs were placed along the creek channel between Rickelson Cove and Long Bay Marina with nothing but bait stealers paying any attention. Drifting the entire bay produced nothing but frustration. Even though there were few gulls, and they weren't flying, I tried sandbassing a few points and bars and got skunked. Various baits were tried such as cut shad, live shad, large shiners and chicken liver. Not a good day today!
The results weren't surprising though. I was late getting to the water and as I pulled from my driveway a local basser stopped to let me know the fishing was tough. He had cought 3 bass all morning and those had came off boat ramps. Once on the water a local guy fishing for anything that would bite gave the same report.
The wind was about 90 and out of the south shifting to southwest as the day went along. Temps were around 90. Over the next few days winds are expected to be out of the east and temps supposedly will drop a little.
Located some blues in the backend of Long Bay early this morning. They were scattered in shallow water near the banks for the most part. I only had a few fresh shad and a baggie of cut shad. They took the cut shad as well if not better the the live shad. Weight ranged from 2 to 5 pounds and one I'm guessing at 8 pounds. I didn't count but around 8 were cought within 2 hours, until the sun was up above the trees then they just shut down.
With 2" of rainfall over a two day period I expected more runoff than what we actually had on Gibson. It appears the ground was much drier than I had thought.
Even so, the blues were working where I expected. I ran a very short distance from the Toppers ramp west to the backwaters where small WPA bridges span the shallows and picked up several 2-5 pounders and one 32lb blue. All were caught on live shad and perch.
I put new bunks and carpet on my boat trailer today and my younger brother showed up just in time for the last board! Uncanny timing!
He decided since my boat was in the water it would be a shame not to go for a boat ride so away we went with him at the controls! We stopped at several fishing places and picked each others brain for information. We had a great time but he summed it up when he said he wished his fishing paid enough for him to be on the water somewhere every day. I knew exactly what he meant. Not that it is what I ever wanted but I knew how close he came to doing just that not so many years ago.
All in all it was a great day. I shared some premium time with my younger brother doing what we both love to do. When we were kids we fished together and as adults we taught our kids about fishing. Now we are fishing together again.
Sorry about the time and space but I just had to share my great day!
Hiya Matt - Just as a suggestion for the first time visitor to the lake I would recommend starting in the Taylor's Ferry area. West of the lake about a mile is Morgan's Corner who has about anything at the store you might need and it's also the turnoff to the Taylor Ferry camping area.
From camp you can see the hwy51 bridge crossing the lake. The old highway bed runs along the south side fo the riprap and south of the bridge. Years ago we used the highway at the west bank as a boat ramp. On the east bank you can easily spot the old roadbed. With the wind from the south for a few days the southside of the rip rap, roadbed and bridge are surefire spots to locate sandbass. The northside of the riprap is protected from the wind and there are some crappie hotspots (brush) scattered in the area. The cove south of the bridge on the east bank has a marina which is part of Sequoyah State Park.
Just north of the bridge is Taylor Ferry North with another full marina. From there the west bank has great structure along the steep rock walls and boulder areas in 20-30 feet of water. This particular stretch of rock is my favorite spring time catfish spot. The channels hug the deep rock walls to spawn around 5' deep over the deep water with it's car sized boulders. Large live shad or perch fished under a big bobber pitched tight against the rock face will put a grin on yer face and fish in the boat for sure. Don't miss this one if you fish Gibson in the spring!
Farther north of Taylor Ferry is Sequoyah Bay with more camping, full marina and heated fishing dock. There are other bays such as Wahoo and Jackson that produce well depending on what the fish are doing. One is more gravel and rock with steep banks while the other is gradual banks with better flats in the back end. There are also steep rock walled bank areas which act like a magnet to spawning cats.
I could go on and on about the potential of various areas but a good topo map of the lake and time on the water will do much better than my rambling. Any of the marinas or bait shops in the area will give the most current answers to fishing questions. And don't hesitate to drop me a line.