Winter time in the Lake Texoma area normally drops our lake’s water temperature into the forties and it also positions fish on deep water structure. While some days can be highlighted with good numbers and size of smallmouth, largemouth or striper, many are sluggish. For those anglers looking to remedy the slower action during our winter months, there are a few options not too far away.
If you are an avid fisherman or woman and haven’t experienced one of the warm water power plant lakes, you are missing out on some remarkable winter time bass fishing. Lakes Welsh and Monticello, located a couple of hours east of the Lake Texoma area along Interstate 30, offer a unique change to typical winter fishing patterns. As most lakes are slowing down for the months of December and January, the largemouth bass on Welsh and Monticello are in prime pre-spawn and spawning modes.
Both of these East Texas lakes are only one to two thousand acres in size and are utilized in the cooling of coal burning power plants located on their banks. Because of the small size and continuous inflow of warm water, these lakes remain in the 60-80 degree range throughout the winter. Lakes Welch and Monticello are excellent for numbers of fish, but are also famous for big bass as each has once held the Texas state record.
Lake Welsh, built in 1976, is a 1,200 acre reservoir located just south of Mt. Pleasant, TX. Anglers will find a multitude of fishing options as the lake has plenty of flooded timber and hydrilla and milfoil aquatic grasses. Some of the best winter fishing is to target both pre-spawn and spawning bass by throwing weight-less soft plastics in and around the edges of the flooded grass. The lake record largemouth bass, caught in December of 1983, is a hefty 15.23 pound fish. Welsh is an 18 inch minimum lake for all species of bass and is accessible by the one public boat ramp built on its west shore.
Lake Monticello, a 2,000 acre impoundment, was built in 1972 and is located just south of Interstate 30 between the towns of Mt. Vernon and Mt. Pleasant, TX. This lake is responsible for the lunker bass boom that began in the early ’80’s. Its lake record bass (14.90 pounds), caught in February of 1980, broke the previous Texas state record that was held for 37 years. When word of the fourteen pound largemouth spread throughout the state, Lake Monticello became one of the premier bass lakes in the southwest.
This East Texas Lake also has a variety of cover for anglers to fish including flooded timber, hydrilla and lily-pads. Some of the best winter time bass fishing is located on the northern end of the lake. Anglers can pursue spawning fish with soft plastics and spinner-baits in and around the dead lily-pad stems found in its two northern creeks. Another area to fish is just outside the hot water discharge. Carolina rigs and crank-baits work well on schooling fish that are positioned in the current. Lake Monticello has a 14 to 21 inch slot limit for bass that offers a great opportunity to catch multiple four to five pound fish.
The best time to plan a trip to these lakes is during the week as most weekends play host tournaments during the winter months. If you have never been to a power plant lake, use extreme caution when boating in the early morning hours as a thick fog will cover the entire surface. Visibility will only be a few feet until the sun warms the surrounding air.
Normally the coldest days of winter are the best on these power plant lakes. Dress in layers for warmth but also remember that the surface of the lake will be warmer than the adjacent land. If your hands or fingers get numb from the cold, just stick them in the water to heat up.