During the holidays, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states were treated to some pretty pleasant winter temperatures. Looking ahead at the long-term forecast now that the ball has dropped, it appears true winter is on its way back. For anglers that live close to power plant lakes, otherwise known as “hot hole lakes,” freezing temps aren’t quite as intimidating. In fact, there’s nothing I enjoy more than throwing a buzz bait on a hot water bank during a frigid morning and actually getting blow-ups. That precious influx of warm water often keeps bass acting like it’s summer. At the same time, it’s not summer, and these hot water bass can be rather unpredictable. Many anglers assume that the hot hole will be on fire, so to speak, all the time, but it’s just not the case. That’s why you have to be rigged and ready to tackle the cold parts of a hot hole lake.
Most of the warm discharges on power plant lakes will only affect a radius of several miles, leaving some parts of the overall body of water cold. What is absolutely true about the hot zone is that fish living in it will feed more often, but where and how they feed can be a mystery that constantly changes. On the other hand, fish in the rest of the lake will exhibit more conventional behaviors and offer more stability and consistency from one visit to the next, even if that means fewer bites and a shorter feeding window.
To fish these areas effectively, you have to essentially forget about the hot zone. For example, if the common wintering habitat for bass in a non-hot hole lake down the road is deep, rocky ledges in 20 feet of water, there’s a good chance you’ll find them in the same place on the cold parts of a hot hole lake. I’ll admit it’s very difficult to entirely switch gears when you had your heart set on that summer-like action in the hot area, but at the same time, if the warm water fish are lock-jawed, being prepared to fish cold can save the day.