More than 20 years ago, Eric Prey moved to the Ozarks to work for Bass Pro Shops, making his lifelong passion into his profession as a fishing guide. Quickly, he fell in love with fishing in the Branson area and began learning the secrets of wintertime fishing on Table Rock Lake.
“Most people don’t realize how good the fishing actually is during the wintertime,” says Prey, owner of Focused Fishing Guide Service. “Most bass fishermen, if they go out and catch four or five fish, that’s a great day. In the wintertime, it’s not uncommon to catch 45, 50 fish in four hours.”
Gearing Up for a Great Catch
The biggest challenge to successful wintertime fishing comes down to having the right gear. You have to be dressed for the weather and potential changes, says Tory Mason, fisheries management biologist and ice fishing expert at the Missouri Department of Conservation. “You definitely need to dress warm and have good waterproof boots on; tennis shoes don’t cut it,” Mason says. “Warm gloves are also a must.”
But you also need to have the right equipment in your boat, like an excellent sonar depth finder that has a large screen on it with a color display, Prey says. “If you know how to use the electronics in the boat, the fish are actually easier to catch in the winter months,” he says. “Without a quality depth finder right now, you’re lost. You can’t find the fish.”