When it gets cold, serious fishermen don’t stay home; they find a fish to target that likes cold weather. At least that’s the tactic that guide Colt Bass of Colt Bass Fishing uses.

Bass said that the burgeoning population of smallmouth bass on North Carolina’s Lake James will still bite through January, especially if you can hit some mild weather.

“Both sides of the lake have old river channels -— the Linville and Catawba — and I like to find main-lake points that run out plumb into the river channel,” said Bass (828-381-3426). “I target them more than secondary points.”

Bass will fish Carolina rigs with small circle hooks and small shad, 21/2 to 3 inches long. He prefers threadfins, but they can be hard to get, especially in winter. Small gizzard shad will work just fine — small is the key word.

“There are times in January where you just won’t see ‘em on your depth finder; then, you’ve just got to fish the structure,” he said. “I don’t have to see them to catch them. I can work a point over in a few minutes, and if they’re there, I’ll find them.”

And if he finds one, Bass said there’s a good chance others are close by. He said smallmouth will school up during the winter, and if you can get one fish to bite, it can get the whole school energized.

“I’ve had three or four on at one time in the boat,” he said. “If you can find a school, you can wear ‘em out.”

Whether he sees fish on his electronics or runs into them fishing blind, Bass said that you need to keep your bait right on their noses to draw a strike. “It is January, and these fish aren’t gonna move much, but they can’t stand a shad in their faces,” he said.