The first time I ever met Memphis resident Ron Wong, I came away impressed with his ability to turn a bowl of doctored-up corn meal into the absolute best tasting, crunchy and tangy hush puppies I have ever eaten, bar none.
The occasion was media weekend on Arkansas’s Little Red River where we were hosted by the folks at Lindsey’s Trout Dock. I also noted that when the meal was finished, Wong was working his way among the group with his camera, snapping photos of the participants. The next day on the water, I saw him several times in a passing boat, not holding a fishing rod but his trusty camera, documenting the rest of us working on the rainbow trout the Little Red is known for.
In addition to his cooking expertise and the magic he produces with his camera, Ron works alongside a media friend, Larry Rea, who hosts Larry Rea Outdoors on Memphis-area radio stations.
There this hard-working fellow really stands out, though, is when he grabs his bass fishing rod and lures and heads for a lake. Social media outlets regularly show photos of Ron holding the lip of a gigantic bass just before releasing it.
Now that cold winter weather has set in and many bass anglers put away their rods until the spring spawn, I gave Wong a call to see how he manages to catch big bass even with temperatures below freezing.
“If you want to go out in below freezing weather, you’ll notice the eyes on your rod have a tendency to freeze up, making casting and retrieving virtually impossible. I always carry along a can of vegetable spray, such as Pam, and spray the eyes and also the reel to prevent ice from forming,” Wong said.
“Another suggestion is to wait until at least around noon on those frigid days to give the water a chance to warm up a degree or two, especially on the north and northeast banks,” he said.
Even when the weather and water temperature is cold, bass still must eat but Wong noted that they don’t eat as much as they don’t move around nearly as much in cold water.
“The key to locating bass in cold water is to find the bait fish. They tend to ball up in areas where the water is a degree or two warmer. In water 20 feet deep, it may be coldest nearer the bottom but you might find the shad balled up halfway up the water column at 10 feet.
“I like to use a Strike King swim bait in a shad color on a plain 1/8 ounce jig head using a 3-0 hook. I’ll count it down to where it’s just below the bait fish ball so that when a bass decides to eat, it will see my bait first. You don’t want to fish it fast but slowly swim it, pausing every four or five cranks to keep it below the shad.
“Another good bait,” Wong added, “is an umbrella rig and I’ll put small size baits in shad color on the side wires with a slightly larger and different color jig on the middle wire. All you need to feel is one thump before setting the hook,” he continued.
Finally, said Wong, if the water is clear, look for cover such as standing trees, lay-down logs or especially stumps. Sunlight will penetrate the water and warm the side facing the sun a degree or two. That’s where the fish will be, he says.
From an accomplished chef to an award winning photographer to a radio co-host to one of the country’s best bass anglers, Ron Wong is the complete package.
Photo: Ron Wong is a whiz at landing outsized bass even in the dead of winter. (Submitted photo).
Editor’s note – Award-winning north Louisiana outdoors writer Glynn Harris, a Lincoln Parish resident, grew up in Goldonna and is a Northwestern State alumnus. His column will appear weekly, on Thursdays in future weeks, in the SBJ.
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