This time of year it can be hard to decide where you want to go fishing, especially for a certain type of fish. It pays you to do your homework about different lakes and choose wisely.
Just a few months ago when it was warm and all the fish were active and feeding, going out to just about any decent lake would offer up some good fishing. But now the lakes have all been dropped to winter pool and have turned over with much cooler water temperatures. This changes everything and causes major movements and feeding patterns on most lakes.
For most fish it means a movement toward deeper, warmer water. But some fish like crappie and smallmouth bass will still use shallow water areas close to deeper water to feed and hold. These fish will be more active than the deeper fish, but will have to be fished for with different baits and different techniques.
There are things you can do to put the odds in your favor. Check out recent fishing reports online for the lake you are interested in fishing. Most of the time you can get actual fishing guide reports updated weekly. There is one very good online fishing site for which I used to do a lot of work with called fishin.com, which is a very good site for reports. You may also talk to anglers who fish these lakes this time of year.
So if you are going to brave the cold for a big smallmouth bass, this is the time to do it. Just take time to get all the information you need.