Oasis noun a fertile spot in a desert where water is found.
In the sense that I am using the word "oasis", the water is still in its liquid state. Each river, creek or lake we crossed on the way to the thermal oasis we found last Saturday was frozen solid. It is January after all. But upon reaching our destination, we found ice free emerald green flowing water. 52-degree water oozed out of the clay banks on either side of the small river. The warming effect of several springs in that section of river provided an opportunity to fish when other nearby waters were locked up in ice.
My buddy Brent and I dragged our kayaks down under the bridge and paddled a short distance upstream. I had a hit on the first cast and landed a scrappy 11 inch largemouth. Brent followed with a fish several times the size of my dink. By the end of our short day on the water, we caught dozens of smaller fish, and a few bigger largemouth—one weighing in at 4 ½-pounds.
How To Locate Springs
So how do you locate such an area? It mostly comes down to leg work. I spent many Saturdays on the road, scouting access points on different rivers before noticing that this particular section of river never froze up.
People like to name things after springs. "Carson Springs Road" or "Cold Spring Dairy" are both examples of places near spring influenced rivers. Caverns are also good markers of places where you are likely to find 52-degree water pushing to the surface. The same underground moving waters that open up spaces underground come to the surface warming bodies of water. Streams that hold trout year round are likely spring influenced and stay relatively the same tempter year-round. Waterfowl seem to always know where to find open water as well. Often on lakes or streams that won’t ice up, you will find massive flocks of ducks and geese. Also, keep an eye out for the more obvious marker, lush green vegetation interrupting a blanket of snow.
You Need More Than Just Warm Water
The presence of springs doesn't mean fish move to these areas to stay warm. They concentrate in the same types of pools that they would without the warming influence—deep areas with little to no current. The series of pools my buddy and I fished last weekend fit that requirement. One pool was 8-feet deep, another reached 15-feet, and the uppermost eddy of the upstream pool had a ledge rock diverting current away from one bank, leaving nearly still water along one shoreline. So the combination of deep currentless pools and spring warmed water results in spring-like action in the dead of winter.
To watch Jeff's day at his local spring hole unfold, watch the following preview episode of the Tight Line Junkie's Journal.