The boat ramp was empty. The snow hadn't yet quit blowing. There was a stiff wind and the temperature was 18.

Yet there Jason Tibbetts and Rob Coleman were about to launch their boat at the Jaycees Boat Ramp on Highway 69 at Warrenton to head out on the lake fishing. 

To be fair, they weren't just fishing for fun. The men, both Virginians, are in town this week for the big Toyota Series bass tournament. 

The snowy morning trip was about going out and making sure the cold front hadn't moved their bass. 

As Virginians, they're used to fishing in the cold.

"I guess this is kind of unusual for here, right?" Rob said. 

"We were hoping for the 60s," Jason added. 

The cold weather can be difficult on fishing equipment, Jason said. 

"If you take your rods inside and they warm up, then get cold again, they can sweat and freeze up," he said. "You have to be very careful."

The men had been finding fish in practice. The purpose of their snowy morning run was to make sure they were still there. 

"We're checking the water temperature to see if it has changed 2 or 3 degrees, which it could have," he said. 

He said the fish they'd found were "moving up," the universal term among anglers for bass that are coming up from their deepwater winter haunts, staging just outside the spawning flats. 

"They're pretty aggressive," Jason said. "We won't do a lot of fishing today. It will be more riding and graphing and checking temperatures. We're kind of on a pattern and we want to make sure it holds up."

He said winter fishing can be tough so the angler has to be equally tough so he doesn't lose his edge as he grinds away waiting on a bite. 

"We know they're biting," Jason said. "It took over 21 pounds to win the BFL last weekend. They didn't have a major cold front to contend with though."

Jason is fishing the Central and Northern division of the Toyota Series this year, trying to qualify for the next higher series. 

The tournament had been scheduled to run Tuesday through Thursday. But the impending winter event forced the tournament officials to change it to Wednesday through Friday. 

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