Winter bass fishing isn’t for everyone – just those willing to put up with frigid temperatures and slow bite in hopes of catching a bass.
Try these approaches this winter.
1. TARGET TRANSITIONS: Experienced bass anglers know that bass often gravitate to ” transitions,” places where one type of bank, bottom, depth or cover condition shifts to a different type.Bass don’t move around much in waters below 50 degrees and instead like to hang out in a spot that offers them a variety of good hunting and concealment options in a compact area.
2. FISH SMALL PONDS: I catch dozens of bass every winter by fishing ponds and streams. Plus they receive little fishing pressure, so bass have a chance to grow bigger in them.A jig and pig or a spinnerbait is my top choices for winter bass: I present both baits with short underhand pitches tight to wood or rock cover. The bass strike zone shrinks in cold water.
3. HEAVY METAL: When bass are holding from 18 to 35 feet, which they are in winter on clear, rocky lakes. A metal spoon/blade or tailspinner is the most efficient way to catch them. These lures sink into the strikezone quickly, and when worked properly, emit the flash and vibration of living baitfish.I like jigging a spoon for bass suspended in deep water “hallows” ( v-shaped creek arms ), a blade bait on sloping banks and a tailspinner on deep flats. “Fish the spoon vertically, the blade like you’d fish a jig and the tailspinner with a slow, horizontal retrieve just off the bottom, a long, stiff rod will give you the hook-setting power you need in deep water.
4. PROBE SHALLOW POCKETS: Pockets are small, shallow indentations in tributary arms, and they can be great in winter. Baitfish begin stacking up in shallow pockets with a muddy bottom starting in November and usually stay there until the water drops below 45 degrees.The best time to fish them is on calm, sunny days, that’s when you’ll often see shad flipping on the surface.My favorite big-bass approach is to slow-roll a spinnerbait, reeling just fast enough to keep the blades from churning up the bottom. SLOW RETRIEVE!
5. DEEP WATER TRICK FOR SHALLOW CRANKBAITS: I like to take a small, minnow-imitating floating crankbaits with chrome or gold finish for this approach. I use a soft-action rod, I slide a 1-ounce egg sinker onto 14lb main line, then place a bead and swivel below the sinker and add a 3=foot leader of 8lb mono filament with a floating minnow lure on the end.This setup allows you to fish a hard bait 30-40 feet deep. Cast to deep rock piles or ledges, let the sinker hit bottom, twitch the rod tip, pause and twitch again. The crankbait will flash and suspend, imitating a dying baitfish.