BASS BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE
Updated: Dec 22, 2022
In the northern reaches of the country, ice fishing will soon be in full swing. But for the rest of us who Live the Passion, as long as we can launch our boats and reach spots that are ice-free, we fish for bass throughout the winter. Clearly, the weather plays a key role in winter fishing, and I have found that if you have two or three consecutive days of stable weather, the bass will be active, especially in areas where the water temps are also favorable- either the stability of deeper depths, or in shallower bays or creek mouths where the warmth of the sun has attracted some bait. It is the instability of the cold fronts that shuts down the fishing.
If you find that string of stable days and have the time to get on the water, there are some tried and true baits you should have rigged and ready. One favorite cold water lure is the suspending jerkbait. Good seasonal colors include those with a bit of flash- black/chrome, blue/chrome, purple/pearl, and even clown with chartreuse. The combination of its ability to stay in the strike zone longer, combined with a good, slow, yet erratic retrieve, makes a suspending jerkbait ideal for catching sluggish cold water bass. These baits should feature a finish that can take
advantage of the sunlight. Your standard jerkbait retrieve, slowed even further and combined with a willingness to experiment, works well in the clear to slightly stained waters of winter. Wintertime bass often suspend 10 to 15 deep depending on the thermal layer, and they like secondary points and channel bends- places where they can easily move into shallower water if the weather is right. As a final tip for this style of fishing, you could use a soft plastic swimbait or fin-s style bait as a jerk-style crankbait substitute.
On calmer, sunny days it’s good to also have a ½ or 3/4oz jig ready to throw. You can tip it with a chunkier style soft plastic like a grub, craw, tube or pork style bait. Slow hopping or dragging
this presentation on hard of rocky bottoms is a good way to entice winter bass to bite. Good color combos include brown/purple jigs with a green pumpkin trailer Try or black/blue jigs with a black/blue or black/chartreuse trailer if the water is a little murky. A green pumpkin or brown finesse jig tipped with a green pumpkin or root beer/green flake plastic chunk is a top choice for fishing chunk rock banks on a warmer winter day. Drag the jig hop the jig slowly down the bank or ledge and keep continuous contact with the bottom. A good method for working any winter jig presentation is to cast the jig to shallower water, letting it fall to the bottom, then lift your rod about 6 inches to either hop(sharp motion) or drag(slow lift) the jig, and then repeat. Keep your
rod tip low to make sure the lure maintains contact with the bottom throughout your retrieve.
One presentation I keep rigged that you might not normally associated with cold water is a spinnerbait. Slow-rolling a spinnerbait around cover or along a rocky bottom can produce strikes from winter bass in stained to murky water. Good murky water colors like white and/or chartreuse in a ¾ or ½ oz size with gold and nickel willow-leaf blades will work well with a stop-and-go retrieve. Wherever you can, don’t be afraid to bang the blade bait into cover, letting it flutter down after to trigger a reaction strike.
Jigging a spoon is a classic winter presentation worthy of being on the deck. This method of fishing is covered in a separate article at https://www.ibass360.com/post/jig-a-spooning-for-winter-bass so I won’t repeat it, but if your lake has standing timber on it, switch to a 1/4-ounce
bucktail jig in white or gray. This presentation will hang up less in the wood cover. My last go to for winter is a blade bait like the Silver Buddy. Again, it is important to keep contact with the bottom. This bait will create a strong vibration on the lift, so work it like you would a jig or jigging spoon. The silver or gold color will produce flash that also will help a lethargic bass dial in.
At the end of the day, a short day in winter, cold water bass fishing is about finding the right combination of weather, water temperature and presentation. There will always be a lot of trial and error but there is no question that if you put in the time, you will reap the reward.