Spooning For Winter Bass
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
Winter does not have to be about going to fishing expos and staying inside. It can be a rewarding time of year for bass anglers. It is a good time to catch big fish if you know the right tactics and can deal with what mother nature is dishing out. Unlike Spring and Fall, Winter bites are few, but can produce some of your biggest bass- even in the dead of the winter. Perhaps one of the most productive winter weapons is the spoon. They come in different shapes and sizes, with some of the most popular brands being Acme Kastmasters, Hopkins Shorties, the Cotton Cordell C.C., and the Luhr Jensen Krocodile.
A spoon is a great way to target bass suspended deep in the water column. Spoons deliver a fluttering, fish-attracting descent that will vary in speed depending on the weight. Spoons are not complicated, being composed of sturdy metal hardware with strong, rust-proof hooks. The same spoons are often used for fresh and salt water. The particular shape of a spoon indicates a specific design intent- like producing a particular flutter or “swing” to the decent, setting a particular rate of decent, or providing a specific performance characteristic in certain types of current or wind conditions. Spoons often come in hammered nickel, silver or gold finish for extra flash. They range in weight from 1/4- to
1 1/2-ounces. Heavier spoons are used when there’s a strong wind. Despite design differences, the one shared objective of all spoons is to resemble a dying baitfish.
I have found that these lures can be effective whether you cast them and slow flutter hop them back, or work them vertically like jig.. They are known to be effective on largemouth, striped bass, white perch, white bass and spotted bass- even smallmouth. Spoons lend themselves to use as a search bait by making long casts in a fan pattern and slow rolling or hopping them back with twitches of varying sharpness and pauses of varying lengths. If you are working a specific piece of structure or a specific pod of bait, you can vertically jig them as you would any jig. I like to cast them, let them hit bottom, give it a pause, then rip it hard, tne let it
slowly settle again. The ripping can elicit a reaction strike.
As the water temperature gets colder, the bass will suspend and not chase the baits a long way. Therefore, the strike window is not nearly as big as it would be in the in the warmer months. As is often the case with such presentations, the retrieve is not an exact science and does require some experimentation and variation, also known as trial and error, but there are definitely some do’s and don’ts when it comes to spooning. Anglers fishing a spoon need to allow the spoon to fall on a tight line. If not, it will be difficult to know when the bass takes the bait. Remember, they are looking for an easy meal. Patience and working slowly is also a must. The fish are literally
waiting for a dying baitfish to fall on their plate. Whether using a vertical jigging presentation or
a casting and hopping retrieve, keep your line tight to feel the bite.
Even a dying shad has a reflective nature- no rust spots- so if your spoon is tarnished, use some fine steel wool to polish the finish, maybe even apply some chrome polish before you hit the lake. If you are vertically jigging in the presence of feeding fish, you definitely want to slow-drop your metal into the feeding mix, but don't let it fall too fast or unnaturally. Selection of the correct weight and line diameter will help the spoon have a natural fluttering decent through the pod, falling like any natural dying shad. In death there is very little horizontal movement. Therefore boat control becomes critical. You will need to maintain a position directly over the feeding forage ball. Electronics should be reading the baitfish formation on the screen, and they should also tell you if there are big fish feeding. Baitfish form a tight roundish ball (“pod”), appearing “larger than life” in an attempt to intimidate the predators and discourage their attacks. If the ball of baitfish appears broken into smaller segments or if spaghetti-like lines appear to dart out from the concentration, this is an indication that predators are feeding and dispersing the larger pod with their attacks. A trolling motor with spot-lock is ideal for this type of fishing.
In selecting your spoon, try and match the size and color to the baitfish that are in the water you are fishing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques-the more you learn the better you become as an angler. Clear water is typically a pre-requisite for successful vertical presentations. Although slightly stained water may work in the right light conditions, vertical spooning is typically not effective in murky, dingy waters. Fishing the spoon seems to work best on sunny days when the spoon flash of the “dying bait” is highly visible. So keep the "flash" in mind in your match the hatch experimentation.
Spooning in front of the fireplace is a popular winter activity, but getting out and spooing for big bass can also lead to a big reward. Just like spooning by the fire, spooning for bass, especially trying to present that natural dying action” to the spoon, requires constant attention, but there is no question it will result in some good winter action. Live the Passion!