You have an itch to go bass fishing but waiting until spring seems inconceivable. Although winter isn’t considered the ideal time for bass fishing, it is arguably the best time to catch larger fish, like the largemouth bass, that bulk up in winter months. Here are a few tips to improve your chances at winter bass fishing.
Slow Down Your Presentation
Fish are cold blooded creatures and when the water temperature drops below 50 degrees, their metabolisms slow down and as a result, so do their reaction times and feeding behaviors. In the winter, slow down your presentation to give fish ample time to react to the lure and respond. Slow down your hook set as well, just long enough until you feel the bass hit the lure, then set the hook.
Use the Right Lure & Bait
The most effective bass lures in cold waters are grubs, jigs, and spinnerbaits. A grub with a four inch curly tail paired with a ¼ ounce jig is a great combination to cast over a bank with a slope over 45 degrees. Bass prefer these areas in the winter months because they can make depth changes without having to expend a lot of energy moving around. In regards to the size of your lure in winter months, there are arguments for both a small and large lures. Large lure advocates argue that winter bass will not waste their energy chasing or eating a small fish. While those that advocate for small lures argue that winter bass will eat small fish because it takes less energy to catch and eat the smaller fish compared to larger ones. Be prepared with both small and large lures and alternate between the two finding which works best for you. Although fishermen do not usually like using bait, it is not a bad idea in the winter months to increase your chances. Always remember to keep your lures and bait as warm and lively as possible and switch often in winter months.
Seek Out Ideal Spots & Keep Moving
In the winter, bass will seek out warmer waters while still staying deep enough to stay safe without having to move very far from their fall feeding spot. Look for shallow areas that the sun reaches, the entrance of small streams, areas with no ice, and spots where you spot bait fish that attract bass. Shallow spots with greenery increase your chances of finding fish, which according to professional angler Art Ferguson III attract fish to these spots because the oxygen from the greenery increases their metabolisms. If you’re not having much luck in a specific spot, move around. Unlike the summer time, winter bass fishing has less pressure and most fishermen are turned off by the cold weather and extreme conditions leaving the bass lakes open for you to explore.
Patience & Safety
The most important tool is patience. Winter fishing isn’t like summer fishing since it tends to be slower and more dangerous. Take your time and stay safety minded on the water, especially in extreme conditions. Consider buying or renting a satellite phone in case of emergencies. And don’t forget to bring hot coffee, some soup, and always wear your PFD.