Now that the cold weather months have arrived, it’s time to give up bass fishing right? Well…not so fast!
While it is true that bass will get more lethargic as the water temperatures drop, you can still have some seriously good days of fishing in the winter…if you keep some basic principles in mind.
To get a better idea on how to tackle winter fishing, let’s bring in our resident bass expert and touring pro, Big Fred Contaoi.
“It is a common belief that bass are dormant this time of year,” Big Fred says. “But the truth is they continue to feed. They just get more sluggish as the water dips below 45 degrees. At that point, the fish won’t move far for their prey and they like slow-moving offerings.”
Find the Bait!
So, the biggest keys to success are to figure out what the fish are eating and where that prey likes to spend the winter.
“Baitfish dominate a bass’ diet in the winter as crayfish and other insects are often borrowed in the mud waiting it out until spring,” he says. “And as the water cools in late fall and early winter, the baitfish migrate into the coves — especially ones that have creeks flowing into them.”
If you can find a cove that has some weeds, wood or docks in it, so much the better!
“I will often start near the back of a creek and search for the best hangouts for both bait and bass,” he says. “Ledges close to shallow flats provide escape routes for bass. They feel most comfortable living in areas that offer food and safety.”
Watch your graph closely and look for bait balls. Also watch the surface for diving birds and boils. If no bait is present in the cove you’re fishing, don’t spend much time there — move on and keep searching.
For that one or two big bites that could put you into the money in a tournament, Big Fred recommends large swim and wake baits if you’re fishing waters that harbor larger prey like gizzard shad or trout. Fish these things near the surface and s-l-o-w! The best days are dark and stormy but not too cold or windy.
You’ll catch larger numbers of smaller fish on slow moving baits like Carolina rigs, jigs, drop shots, and split shot-rigged worms. Creek. Toss those babies into channels, shallow rocky areas and flats.
Winter Bass Fishing Hot Points:
- When the water gets below 45 degrees, bass are more lethargic and like a slow presentation
- Target areas with lots of baitfish — coves (especially ones with docks, weeds, wood and/or streams flowing into them)
- Watch your graph and look for bait balls or diving birds
- On dark days, try big swim baits and wake baits for jumbo-sized bass
- For keeper-sized bass, try Carolina rigged plastics, jigs, drop-shot rigs or splitshotted worms and go slow!