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Wednesday, May 31st
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Winter Bass Fishing

Winter Bass Fishing

Even though many anglers hang up their gear and winterize their boat a the close of fall, winter can be one of the best times to catch a true trophy.

In winter, bass will slow down and move deeper along with eating much less. Because of this pattern, we must adapt our techniques. Before you begin fishing, you need to find the fish. Since bass do not move much in winter, they can be very predictable if you can find them.

When finding fish, preciseness is key because any cold-water fish does not have the energy to chase a fast-moving bait. The three types of locations that I find bass on in the winter are rocks, hard cover, and deep hollows.

Rocks are one of the easiest places to find winter bass. If you are in a pond or lake with a mainly mud bottom, you can pinpoint the bass on one of the few deep rock piles in the lake. Even if you do not find fish on one rock patch, do not give up. Normally all the bass are located on 1 or 2 rocky spots, usually those close to cover or food. If you are near a lake with a completely rocky bottom, you must work a bit harder to find these fish. The rock- holding bass in these lakes will be found near bigger rocks, bluffs and boulders. Here I will target high percentage spots like humps, creek channels, points, and chunk rock banks.

Bass will also be located on hard cover. This normally consists of docks, roadbeds, and brush piles. Bass will often congregate in very large schools near these types of structure, allowing you to fire up a school and catch many bass very quickly. The good thing about hard cover is that you can find it in almost any lake with very few differences in the way you fish it. Wood piles that stick out of the water can attract heat, making bass want to come to it. In addition, these structures often harbor baitfish for the bass to eat. Docks are proven bass-holding areas, and they still produce in the winter. Since metal holds heat very well, docks with metal lifts and poles will normally have more bass than wooden ones.

Deepwater hollows can also be a great option for big bass. Hollows are open deep expanses of water. Schools of bass will be scattered offshore in these areas. When fishing hollows, remember the depth where you catch a fish because there will be many more fish in that same depth range. These deep flats can many fish on the few structures there are here. Hollows are a great location to catch bass if they are available to you.

Now that you know where the fish are, you must have the right bait and setup to catch them. Winter bass baits are normally smaller and slower than baits used in the rest of the year. Due to bass’ slower metabolism and movement, you want to keep your bait in front of the fish for as long as possible. If you work your bait slowly, you need to remember to drop down to light line (6-12lb.) and natural colors, as the fish will inspect your bait more carefully. This makes suspending jerkbaits, Alabama rigs with small swimbaits (3-5 inches), finesse jigs, and shaky heads highly effective.

Suspending jerkbaits are exceptional in the winter due to its erratic action and the ability to fish very slow. These baits suspend in the water column just like an injured baitfish. You fish them with a cadence of 1-3 rips on a slack line before a pause of 10-15 seconds. The pause allows a bass to look at the bait before eating it, and it makes the bait seem natural in slow water. I fish jerkbaits on a medium-heavy (MH) power and fast action spinning rod with 8-10-pound fluorocarbon fishing line. The light line makes the bait dive deeper into the water, making it easier to catch deeper bass.

Alabama rigs or “A-rigs” are a great way to catch suspending, shad eating winter largemouths. An A-rig is comprised of a wire base with a line tie, head, blades, and 5 wires to put your swimbaits on. I fish my A-rigs over chunk rock banks and parallel to docks or other cover. I throw it on a 7’6” Heavy (H) power fast action Flippin’ Stick armed with straight 50-pound braided line. I rig my 2 top arms on the rig with Owner CPS springs and 3.8 Keitechs as my teasers. The 2 side arms are armed with a 1/8 oz J-Will swimbait head and a 4.3-inch Keitech swimbait in Pro Blue-Red Pearl color. My middle arm has the same jig head as the sides but has a 4.8-inch Keitech instead of a 4.3. Before you fish your A-rig, remember to bend out all arms but the middle ¼-inch from the head.

I fish both finesse jigs and shaky heads very similarly in the winter time. I like a black and blue or a green pumpkin finesse jig in the winter with a matching color trailer. On my shaky heads, I use a Green pumpkin, Aaron’s Magic, or Desert craw finesse worm from 4-6 inches long. I fish both baits with a slow drag over rocky bottom. I fish them on a 6’6” Medium Heavy spinning rod with 15-pound braided line and an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader.

Even though wither bass fishing can be tough, you can find some great opportunities to catch some great (and monster) bass.

Rods and Reels I use for Winter bass

St. Croix Avid spinning rod 6’6” MH (x2)
Shimano Sahara 4000 FA (x2)
St. Croix Avid Casting rod 7’ Medium
Daiwa Tatula 150
Lews TP-1 7’6” Heavy
Daiwa Tatula 150 HS
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