Winter, a word that almost every avid bass angler dreads…almost. Winter bass fishing marks the end of a phenomenal bite when the fish were pushed up in the shallows, chasing baitfish and putting the feedbag on.
Now, these fish are moving into their wintertime haunts offshore, and preparing for colder weather. While many anglers are storing their boats for the winter and putting their gear away until warmer weather, there are still a few who brave this colder weather in search of some giants. You read that right, giants.
Winter bass fishing can be one of the best times of the year to catch your biggest fish of the season. This time of year, fish are grouping up in deeper water to prepare to hide out for winter, but even in this cold-water fish still have to feed.
Granted, everything you do will be slowed way down and your retrieves that once took 30 seconds are now taking multiple minutes. With large groups of fish comes competition, no matter what the temperature is. This can be a recipe for big fish.
What To Look For?
So now that I’ve talked it up, its time to figure out where you want to look to try to find these schools of fish. The biggest key is trying to find the active fish in the groups. The first major thing you want to key in on is deeper water. This term “deep” is a very relative term. You’re going to want to look for the deepest parts of any fishery.
To some that might mean 12 feet and to others it could mean 100 feet, depending on the lake. The next key thing to look at is quick changes in depth. These fish aren’t going to move a hundred yards up a slow tapered point to feed. They are more apt to move up and down in the water column to take advantage of any warm spells and take advantage of these short windows to feed. Things like creek channel swings are great things too look for.
When Should I Fish?
As I mentioned previously, these feeding windows can be short. So, you could be on the right spot, but if they aren’t feeding it can be brutal. This means you have to try to time it just right. The best winter bass fishing times that I have found from experience and talking to others, is first thing in the morning or when the day is at its warmest point.
Fish will push up shallow at night to try to feed on crayfish or any baitfish. This means you have a chance to catch them before they sink back down in the morning. If you have a week of 35-degree days and then a 45-degree day, I would make sure to be on your most productive winter spots during that warmest day. The fish will take advantage of a few degree temperature change to put some food in their stomachs.
What Should I Fish?
This time of the year, unlike most other times, there isn’t a whole lot of variety in the baits you can throw. I try to make my selection as thin as possible due to the fact I’m fishing so much slower I don’t want to be thinking about all of the things I should try. I stick to a few of my confidence baits, swimbaits, jerkbaits and a shaky head to cover water.
A drop shot, jigs, and worms with little action such as ned rigs and senkos worked when I found a productive area. Everything underwater has slowed movement, nothing down there is moving crazy fast, so that’s what you want to imitate. If you think you are moving your bait too slow the standard thing to do is go slower!
So, keep these winter bass fishing tips in mind next time you’re thinking about packing up your gear for the winter and hopefully it’ll result in some of your best fish of the year!
This post was guest written by:
Penn State Bass Fishing Team
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