One thing a lot of anglers don't appreciate
about winter bass fishing is how active the bass are at times. Too many
guys think all the fish are sitting on the bottom of the lake, in the
deepest water they can find, hoping against hope for an early spring.
They aren't. Many of them are active, and they're active in shallow
The key to catching wintertime bass is weather
stability. Anytime the weather is stable — ignore absolute values for
air or water temperatures — bass will become active. They'll chase
baitfish in water temperatures as low as the high 40s, sometimes colder
Most of that chasing occurs in
water less than 10 feet deep, more often than not less than five or
six. These are active, feeding fish. They can be caught with the right
lures and the right techniques. My choice is a lipless crankbait.
know that challenges conventional wisdom. You'll hear and read
countless stories about how you should drag a jig real slow at this
time of year. Listen to or read enough of that stuff and you'll start
to believe that's the only way to catch a December bass. It's not, or
at least that hasn't been my experience. I do much better with a Daiwa
TD Vibration or a Daiwa Game Vibe than I do with a jig.
With all that in mind, here's a sample of my holiday fishing plans:
pay attention to the weather. When it's been stable for two or three
days, I'll break out my tackle and head toward my favorite lake.
there I'll look for a shallow creek arm that's no deeper than 10 feet —
6 feet is even better. If I can find one that has a channel or cut
running through it, I'll stop there first. But I won't pass over a good
looking spot just because it lacks a channel.
my bait out, let it fall to the bottom and work it back toward the boat
with a yo-yo type of retrieve. I'll fish it relatively slowly. What I
won't do, however, is work it ultra-slow. My bass are chasing baitfish.
If they want my bait, they'll catch it, cold water or not.
I'm really lucky, I'll find some rocks in the area. When that happens,
I'll toss my Vibration or Game Vibe into them and bring it back with an
up and down retrieve, making sure I hit every rock I possibly can. My
bait will hang from time to time, but most of them will come out if I
put slack in the line. Hooks don't penetrate rock.
strikes will occasionally be the "tick" that you hear so much about.
But just as often they'll be a bone jarring snap that'll pull the rod
out of your hand if you aren't paying attention.
is the word that best describes my color selection. I prefer natural
shad hues — green shad is a favorite — and reds if the water's stained.
I know red is traditionally associated with crawfish, and the crawfish
aren't active at this time of year. Logic says it shouldn't be a good
wintertime color, but I know differently even though I don't know why.
fact, I don't know why any of this works. It may be because the creepy,
crawly things on the bottom are gone or it may be because baitfish are
the forage of choice for bass or it may be because bass prefer shallow
water. More likely it's because of something neither bass nor man
Regardless, it works. Bass are active and shallow in the winter. They aren't bears. They don't hibernate!
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