Cold Water Winter Bass Fishing Tips
Last time I talked about fishing reports. Since it's now Winter, today I'm going to give some tips for fishing cold water. Cold Winter weather can present quite a challenge when it comes to catching bass. However fishing can be very good at this time of year. And with a little knowledge and persistence Winter offers an opportunity to catch what very well may be the biggest bass of your life. Today I'm going to share some important tips to remember when fishing cold water.
Preparation and safety tips
Boring yes, but extremely important. Being out on the water in cold weather adds to the risk of boating and fishing accidents. When water temps fall below the mid 50's an accidental fall into the water can become very deadly; even if you're wearing a life jacket. Hypothermia can set-in in a matter of a few minutes. Always take an extra change of warm clothing with you when fishing in Winter. If you or your partner fall into the water get out, as quickly as possible, and get out of your wet clothing.
You should never fish alone at anytime of year. But it's even more true in Winter. Having help if something goes wrong can be the difference in life or death.
When air temps fall below freezing, concrete or asphalt boat ramps can quickly become a sheet of ice. it's always a good idea to have a couple bags of rock salt with you to melt the ice when fishing in cold weather.
Tips for finding fish
In general bass move to deep water at this time of year. This is when your fish finder becomes an almost essential tool for locating bass. However, even if water temps are cold, it's important to remember that shallow water warms much faster than deep water. If the weather is unstable over a period of a few days, finding fish can become very tricky. As an example of what I mean by this, If the weather has been consistently cold and suddenly warms for a couple days, the shallows can quickly become warmer than the deep water. If this happens, bass will move to where the warmer water is.
Look for large schools of bait fish. This is the time when bait fish pack up into huge schools. Look for these schools to be on deep water structure such as points, humps rocks, creek channels or man made structures in deep water. Find the big schools of bait and the fish will be near them.
Look for small shallow pockets that get sun all or most of the day. Usually the best place to look for these are on the Northeast or Northwest side of the lake. If you find a shallow pocket or flat area where the water temp is a couple degrees warmer than the rest of the lake or area, there's a good chance it will be loaded with fish.
When choosing a lure for cold water bass its important to keep in mind that bass are cold blooded. When the water is cold the fish are cold as well. Bass don't like to expend a lot of energy to get a meal as they will in warmer water. So in general you'll need to slow down and fish slow moving baits. Some of my personal favorites are.
Jigs: Over the years I've probably caught more and bigger fish in cold water on jigs than any other lure. Bass jigs are basically a craw fish imitation. Crawfish are a very highly nutritional food for bass and if they have the opportunity to eat one in Winter without spending much energy, they usually will.
Spoons: As I've already mentioned, bass will follow the huge schools of baitfish in Winter. When you find bass holding under schools of bait in deep water the jigging spoon can be a real killer. This pattern requires a vertical presentation. Position the boat directly over the school, drop the spoon to the bottom or to the level where the fish are holding, pop it up with the rod tip and let it flutter back down. In the right situation you can often catch a limit of nice fish very quickly with this lure.
The Zoom Trick Worm: The trick worm is a very simple soft plastic jerk bait This type of worm is made by a number of different companies and most all of them will catch fish; Zoom just happens to be my personal favorite. The Trick worm is most effective in shallow water situations such as I mentioned above. What makes this lure so effective in cold water is the fact that like the jigging spoon, it can be fished with a very erratic action while only actually moving the lure a very short distance. This lure is generally thought of as a warm water bait; however I learned many years ago, it can also be extremely effective in cold water as well.
There's lots of reasons to fish in winter and a lot to learn about catching bass in cold water. If I could give any angler only 1 tip for catching bass in cold water, that tip would be to slow down. Use lures that can be fished slow, and slow down your presentation of those lures. Fish as slow as you can, and then slow down even more.
Keep these bass fishing tips in mind this winter and you just may enjoy some great bass fishing, as well as catch the biggest bass of your life.