As a bass angler, I am ever striving to improve my catch, looking for more bites and bigger fish. In spring, I am hunting the monsters, while in summer, I seek bite frequency but come winter, I find myself just praying for a single bite.
Indeed, winter bass fishing isn’t for the faint-hearted angler as the productive holes have dried up, and the fish seem to have moved on altogether.
This article aims to offer some quick tips for locating and catching bass fish during the winter. Continue reading, and you’ll see why patterns and migratory locations matter to the cold weather bass angler and what you’re missing out on if you’re sitting at your old haunts waiting for the fish to return.
By the end of this entertaining read, you’ll see why bass fishing shouldn’t be relegated to warm weather only. You’ll understand that while the mercury may be dipping, the bass is still as vibrant as ever in their winterized feeding grounds.
Table of Contents
Bass Fishing in Winter: What You Need to Know
What Is The Best Bait For Bass In The Winter?
Fish are cold-blooded, and as such, the bass available in winter are lazy, too lucid to take much notice of your succulent looking bait. Whether you prefer artificial lures to live bait, smaller sizes will appeal more to cold water bass than larger prey pieces.
Downsized bait is more appetizing to bass, looking to preserve as much energy as possible during the hunt. Rather than jigging out a chunk of crab or prawn, hook up some small minnows or creek shiners alongside your variety of worms if you don’t mind being called a live bait cheat.
Keep your live bait fresh, alive, and preferably healthy by stowing them in the right rig for better success.
Your artificials, on the other hand, shouldn’t consist of topwater or fast-moving lures, but instead arm yourself with slow-moving, bottom-hugging baits. Jigs are my top winter bass fishing bait, and I find that hair or football head ones are more suited to cold water.
Lethargic winter bass will bite, but only bait that’s moving slowly, such as my football heads with colors that imitate the crawfish in the body of water I am fishing in. Apart from jigs, try metal baits such as blades and spoons, which tend to outperform by imitating dying baitfish, which are key to attracting winter bass.
Another top winter choice is soft plastics on a drop shot fished slowly and methodically. A solid strategy would be to adjust your leader length with smaller baits, depending on how far on the bottom the bass are setting.
What Water Temperature Stops Bass Biting?
When you are considering bass fishing in the winter, you must factor in the water temperature, which is the attribute that drives fish from the shallows to deep waters. Winter steals the warmth from the water, signaling to fish that a season has ended, a time for going deeper where it’s warmer.
Although varying from climatic region to another, bass will be triggered to change feeding habits and to relocate by;
Temperatures Under 40°F
Bass in the water below 40 degrees is barely active, requiring only easy meals, so you must get your bait right to invite strikes. Although challenging, it’s possible to hook lethargic bass with bottom lures or small live bait, but the strategy remains moving slowly, preferably with jigs.
Temperatures Above 40° but Below 50°F
In these water conditions, bass have a slowed metabolism, but it’s also not too cold to evoke a feeding frenzy. These are prime bass fishing in winter temperatures, and the fish will chase lures to a certain degree, biting in moderate numbers.
Temperatures Above 50° but Below 60°F
With a wide range of bait, you can get strikes from bass in these water temperatures, which, although typically not winter conditions, can be the coldest for the year in some southern waters. Waters at these temperatures present excellent bass fishing conditions anywhere, and fish will bite as long as they’re not distracted by the spawn.
I have fished bass with varied successes in water as low as 34° F, meaning that conventional bass wisdom that says bass will stop biting from cold temperatures is a bunch of nonsense. Although I have to admit it’s dependent on where you fish, anything below 30 degrees will make the bass stop biting.
What Time Of Day Are Bass Most Active During Cold Weather?
During winter, you must take into account the sun’s influence on bass activity, and my best fishing comes at midday when it’s the warmest. I have fished where bass will bite from zero to absolutely awesome in a matter of minutes as soon as the sun peeps out behind wintry clouds.
This is true whether your pursuit for winter bass is on a small or large body of water, and more so for freshwater fish.
When fishing in winter conditions, follow the sun and select the waters that are clear as opposed to muddy or murky water. This is because clear water absorbs sunlight warmth quicker and is bound to trigger bass action before short winter afternoons cool off again.
I can’t say much about big lake bass, but small water body fish are better accustomed to frontal passages and frequent temperature changes during winter. Coupled with not having much elsewhere to go, the pond or small lake bass will continue to bite, only moving deeper as the topwater column temperature cools.
How Do You Catch Big Bass In The Winter?
Bass are everywhere every other season except winter, but whether you’re fishing large or small bodies of water, there are locations they frequent. I target the rocky areas in winter, especially shallow ones since as the day warms, rocks conduct heat into the water faster.
Deep rocks are attractants for shad, crawfish, and minnows, a good place as any to cast jigs that mimic these favorite bass prey.
Start your search for winter bass in earthen dams or levees, using as I do; a light jig with an additional fat pork trailer. You’ll find them cruising the riprap between late morning and early afternoon on bright sunny days, and you can wade or hop on the rocks.
Avoid heavy jigs as they tend to catch between the rock cracks, hanging you up constantly. If the water is weedy, you might also find them but not as many as you would in the rocks during winter.
In murky waters with wood cover, bass hangs tight around logs and stumps when the mercury dips, as the visibility in these places is low. I have fished water that’s between 45 to 55 degrees, pitching jigs so that they bump the wood cover for explosive bass strikes.
The key to winter bass fishing is to understand that even though the water is featureless; it’s more about depth than cover. They often pull offshore to lie in the deepest, lowest spot, which could mean the middle of the lake.
Best Three Lures Or Baits To Catch Bass During Cold Weather
Any successful bass angler will tell you that the retrieve in cold water should be slower than how you cast in spring or summer. Slowing your presentation is the best strategy for chasing winter bass lures, especially if the water is cooler than 50°F.
Some exceptions do occur, particularly after a warm rain or a few sunny days when they move up from the deep to shallow waters.
The best baits and lures to catch bass during cold weather include;
1.Overall Best Cold-Water Bait for Bass: Zoom Bait Fat Albert Grub Bait
One of the most versatile lures for fishing bass in the winter is a grub, such as this 5-inch zoom bait with ribbon tail to entice bites. You can target chunk rock banks or steep, sloppy inclines where they make extreme depth changes with effortless up and down movement across the water column.
Let the salt impregnated Fat Albert Grub sink after casting the shallow bank, raising the bait as it reaches the bottom to the middle of the water column. Set the hook on the ready as the bass will bite when the grub is falling, and you can repeat this technique in various locations to find wormholes.
2.Best Small-Water Winter Bass Fishing Lure: BOOYAH Pond Magic Small-Water Spinner-Bait Bass Fishing Lure
This spinnerbait will hook and hold any bass that bites, and you can substitute it with a similarly designed jig. The BOOYAH Pond Magic Small-Water Spinner-Bait has a hybrid innovation with both jig and spinner’s best features, particularly the ball bearing that enabled its blade to spin freely on the retrieve.
Backed by its sharp hook, this spinnerbait can be used with a grub, soft plastic, or pork trailer to hold onto any winter bass that bites. This lure works best to bait bass over deep or standing cover such as timber, weed edges, or bridge pilings.
3.Best Realistic Soft Plastic Bait for Winter Bass Fishing: Yamamoto Senko Bait
As the temperatures drop and lake water turns cooler, the bass is feeding aggressively as the cold will soon cause their metabolism to slow down. While water is still in the lower 50s or upper 40s, soft plastic swimbaits like the 3-inch Yamamoto Senko will draw bass strikes on remaining grass, broken mats, or near docks.
Aim at drop shotting with this realistic swimbait, targeting drop-offs or rock piles with hops and crawl motions across structures. Swimbait and worms can also be left to hang motionless on the target, occasionally shifting or quivering for irresistible ease of prey to lethargic winter bass.
In What Water Temperatures Are Bass Most Active?
Bass will start moving up from deep water as soon as the temperature hits above the 45-degree mark in many regions. The best conditions for spawning include water temperatures of between 55° and 60°, and this is natural when they are most active.
When fishing for bass in the winter, keep an eye on the weather as a warm rainfall will considerably heat the water than sunshine.
However, your winter bass finding won’t rely solely on water temperature, but more so on location changes. You can define a bass movement pattern depending on where the water is cooler or warmer, such as at the mouth of creeks, inside a harbor, or on a clear rather than murky lake.
FAQ’s On Bass fishing in the Winter
What month is best out of the year for bass fishing?
I have to say April, during the full moon when the water is around 40 degrees, as I have seen bass fish moving like they do during their spawn but not on beds. This is a kind of false spawn triggered by the moon and its spring in most regions, but the water is still too cool for conclusive mating.
It’s not only bass that is affected by the lunar cycle, but shad, crawfish, frog, and mayflies, which are their favorite prey, are also activated during this phase, creating opportunities for a feeding glut. You can expect that where prey is innumerable, the bass isn’t far behind in activity levels despite the coolness of the water.
Where does bass go during wintertime?
During wintertime, bass seeks out the warmer parts of whatever water bodies they reside in, although that doesn’t mean all their activities are confined there. In a lake, bass move to the deeper parts of the depression, and you can find schools congregated in hollow pockets at the bottom.
River bass migrates to sheltered bays or wooded banks to escape the colder running water. Some of the groupings in these locations can be actively feeding or lazing around depending on the overall water temperatures.
Seasoned bass anglers like me find it hard to stay indoors because it’s winter, and we have found ways to locate hundreds of potential catches, just out of the regular fisherman’s sights. Take a leap of faith this winter and step out into the frigid water for a spot of cold season bass fishing.
You can start from the shore at a small lake, near shallow rocks, or where the undergrowth isn’t so thick, and you can alternate with deep water access when these aren’t productive. Select a warm day when the sun hits the water for at least a couple of hours continually, bringing the water temperatures up so that bass leave their hidey-hole at the bottom.
Bass fishing is an exciting sport, but it can be very intimidating for beginners. For example, are you having difficulty figuring out what baits to use? Do you need to buy a casting rod or a spinning reel? How much should you spend your gear to get started?
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