Winter Fishing For Beginners
Bass fishing in the winter can be a little mysterious after fishing the other three seasons. We know bass fishing is the best in the spring when the spawn moves most all the bass to the bank where they are defensive and easiest to catch. Summer fishing sees lots of topwater action with fish being aggressive. Many times in the fall, bass might be schooling or setup shallow so they can be caught. The mystery comes in the winter because many anglers just don’t know where to start.
Up north, most of the lakes freeze in the winter so the winter fishing is really late fall. The bass really get to biting before the ice gets on the water. I don’t have a ton of experience with this situation because I live in Virginia. I do know that largemouth and smallmouth group up near or where they are going winter. This can be great fishing once you find it. Jigs, crankbaits, and blade baits near the bottom are great options for this scenario.
In the mild climates like Florida and southern California, the winter weather is very short, but it really does affect the fishing. In Florida, the bass almost hibernate when the short winter is there. My advice for Florida fishing is to find the thickest cover that is close to their spawning areas. If there is any matted vegetation, you should definitely punch (Punch Kit) that with a heavy weight and a creature bait. The next option would be to throw a chatterbait around the edges of that thick cover. Last option would be casting a straight worm like a Missile Baits Quiver or 48 and dead sticking it.
Winter bass fishing in the middle of the country means the biggest variance and a real winter to fish. The best place to start is with the water temperature for figuring out where to start. Once it gets cold enough for people to think it is winter, it may not mean that the bass are frozen on the bottom. Bass will still hit topwater until the water temperature gets down to the upper 40s. The Whopper Plopper and buzzbait are the best baits during this time. It seems like the worse weather is the best for this deal. Other techniques are more consistent. A crankbait like the SPRO Rock Crawler is great in the winter when you have some rock banks in the lake you are fishing. Those are some great lures but they are not what I consider the best winter lure.
If I could only have one lure to bass fish in the winter in the middle of the country, it would be a drop shot. The drop shot is very versatile. It will sit in a bass’ face, which can be the deal during the chilly winter. Many times smaller baits get way more bites than bigger or even normal sized baits. A finesse drop shot is the set up that I am talking about (Finesse Drop Shot). The Missile Baits Bomb Shot is the small drop shot bait of choice for me. Any bait fish color like Bombshell seems to excel but don’t sleep on craw colors like Super Craw. Light line and a Cashion Drop Shot model spinning rod is the way to fish it. I like a longer hook to weight leader, about 18 to 24”, in the wintertime.
Winter bass in the middle part of the country like certain parts of the lake. They want to be near deep water most of the time. I really like bluffs, deep docks, bridges, channel swing banks, and points with deep water close by. The bass are not always on the vertical portion but should be pretty close by. Slow retrieves are often the best way to coax those drop shot bass into biting in the winter but an occasional rip or hard jerk can still trigger a bite too.
Going bass fishing in the winter can be good if you get on the right deal. Hopefully this blog gets you pointed in the right direction this winter. Don’t forget to dress warm and always take an extra set of clothes. Being prepared and the right presentations can result in a day of fishing you won’t soon forget.