Hooked: 5 Tips for Winter Bass Fishing
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few more angling days before storing rods away for winter? Well, the good news is that it’s not only possible, but it’s a great time for catching bass! In fact, winter bass fishing might present the perfect opportunity to reel in your biggest trophy fish yet.
While catching bass in the colder winter season requires a different method, it’s still possible. So gather your tackle and lures in a waterproof hard case and head to the lake. The bass are still biting! Here are tips for winter bass fishing to extend your angling activities well into the chillier weather–plus, proper safety and clothes to keep you warm.
Safety and Preparation
For any type of winter activity, you need to take proper precautions. But when winter bass fishing on a frigid lake, hypothermia is a real threat and can be quite dangerous. Here are some safety tips and ways to prepare.
Invite Company and Have a Plan
Try to find someone to tag along on your fishing trip. Even if they’re not an angler and are just good company, it’s much safer to travel as a pair. Regardless of whether you found a fishing buddy or a friend to accompany you, let someone know your plans. Tell them what part of the lake you’ll be fishing and when you plan to return.
Wear Proper Clothes and Gear
Dress in layers to keep warm and bring an extra pair of clothes in case you get wet or–worse–fall in the water. Start with a base layer made up of a thermal shirt, pants and socks. Cover up the thermal with a more breathable shirt and fleece jacket, providing an extra layer of warmth. Last, make sure to add a final layer once you arrive at the lake. For the final layer, cover up in a rainproof outer layer or an angler bib and jacket, as well as hand warmers or wool gloves. Keep your head and ears warm with a wool hat and take an LED headlamp when fishing during dawn or dusk hours.
Extra tip: To attach lures and operate handheld devices, make sure the gloves have exposed fingers!
Determine a Good Fishing Spot
Determine a good fishing spot to catch bass. Unlike other months, though, winter bass fishing requires a location with deep waters, where the fish can escape the cold and, of course, where there are baitfish. Ideally, you should locate a lake area that has both.
Using the GPS fish finder’s topographical map (or electronic map of some type), search for prime fishing spots such as humps, underwater islands and long points. If any of these spots have both deep and shallow waters nearby, even better! These fluctuations are the perfect bass habitat, allowing them to go deep but have a baitfish buffet near the shallow waters. Familiarize yourself with areas of the lake during other seasons, too. Seek out spawning flats, as bass are often close by in deeper areas.
Watch the Water Temperatures
When winter bass fishing, you want to keep an eye on water temperatures. Water temperatures trigger bass to move from shallow to deep waters, indicating their time to spawn, and altering their eating habits.
In these milder temperatures, bass will bite a variety of lures. These ideal bass fishing conditions usually occur around early spring and late fall throughout the country. However, if you live in the southern region, 50ish degrees might be the lowest you ever see all winter.
This temperature range is perfect for winter bass fishing–all fishing, really! Bass living in this temperature range and conditions have slowed their feeding, but will still chase some lures and feed on many baits.
< 40 Degrees
When conditions drop this low, bass fishing becomes tricky. Since the cold waters slow the bass down, they don’t want their next meal to be challenging. As an angler, your best chance in luring bass is to set bait right in front of them. It’s also worth noting that some bass species in northern regions are more resistant to these temps, making them an easier catch.
Best Lures and Baits for Winter Bass Fishing
As you can see, once the water temperatures drop, the fish are a bit lazier. Less jumpy and generally uninterested in lures like the fast-moving topwater baits, bass are more attracted to slow-moving lures and bottom-hugging baits. Here are the best lures and baits for winter bass fishing:
Football-head jobs, which imitate crawfish, can be moved slowly along the lake bottom to attract bass. However, always choose a football-head jig color–like brown or green hues–that resembles the crawfish native to the lake!
Hair jigs can mimic crawfish, as well as small baitfish. Choose a color similar to the native baitfish, with white or silverish tones.
Metal baits like spoons and blade baits do a great job of attracting bass during the winter months. These metal baits are a hardy material for cold waters and mimic easy prey of dying baitfish.
Soft plastic baits on a drop-shot rig are suitable for winter bass fishing, too, except you need to fish them slower than usual. You can also experiment with the leader length, adjusting to the bass’s depth, as well as using smaller-sized baits.
Take Advantage of Your Electronics
A GPS fish finder is a crucial tool for finding bass in the winter season. It can help you scan areas to locate baitfish and the nearby bass. Once you find your glory hole, drop your rig or bait vertically, lining it up directly in front of the bass to get its lazy hibernating attention. Getting the bass’s attention this way takes practice, but it’s the most assured way you’ll get a bite.
Anytime you’re on the water, be sure to keep gear and electronics safe and dry. Explore Pelican cases and find a protective carrier for all your tackle, lures, line and more! Keep your cell phone and GPS fishfinder combo protected from the elements and accidental drops, too.