Winter Bass Fishing Tips
When you think of bass fishing you may think of warm weather but just because the temperatures start to drop doesn’t mean you can’t fish for bass. But you might just have to change up your tactics a little.
Where do bass go in the winter? And how do you catch them?
We thought we’d put together a quick guide on winter bass fishing to show you how you can make the most of the colder weather and still enjoy a successful day out on the water.
Where Do You Find Bass When It’s Cold?
Some states in the South can be ideal for winter bass fishing, as the water temperatures often don’t drop to the levels that you might see in northern states.
Lake Okeechobee in Florida, for example, can often have great year round bass fishing because the average winter water temperatures are usually in the low 70s. This can mean a different style of winter bass fishing, as the spawn can often happen in early winter, compared to spring in other parts of the country.
Video: Bass Fishing At Lake Okeechobee
During the winter, bass will tend to move to deeper water. How deep they will be will often depend on the body of water, for example how deep the lake is.
Because they are cold blooded, they tend to move to the warmer areas of lakes and rivers, away from the cold air or cold currents and they will tend to slow down as their metabolism slows in order to conserve energy.
However, it may not be enough to just consider the depth, as bass will often be found close to shallower zones so they can feed in these areas easily without expending too much energy.
Small lakes can often be great places to catch bass in the winter, as these waters are usually not as deep as large lakes and the bass can be more limited to where they can go.
It may also be easier to find warmer sections of water in smaller lakes, as they may be more affected by temperature and can be influenced by the sun and springs that feed into them.
Sunny days can often trigger a temperature increase in the water, which can encourage baitfish to move and bass to feed, so this can be a good time to catch them.
However, if you’re in the more northern regions of the country, you might find that your small lakes or ponds freeze over more quickly, so this might be area and weather specific.
On the other hand, you may still be able to fish large lakes in winter, if you can locate the deeper areas, and warmer sections, where the bass might be suspended. A fish finder or topographical map of the lake might be useful, as well as an angler's kayak or canoe to let you access some of the deeper sections of water.
Checking the temperature of the water can help you to figure out where in the water the bass might be and how likely they are to be feeding.
If the water is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, there might be less of a chance of you catching one, since you will have to slow down your presentation but get your lure as close to the bass as you can.
Above 40 degrees, you may have a better chance of catching bass, since, although they may have slowed down, they can be more likely to feed. If the water is above 50 degrees, this can be an even better time to fish, as the bass will likely be actively feeding, as these temperatures can often be seen when they’re feeding both before the spawn and before winter.
During the winter, bass will often make the most of any small increases in water temperature to move into the nearby shallower areas to feed.
Safety And Preparation - What Should I Wear?
Layers can be important when it comes to dressing for winter fishing. You should ideally have a thermal base layer, both pants and a long sleeved shirt, followed by a breathable mid-layer, such as a fleece sweater.
Your outerwear layer should ideally be water resistant and windproof to help keep you warm and dry. Waterproof pants or cold weather fishing waders can also be a good idea. A hat and fingerless gloves can be useful if the weather is particularly cold.
If you’re planning on taking a boat or kayak out on the water, you might want to also consider a dry suit as an additional layer, as this can help to keep you warm if you fall in the water (Well, you never know! It's not unheard of!).
Take A Fishing Buddy
Winter fishing conditions can be dangerous, as there can be a higher risk of hypothermia and even drowning if you fall in the water, compared to warm summer conditions.
Taking a buddy with you can be a good idea in case you get into difficulty. It can also be beneficial to tell someone where you plan to fish and the time that you intend to return.
What About Catching Bass In Late Winter?
You might find that there’s a crossover in late winter to early spring, which means you may discover that the bass are beginning to move into their pre-spawn areas, between their winter zones and their spawning areas. But again, this will likely depend on the temperature rather than the season.
Migration channels and deeper areas around vertical structure might be where you can find bass during late winter. It can also be useful to check the temperature of the water to find the warmest portions of the lake.
Video: Bass Fishing In Late Winter / Early Spring
However, if the water temperatures are still too cold for the bass to move out of their winter areas, you’ll probably find that you’ll still need slower presentations when it comes to your bait.
Lures that look like injured or dying baitfish can be a good choice, as these can often trigger a reaction bite from a bass.
What Are The 5 Best Baits And Lures For Cold Weather Bass Fishing?
Jerkbaits can be great for throwing all year but can be ideal for winter bass fishing because they can mimic injured baitfish and can encourage a reaction strike.
They can also cover a lot of water and can be useful in clear water conditions.
Rapala Deep Husky Jerk
This Rapala Deep Husky Jerk lure can be a good option for winter fishing, as it is designed for long casting and features a deep diving lip. It can be ideal for suspending between 7 and 16 feet, so could be a good choice for lake fishing.
It also rattles and is reflective so that it can attract attention and trigger a strike.
A drop shot rig can be a good set-up for winter fishing, as it can let you get your lure closer to the bottom and can work in both shallow and deep water, depending on the weight you choose.
For winter fishing, it might help to keep your leader a little shorter, so that there’s less distance between the weight and the lure, as this can mean your lure can get closer to the bass without them having to use up much energy to take it.
Video: Dropshotting For Bass To End The Winter
Berkley Gulp! Minnow
The 4 inch Berkley Gulp! Minnow can be a good choice for drop shotting, as it’s designed to look and even taste realistic.
Grub lures can work well in both warm and cold water. For winter bass, grubs can ideal for fishing in areas of cover, such as weeds, where bass might be hiding.
Texas style rigs can be good for catching bass in these conditions. You might even want to try larger grubs, such as a 5 inch grub, to possibly attract larger bass.
Zoom Bait Fat Albert Grub
The Zoom Bait Fat Albert Grub can be a good choice as it comes in a range of colors and is made with salt in the construction that’s designed to make fish hold it longer, giving you more time to set the hook. It also has a large tail that’s designed to attract attention under the water.
Jigging spoons can be great for catching winter bass, as they have a slower movement compared to the flutter spoons, which can be ideal for inactive bass.
They can be best fished vertically, so it can be a good idea to know where the fish are before you drop one.
Cotton Cordell C.C. Spoon Lure
The Cotton Cordell C.C. Spoon Lure can be a good choice, as it features a treble hook and comes in a range of sizes. It also benefits from a hammered appearance which can help to create a more realistic flash and can mimic an injured or struggling baitfish.
Blade baits can be great lures to use when the temperatures drop, as they can be ideal for bass fishing in deeper water and on stepped banks.
These types of lures can imitate injured baitfish and can flash and create vibrations in the water to attract bass.
Cotton Cordell Gay Blade
The Cotton Cordell Gay Blade lure could be a good option for winter bass, as it features dual line tie holes, so you can rig it to fish both vertically and horizonally and use it as either a vibrating lure or a jigging spoon.
It also has a flat head so that it can move more realistically like a struggling baitfish as it travels through the water.
Winter bass fishing may not always be easy compared with spring or fall fishing, but it can result in some big bass if you know where to look for them (whether you're on a boat or at the shore).
Although bass slow down and feed less during the winter, they can still be caught using the right, slow presentation.
Wrap up warm and aim for the warmest areas of the water, and let us know what you catch. Share this guide with your buddies to see what they can catch this winter.
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