Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

How important is retrieve speed in cold water? Some anglers may tell you that they fish just as fast in winter as they do in spring. However, most successful cold water anglers will tell you that slowing down the presentation is the best. Biologist and experienced anglers agree that bass will not chase a lure in water much colder than 50 degrees. An exception to this would be after bass move up shallow after a few warm days, and after a front has brought warm rain. As a rule of thumb it is best to slow down your presentation during the winter months.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and TacticsA grub can be one of the most effective bass lures for cold water. A 4 inch curly tail grub on a 1/4 ounce jig head can be all that is needed. Target steep chunk-rock banks with as much as 45 degree slope. Bass prefer these areas because they can make extreme depth changes up and down the water column to feed without using conserved energy. Cast to the shallow edge of the steep bank and then allow the grub to sink, raising the rod tip as the bait reaches the bottom to lift the grub. Anglers are successful when repeating this technique until the grub is back to the boat. Bass often bite when the grub is on the fall, so be ready to set the hook.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

If it is a trophy bass you’re hoping to catch during the winter, it is important to learn weather patterns. Timing your fishing trips when there is a break in the cold temperatures can help. Fronts usually bring warm rain as the temperature is rising and the barometric pressure is changing and this can be one of the most productive times to fish. A warm front in conjunction with a barometric change will cause bass to feed as the bait will migrate to the warmest areas usually in the back of creeks, then they will move out to the mouth as the water cools back down following the front. One degree in water temperature can make a huge difference. Fishing with cold water lures like a jig and trailer on the shaded banks just might land that trophy you’re looking for.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

During the winter months you may read a lot of articles about jigs and spinnerbaits and how to use them for cold water bass. Both lures do well as the jig and the spinnerbait are similar in design and use similar techniques when fishing them. The difference between the two is the spinner blade and the wire it’s attached to. However, The Punisher Head Spinner is a hybrid innovation between the two and features chip resistant paint job, a Sampo ball bearing swivel to enable the blade to spin easily at any retrieve speed. Backed with a sharp hook, the Head Spinner will hook and hold any bass that bites. The Head Spinner works well when fished over deep cover like brush piles, around standing cover like bridge pilings and standing timber, and along weed edges. You can use the Head Spinner with all of your favorite soft plastics or rig it with a skirt for a unique look. Use the Punisher Head Spinner with any single or double tail grub or the Super Fluke or Super Fluke Jr. as a trailer. In winter, as the water temperature falls into the middle to low 50’s, try pitching these innovative jigs to the wooden cover and work it the same way you would a jig. Allow it to fall while maintaining a tight line as it bounces off the limbs shimmering and fluttering on the way down. Watch for subtle line movement and be ready to set the hook.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

In winter as the water temperatures continues to drop and the lake turns, bass feed aggressively. Sensing that winter is close, and their metabolism will slow down bass prepare by feeding heavily on the big baits when the water temperature is in the 50s. This can be a great time to throw a soft plastic swim-bait. Concentrate in the 4- to 10-foot range near docks and remaining grass and broken mats. Under blue skies, a few days into a cold front fish deeper with a weighted swim-bait on the bottom like fishing a jig. Concentrate like a rock-pile or drop off by slowly crawling and hopping the bait across the structure. Baits like these by FishHouse Lures can quickly entice a cold water bite in winter.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

A soft plastic worm worked very slowly can be one of the most effective winter bass fishing techniques. By simply allowing the worm to lie motionless on targeted structure or “dead sticking” the worm and then “shaking” the rod tip occasionally can prevail. This technique will often trigger a strike. Using a bait injected with a quality bass attracting such as Attack Pak has with the Juiced Up X10 formula can be rewarding during the cold winter months.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

Bass jigs with crawfish trailer worked slowly across bottom structure and cover like rocks and wood can be a good tactic in winter. Cast the jig and allow it to settle a moment before starting your retrieve. Bass often grab the bait from the bottom. However, many strikes occur as the jig is on the fall. Fish the jig slowly, avoiding the temptation to retrieve the jigs quickly. Twitch and hop the bait along slowly, enticing the bass to take the bait.

These are more angler approved and tested methods for a cold water bass bite. Although winter fishing is somewhat limited there are many techniques suited for bass fishing in the cold water

Top 5 Trout Baits

Top 5 Best Trout Baits

I figured it was only fitting that I list off my favorite trout baits. After all, sometimes there is nothing better than just relaxing on the bank, and letting the bait do all the work for you. Also, bait fishing is perfect when taking kids along.

Pautzke Salmon Eggs

Balls O' Fire Premium Salmon Egg Bait, 1-Ounce

Balls O’ Fire Premium Salmon Egg Bait, 1-Ounce

 

5. Pautzke Salmon Eggs

This one has been around forever. The effectiveness of a salmon egg is dependent on two things, the quality of the egg, and the egg cure. Pautzke got both of these right with their eggs. They have been around for over 70 years, so history speaks for itself here, with millions of jars sold since that time.
The good:
Shiny texture and perfect size make it a visually attractive bait for fish
Inexpensive
Keep fairly well, they last me a couple seasons without going bad.
Not particularly messy- but they turn your fingers red.
Pleasant smell
The not so good
Sinking (not necessarily bad, just depends on the bait rig)
Weaker scent trail than some other baits
How to fish them
Since they are a sinking bait, Pautzke eggs can either be fished under a bobber or float, suspended off the bottom in tandem with a floating bait, drifted along the bottom in current, or added to trolled lures to entice more strikes.
At Meramec Springs I like to drift them below the rapids. Sometimes they like one egg on an egg hook and sometimes three of them on a treble.

4. Scented Marshmallows

 Atlas-Mikes are a favorite brand of many fisherman.
The good
Inexpensive
Very Floaty (unless they start to go stale)
Variety of scents and colors, with the option of glitter
Relatively unmessy
The not so good
Don’t keep as well as some other baits (be sure to keep the jar closed, and keep water out)
How to fish
Since this is a floating bait, rig as usual using an egg sinker or split shot, and suspend off the bottom. Additional sinking baits, a salmon egg for example, can be added to the rig to create an attention grabbing trout buffet.

3. Nightcrawlers

The nightcrawler is the oldest bait on my list, and arguably one of the oldest baits of all times. They catch fish in saltwater, fresh water, rivers, lakes, anywhere really. I’ve caught bass, flounder, dog fish, perch, crappy, bluegill, and of course trout, as well as many other species of fish, all on nightcrawlers.
The good
Catch a variety of fish in addition to trout, you never know what you might pull up
Available most places
You can dig, or even farm your own
Relatively inexpensive
Best “action” of any of the baits listed here
The not so good
Some may object to the use of live bait
Difficult to thread on the hook
Sinking
Slimy and messy
Do not keep well (keep cool, damp and dark for best life, but still only a few weeks at tops)
Minimal scent trail
How to fish
Just like salmon eggs. Suspend from a bobber or float, float off the bottom with a marshmallow or other floating bait, drift in the current, or add to a trolled or cast lure. For most trout, a whole nightcrawler is overkill, half or third of a worm will do just fine.

 

2. Berkley Power Eggs

Berkley Power Eggs are a fairly recent addition to the trout fisherman’s arsenal. They are the less messy and longer lasting cousin of dough style baits. The traditional egg style are likely the most popular, however the same formula is available in numerous other shapes, with one of my personal favorites being the Honey Worm.
The good
Low mess
A wide variety of colors, styles, scents, and glitter patterns
Stay on the hook very well
Very long shelf life
Good scent dispersion
The not so good
Pricey
About the furthest thing from a natural bait as you can get
How to fish
The egg style of bait is a floating formula, so fish similarly to the marshmallow baits. Either use one of multiple eggs per hook. When using some of their other molded baits, the Honey Worms for example, be aware that they naturally sink, so keep this in mind when tying your rigs.

1. Berkley Powerbait Dough Bait

I know I’ll probably get a little flack from a couple fisherman for picking an artificial bait for the number one spot, but my rationale is simple: Berkley Powerbait has put the most fish in my boat.
The good
Mold-able, easy to cover whole hook while still keeping it bite size
Wide variety of colors, scents, and added glitters
Floats
Relatively long shelf life (just keep the lids tight)
Absorb and hold additional scents well
The not so good
Messy
Somewhat off-putting smell
Expensive
Doesn’t stay on the hook as well as others (mostly only a problem with old bait)
How to fish
Form a ball of the dough just large enough to cover the hook completely. Fish as you would the other floating bait like Power Eggs or Marshmallows.

Baiting Trout

Offering tasty baits, whether manmade or natural, is the way to lure hungry trout released from the hatchery.

Fly-fishing and trout go together like hotdogs and baseball, yet during the early season, conditions may not be favorable for any form of artificial offering. Granted, it’s a lot of fun watching a wily trout rise beneath a dry fly, and the anticipation of awaiting the strike is almost beyond description. Conversely, it is equally frustrating to watch a trophy trout cruise within range of a perfectly presented nymph then completely ignore your offering.
There’s one thing, however, that’s rarely ignored: bait. Most trout, especially those fresh from the hatchery, rarely forego the opportunity to dine on an easy meal.
SALMON EGGS
Salmon eggs are a highly productive trout bait, especially on opening day. They’re the right size and shape, and in many instances, they are saturated with flavored oils for added enticement. Cheese-flavored eggs seem to be the most popular.
Salmon eggs come in a variety of colors. While red and yellow seem to top the list with fishermen, many anglers have switched to the new fluorescent colors, claiming that they’re more productive during the season’s first few days. And, for some unexplained reason, trout tend to be more attracted to various shades of red over many of the brighter colors.
The popularity of salmon eggs has always been quite high among early-season trout anglers, so high that hook manufacturers went to the trouble to design hooks specifically for use with salmon eggs. They are available in various sizes ranging from No. 8 to No. 14. These hooks have extremely short shanks and come in both turned-up and turned-down eye styles. When properly rigged, the hook can easily be concealed entirely within a single salmon egg. Consequently, the only thing the rainbow, brookie or brown actually sees, even in clear water, is the egg itself.





CHEESE
What do you do when your local tackle shop is sold out of salmon eggs? Make a quick stop at the corner convenience store. Most are open 24 hours a day, and they all sell cheese.
Most soft cheese products make great trout baits, particularly when you’re targeting trout that are fresh from the hatchery. Cheese oils rapidly disperse with the currents, often luring hungry trout from incredible distances. Additionally, soft cheese can readily be formed around a salmon egg hook and molded into pellet-shaped morsels. When all other forms of bait fail, a small glob of cheese may save the day.
MARSHMALLOWS
The first person to use marshmallows for bait was either very creative or totally frustrated. Whatever the case may have been, it worked. Yes, those tiny cocktail marshmallows have saved the day for many trout anglers, especially during the season’s first few days. While marshmallows don’t resemble any form of trout food, hatchery or natural, they do emit sufficient odor to attract various species of fish. In fact, some anglers complain that they are too effective.
Marshmallows can be cut or torn into smaller pieces, then easily formed to cover a salmon egg hook. However, because they have a relatively high air content, marshmallows have the tendency to float. Therefore, a small piece of split shot, preferably BB size must be added to the line about 12 to 18 inches above the hook. This will place the bait close to the bottom. Be sure not to add more weight than necessary to hold bottom, while still allowing the bait to drift naturally. Add too much weight and you’ll spend most of your time trying to dislodge the split shot from snags.
CORN
While fresh corn, yellow or white, doesn’t seem to work well at all, canned, whole-kernel, yellow corn makes a great trout bait. Some believe this is because fine-ground grains are one of the main components in fish pellets, one of which may be corn. The list of ingredients on the side of the fish pellet can does not specify which types of grains are used, but corn seems to top the list of most commercially prepared fish and animal foods. If this is indeed the case, there’s a good argument for the use of corn for trout bait, particularly during the early days of the season.
Again, the bait should completely cover the hook. Depending on the hook’s size, this may require two or possibly three kernels. Fortunately, corn has a slight negative buoyancy, therefore, only one or two split shot may be required to maintain the proper depth. If the stream or river currents are somewhat fast, more weight may be required to maintain the correct depth.
NATURAL BAITS
Worms
While some designated trout streams mandate the use of artificial lures or flies only, many stocked streams permit the use of various forms of natural bait. Obviously, before fishing any body of water, it is a good idea to carefully scrutinize the regulations pertaining to that location. If it is permissible to use live bait, then the selection is almost endless. After feeding on fish pellets for nearly a year, newly stocked trout have two options: switch to natural foods or starve to death. A week or two after stocking, most trout will eat just about anything that comes along, especially if it looks perfectly natural.
Nothing is more appealing to a hungry trout than a fat, pink, juicy garden worm floating with the currents. Even when the weather has been too cold for the worms to occur naturally, trout will instinctively pounce on a properly presented worm. The key to success is proper presentation. As with all forms of bait, the hook should be well hidden. Additionally, if a piece of split-shot is required in order to reach bottom, use just enough weight to maintain the correct depth, while still allowing the bait to drift naturally with the currents.
The worm should be cast upstream at a 45-degree angle, preferably well above the head of the pool. Just as soon as the bait hits the water, close the reel’s bail and begin a slow, deliberate retrieve. Keep sufficient tension on the line to detect the slightest strike and also to gently lift the bait over the snags.
Minnows
A few weeks into the season, trout will actively feed on minnows. While many states do not permit the use of native minnows, tiny fathead minnows are a good substitute, particularly when they measure no longer than 2 inches. The minnows can be either lip-hooked or impaled just beneath the dorsal fin, thereby keeping them alive and active as they drift through deep pools. Some anglers find that attaching a small, clear plastic float aids them in casting the minnow to the most productive locations, such as close to submerged boulders or close to an undercut segment of shoreline.
Crayfish
Small crayfish, those measuring just 1 to 2 inches in length, are great trout baits, especially as the season progresses and water temperatures begin to rise. They can be hooked through the tail and scooted across the bottom, or hooked carefully through the nose and walked over the bottom. Both techniques seem to be equally effective. Keep in mind, however, that crayfish reside and often hide beneath flat rocks; therefore, unless you keep constant tension on the line, they will quickly scurry under any suitable rock.
Hellgrammites
Hellgrammites, the larvae of dobson flies, are likely among the ugliest creatures that nature could have ever dreamed of. They have a prehensile tail, a soft black body with lots of legs and head that resembles that of a gigantic ant. Unlike a butterfly that becomes a beautiful, winged creature after metamorphosis, the dobson fly just grows wings and remains ugly. You can find them residing on the back side of partly submerged, flat rocks in most free-flowing streams. They’re not pretty, but they’re irresistible to any trout.
Hellgrammites have a hard-shell collar that is located directly behind the nasty-looking head and powerful pincers. The collar is a good place not only to hold them, but additionally, it’s a great place to insert your hook. In this particular instance, the hook will be exposed, therefore, a small No. 10, short-shanked, bronze hook will be your best bet. The hook’s color closely resembles that of the hellgrammite. The only problem trout anglers complain about when using hellgrammites is that everything in the stream seems to enjoy eating them.
As the season progresses, other forms of natural baits will become highly productive. Don’t overlook such crickets, grasshoppers, moths and various forms of insect larvae. As each of these becomes available naturally, they also become an integral part of a trout’s diet.