Bass Lures You Need in Winter

8 Lures You Need in Your Winter Bass Fishing Box

 My most productive non-ice fishing lures for winter time bass fishing You’re scraping ice off the windshield, as the truck sputters and grumpily tries to warm its interior. Breathing in exhaust fumes as cold chills pulse down your spine as you hook the trailer to the hitch. The nose begins what will be a full …

My most productive non-ice fishing lures for winter time bass fishing

You’re scraping ice off the windshield, as the truck sputters and grumpily tries to warm its interior. Breathing in exhaust fumes as cold chills pulse down your spine as you hook the trailer to the hitch. The nose begins what will be a full day trickle as your ears already burn from the frost trying to adhear to your lobes. The allure of big lumbering sluggish bass in icy cold water fills your brain as you scramble to the cab of the truck. It’s winter time, and surprisingly some bass anglers hate it.

To an extent, all anglers probably fall victim to “rut fishing” at some point throughout the year, and winter can be the worst time to be in a rut about how you approach your fishing. A few simple facts will hopefully give you better perspective and hopefully some tips on tackle will make your quest to catch bass a little easier this winter.

First, bass don’t need to feed every day. There metabolisms slow to a crawl and they don’t need as much coal for their furnace so to speak. So they don’t have to eat as much or as often. That makes smaller baits a good option or extremely slow moving big baits that they don’t need to run down to satisfy a week’s worth of food requirements.

Second, bass group up and spend a good portion of their winter motionless. They populate an area that has food and deep water nearby and hover there until early spring. So spend time looking for deep concentrations of bait, cover and bass and realize fish use the smallest percentage of the lake of any other time of the year.

Now for the good news. Bass do eat in the winter. They stay near the bait because they need to eat. Also, they stay with their friends, so if one bass isn’t eating today, chances are a buddy right next to him is. They are very keyed into shad this time of year and the shad can be struggling to stay alive if the water temperatures are dipping into the low 40s. So while they are looking for those injured dying shad, they won’t pass up a slow crawling craw right in their face either. They are still opportunists and will seek to eat whatever they can in close proximity.

Having addressed their “tendencies,” here are my 8 choices for targeting and catching sluggish cold water bass and some tips on how to make them more effective.

Jerkbait for winter bass

Deep suspending jerkbaits

 

I spent a lot of time watching shad die in the winter when I fished on clear water fisheries like Table Rock and Beaver Lakes in the Ozark Mountains. These shad would kick and pause, flutter and float and sometimes sink slowly out of sight. I’ve incorporated mimicking this kick-and-float behavior into chasing winter bass with deep diving suspending jerkbaits. A Lucky Craft Staysee, a SPRO McRip, Megbass Ito Vision 110+1 and a Jackall DD Squirrel all do a great job of twitching and jerking in water 8-12 feet deep. The sound, flash and water displacement in clear water can all lead big bass out of deep haunts to grab a quick easy meal.

Tip: I sometimes weight my jerkbaits so they will slowly sink. When I know I’m fishing for bass deeper than 10 feet over much deeper water, I actually like for my jerkbait to mimic those shad I saw dying for many years on other fisheries. I will add lead golfers tape or a few extra split rings to make my deep suspending jerkbaits slowly sink after a rip or pull so they look like a shad struggling to stay afloat.

Steel Shad blade bait

Blade bait

 

A blade bait is a dynamite lure for stair-stepping down steep 45 degree banks into the zones bass are holding. Where a spoon derives its action after the hop or pull as it flutters on the fall, a blade bait attracts on the actual rip and drop.

Tip: I will fish a blade bait like a lipless rattling bait and just slowly wind it along, hoping it bumps a rock or two. I think the subtle vibration, couple with the clinking and clacking over rocks, draws those deep bass in for a closer look and the slow crawl is easy for them to run down.

Jigging spoon

Jigging spoon

 

A jigging spoon has been a staple over the years for deep wintering fish. It looks like nothing, but it casts like a rock, gets to the bottom and into the strike zone with blazing speed and can be worked in place easily on a vertical presentation with a simple snap and fall on slack line.

Tip: Slack is critical so learn to drop or cast the spoon and watch your line as it falls. Think it stopped too early, reel up fast and set the hook. See your line jump, set the hook. I often cast out a few yards from the boat and hop it around to cover a small circular area where I think the bass are holding and being out away from the boat helps me watch my slack a little easier as well.

 

how to fish a tail spinner

Tail spinner

 

Another deep small hunk of lead with some flash, a tail spinner has been a hot ticket in Texas lake in colder years. The ability to hop it, wind it, pump it and work it various ways both near the bottom and up in the strike zone make this simple tear drop lure a dynamite presentation.

Tip: I use a lighter one a lot of the time to get a slower fall in the winter. I think a lighter weight really lets the blade work and you can keep the bait in their strike zone for a much longer period on each cast, which is critical in the winter.

how to fish fish head spins

Under spins with shad tails

When you are fishing deep flats, a lure you can cast and wind slowly along the bottom or up off the bottom if you find the bass suspended can be the ticket. Something like a Sworming Hornet or a Buckeye SuSpin with a small swimbait or shad tail like the Optimum Opti Shad or Basstrix can easily mimic a shad in cold water that might have a slight stain to it.

Tip: Super glue is your friend. Super glue the swim tail to the head and you can fish all day with one tail and head, well at least for a lot more fish than you would otherwise. And a pumping and stop and go retrieve can also trigger bass who might slowly lumber behind but never strike.

 

how to fish rage tail grub

Grub

 

A grub is such a simple and old faithful lure, that many anglers totally forget about them. Fact is, this bait really shines when the water is ultra cold. I’ve caught bass in water below 40 degrees on a grub and 1/4 ounce jighead. When bass suspend in vertical cover, a grub can be a dynamite lure to catch those otherwise stationary bass. Wind it slowly and methodically and most bites will just feel like a little pressure as you wind it.

Tip: Small diameter line helps keep the lure down and swimming steady through the water. The lure doesn’t weigh much so heavier line causes it to rise too much. I like some of the new grubs like the Strike King Rage Tail grub or Zoom Fat Albert that put out a lot of vibration.

how to fish a casting jig

Casting jig

 

One of my favorite ways to catch smallmouths this time of year, is casting to 45 degree banks and steep points and bluffs with a casting jig. Something like a Cumberland Pro Lures Pro Caster or a Stan Sloan’s Booza Bug are ideal for this technique. I will tip the jigs with a Zoom Chunk or Zoom Super Chunk Jr.–something with flat appendages that undulate more than twist and thump.

Tip: I’m normally fishing this on fairly open rocky banks with occasional stumps or laydowns. So I will opt for very light line like 10 to 12 pound fluorocarbon. The lighter line gives the bait better depth control and I think the fish look at a jig this time of year longer than other times of the year before biting. So I want to stack the deck in my favor with very natural presentations, trimmed skirts, natural chunk  colors to give the bass a real meal looking profile.

 

Drop Shot Berkley Twitch Tail Minnow

Drop shot

I’ve definitely built up a lot of confidence with a drop shot over the last decade. And I just smile when I hear guys tell me bass won’t bite plastics in cold water. They will bite the right plastic. Especially if presented in a very realistic manner. The bass are often tight to the bottom so I will keep my leader lengths fairly short and I will let the drop shot sit for long periods. I still want to butt it up against a rock or a stump and work it painfully slow around an isolated object. But sometimes just barely flicking the tail is all the action it needs.

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

The 6 Best Bass Fishing Techniques

The 6 Best Bass Fishing Techniques

blue ribbon lures bass techniques

blue ribbon lures bass techniques

One of the reasons bass are North America’s most popular gamefish is that they’re easier to catch than most other species, primarily because they are so abundant. But, just because these fish can be found virtually everywhere doesn’t always mean you’’ll be catching a whole bunch on your fishing trip. It’’s more than just throwing your line out there and hoping there’’s a hungry bass that takes it; catching a lot of lunkers comes down to proper technique. Below are critical techniques you should master to maximize your performance as a bass angler.

Pitching/Flipping

When bass are not all that active and are hiding in thick cover, it’’s as if you have to go into stealth mode to catch those shy lunkers. The best methods for getting to thick, shallow water without spooking fish too much are pitching and flipping. They are similar looking techniques, but some occasions require one over the other, especially as it pertains to distance. The key to successful pitching/flipping is practice, a long rod (6.5’-7.5’), and the right soft bait.

Pitching

Pitching is the easier of the two, but is not as precise as flipping. Let out enough line so it’s about even with the reel, and keep your reel open. Lower the rod tip towards the water and with your free hand, grab hold of the lure (worm and tube jigs work best) and pull on the line to add tension. In one smooth motion let go of the lure while swinging your rod tip up. This combination should slingshot the bait towards your target. Be sure to close the reel as soon as the bait lands because bass often strike quickly.

Flipping

Flipping takes more practice, but once you get a good feel for it, you can optimize your presentation and hit your target location more precisely than pitching. Begin by letting out somewhere between 8-15 feet of line and then close your reel. Grab the line between the reel and first rod guide, and then extend your arm to the side as you pull on the line. Raise the rod and the bait will now swing towards you. Using a pendulum motion swing the bait to your desired location while feeding the line through your hand. Tighten up the remaining slack and get ready for a strike. It looks a little awkward, but it’’s a great way to get a drop on some shy bass.

Topwater

For many anglers there’’s nothing more exciting than catching a bass with a surface lure. The sound of the lure, the sight of an approaching fish, and the exhilaration of seeing that big splash when a largemouth finally strikes can be enough to get anyone’s heart racing. Unlike pitching or flipping, topwater lures are meant for hungry, active fish. It’’s a true “lure,” designed to attract attention with noise and dramatic movements. There are several kinds of surface lures, like poppers, jitterbugs, and frogs. Some topwater lures are easy and work best with a slow, steady retrieve, like a jitterbug. Others take some more technique. The aptly named ‘popper’ requires an angler to literally pop the lure as it is retrieved, pausing every few seconds and allowing it to go steady, imitating a wounded fish. The sporadic stopping and moving can drive bass crazy. Another popular retrieving method is called ‘walk the dog,’ commonly used for soft surface frog baits. Walking the dog is where you quickly twitch the rod tip up and down for the duration of the slow retrieve.

Winning Techniques: Topwater tips with hardbaits here.

Crankbaits

A crankbait is all about reflex for a bass. They won’t want to chase it down the same way they would for a surface lure, but even so, noise and presentation is still key to using a crankbait right. Crankbaits are a favorite for many tournament anglers because they cover a lot of water, both horizontally and vertically at a variety of depths. They work best around solid objects, like rocks, logs, and stumps. It is possible to use a crankbait along the side of a weedbed, but generally drop-offs and rocky shoals with plenty of solid cover works best. The more you get to know the feel of the way your crankbait swims through the water and bumps into objects the better you will be at catching bass. Think of crankbaits as a teasing lure. Grab the fish’s attention by reeling quickly, then stopping and allowing the crankbait to slowly rise. Then reel up again and make another stop. This can drive bass crazy. When using a deep diver, you can try the ‘bumping the stump’ technique to tease fish into biting. As you reel in and feel your crankbait strike bottom or a rock, stop and let the lure float a little bit. All that noise and movement will bring bass in and wanting to feast on what they think is easy prey.

Must Watch: Check out Karl Kolonka fishing crankbaots on Extreme Angler TV here.

Spinner Bait

Spinner baits are a little trickier than crankbaits because it can be harder to successfully hook a fish given the design of the lure. However, spinner baits are a great year-round lure that can produce results on any given day on any given lake. Retrieval should range from slow to medium speed, and like the crankbait, works best around some solid structure. There are several different ways to use this versatile lure. One method is to allow the spinner bait to fall to the bottom near a drop off. As it hits bottom, reel up the slack, then allow it to fall to the bottom again. Repeat. For the most part; however, you’’ll be reeling in continuously at different paces. The slower you reel in, the deeper the bait tends to swim through the water. When you reel in at a faster rate, try to not to breach the surface. Hanging just below will create a wake that some fish will find irresistible.

Jerkbait

Possibly the simplest technique for bass fishing and certainly the easiest to pick up is jerkbait fishing. The hard part is knowing what jerkbait to use and when to use it. The lures come in many shapes and sizes that swim at varying depths, but no matter how different they may be, the goal remains constant; imitating a wounded fish. As the name implies, jerking the rod tip with a little twitch as you reel in gives the impression that your jerkbait isn’t swimming at full health. Bass love an easy meal, and that’s what you’’re tying to mimic. While you may find success near weeds or in murky water with crank and spinner baits, jerkbaits don’’t have the same versatility. They are best reserved for clear waters as sight is the most important factor for success with this technique.

Dropshotting

This finesse form of fishing takes a little more effort to rig up than the others, but it’’s a crucial technique nonetheless and should be a part of any serious bass angler’s repertoire. If you’’ve fished with a plastic worm, then you can adapt quite quickly to dropshotting. The major difference is that the weight is below the worm– as you reel up the worm and work its magic, the sinker bounces along bottom, leaving your worm several inches up, free for the taking. The length between the worm and sinker can range anywhere from a few inches up to a foot-and-a-half, it all depends on how muddy the lake floor is and how high you want the bait suspended from bottom. Unlike the other techniques mentioned here, you can drop shot without having to retrieve. You can even just let it go from the side of the boat. The key is moving your rod tip in a way to make your bait dance.

The Right Fishing Gear

The Right Tools

The Right Fishing Gear

James HillFishing Tips and Techniques
Over the past few years I’ve been asked the same old question over and over “James, why do you need so many fishing rods; you can only use one at a time?

I’ve had the same Ugly Stick since I was twelve and I’ve never needed any other rod!”. Each time I’m asked a question like this I’m forced to reach deep down into my bag of clichés and pull out gems such as, “You don’t play a round of golf with just a putter” or “You can’t build a house with just a hammer”. You need the right tool for a specific job or in this case the right rod for the situation or technique.

I’m not saying you need to rush out and buy twenty new rods to catch bass. Nor is there a mathematical equation that’ll give you the exact correct answer to how many rods you need to have on the deck of your boat to catch bass. Ask any six dedicated anglers and you’ll get six slightly different answers, it’s all about comfort and how you intend to fish them.

Here’s three versatile rods that can be used to apply a variety of techniques that every bass angler should own whether you’re just starting out in the sport or you’re a seasoned veteran competing in tournaments!

  1. 6’10” Medium/Light power with an Extra Fast action spinning rod… With this rod you’ll be able to apply a lot of “Finesse” techniques with lighter fluorocarbon or braided lines. This rod will serve well for Drop Shotting, Shakey Head, Wacky rigged stickbaits, or 3.5-4” finesse swimbaits. You’ll use this rod to really pick apart an area. You can drop a bait right on top of them vertically with drop shot or slowly move a shakey head or wacky rigged stick bait over the area.

6’10” Medium power with an Extra Fast action casting rod…
With this rod you’ll be able to throw a variety of baits including Top Water (poppers, walkers, props… etc.), Jerkbaits and Tube style baits. This rod will assist in finding fish; you can cover a lot of water quickly with a Top Water bait and look for really aggressive fish. Added bonus with Top Water is even if you don’t get a clean hook up, you’ll get an opportunity to get a quick look at the size of the fish. Jerkbaits are an absolute must when you’re searching for fish they allow you to cover a lot of water to find active bass. Try varying your speeds and pauses until you find the correct combination. Tubes are a must in anyones repetoir. You can cover a lot of water while having a bottom presence imitating a crayfish. If you’re not comfortable with casting gear you can use the same specs with a spinning rod.

  1. 7’2” Medium/Heavy power with a Moderate action casting rod… With this rod you’ll be able to throw a heavier line, I use 15-17bs fluorocarbon. This rod will work for reaction baits such as Spinnerbaits which offer a lot of flash in clearer water situations, or a Chatterbait which will give you a lot of vibration in more of a stained water scenario. Both are great for moving quickly to find active biting bass. This rod will also work well for dragging jigs over an area or pitching at docks, laydowns and other specific cover.

With these three rods you’ll be set up to target fish in different patterns, weather condition and seasons. When you do decide to add a rod to your repertoire; find one that offers the most value for as much as you’re able to spend. Look for rods that come with warranties included and are made with high end components such as guides and reel seats.

Texas Rig Instructions

Texas Rig Instructions

The “Texas Rig” refers to a way of riging your bait. It is one of the most common rigs used while fishing with soft plastics. One of the reasons it’s so popular is because it’s almost completely weedless. This rig is great for fishing in and around weeds and heavy cover.

What you need

  1. Worm hook
  2. Plastic Worm
  3. Bullet Weight

How To rig it

Texas Rig Instructions

Lake Ozark Fishing Report

On Saturday a friend and I began fishing near the dam at daylight.  The water was like glass and his boat glided across the lake.  What a beautiful way to start the day.

Lake conditions : 
Air temp was 55-75
Water temp 62-66
Slight breeze in the morning with increased wind in the afternoon.

Lures: (lures listed based on effectiveness. * indicates fish caught)

*brush hog – darker colors
*money minnow 6″
*sinko
*fluke – white
*jig – PBJ color
*spinner bait -chartreuse
shallow crank – chartreuse
medium depth crank bait – crawdad
buzz bait – chartreuse

We began the day working as a team. We both tried different lures until we figured out the pattern.  Our first fish was caught on a baby brush hog in 4-8 feet of water.  We immediately began to work the bottom with brush hogs and jigs.   Our best fish were caught while sitting in 15-20 feet while casting to the bank.  Most of the fish were caught at a depth of 4-10 feet with chunk rock on the bank.  We had very few fish in areas with pea gravel or sand.   By 830 we had six keepers ranging from 3.5 to 4.5 lbs.
By 930 the large fish simply quit.  I am not sure why they decided to shut down, but several conditions changed.  The temp began to rise, the wind picked up, then it clouded over.
It was time to try different tactics.  We tried deeper water, spinners, crankbaits, and several others, but had no luck.  We did find some large females on beds, but they refused to bite and were difficult to locate.
 
Fishing was slow the rest of the day and we called it quits when the storm rolled in around 2pm.
Overall – brush hogs were a hit in 4-10 ft on chunk rock banks.