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