The winter months can be some of the most difficult during which to consistently locate and catch bass. During this time of year, the water is cold and the metabolism of the fish is very slow. As a result, the bass do not need to eat much and will not expend much energy chasing down a meal. However, for those anglers who want to fish year-round, there are bass to be caught in the winter.
Find the Bass
Since the water temperature is so cold, bass are not likely to chase a bait that is moving quickly. As a result, the spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits that you relied upon to find fish when the water was warmer are all but useless now. The bass will take a meal if they can get it, but they will not work too hard to get it. As a result, slow-moving lures like large plastic worms, jigs and pigs, jigging spoons and crankbaits with a slow, wide wobble are best during the winter. But since you are fishing with slow-moving lures, you need to find the bass before you begin fishing. A fishfinder is particularly helpful. Look around points, ridges and humps that are near the main creek channel. Clear-water areas also tend to produce better than stained- or dirty-water areas. Look for bait fish, too, like shad. The bass may not chase them all day long, but they will be near their food sources.
A spinnerbait that zooms by a bass’s nose likely will not draw a second look from the fish, but a big jig and pig that weighs 1/2-oz. or more and is retrieved slowly along the bottom might be just the ticket. Since bass have to expend energy to eat, and since they do not have much extra energy when the water is cold in the winter, choose a large, slow-moving bait. The bass will see that it is moving slow, so it should be easy to catch, and also that it is big, so the bass does not have to eat again for a while.
Drop a Spoon
Jigging spoons can be especially productive in the winter, because bass are often found in schools. Once anglers locate those schools of bass, dropping a jigging spoon into the school and lifting up and letting it drop is a good way to entice bass to bite. Since anglers fish a jigging spoon in a vertical fashion, they also can fish very specific areas that are holding bass. The distance you raise and lower the jigging spoon is an important part of getting bass to bite. Experiment until the bass let you know which they prefer.
Temper Your Expectations
The bass angler who heads to the water in the winter and expects to catch large numbers of bass is likely to be disappointed. Most anglers who fish during the winter months consider a couple of quality bass per day to be pretty good.