Cold Winter Bassin
Written By: Randy Pringle, March 12, 2012
Although it might be cold, bass fishing at this time of year can be good. You must approach winter bass with an open mind. The weather can change instantly from fog to sun to wind and then here comes the rain. If you’re smart you’ll prepare yourself for fishing in the face of all these elements. For example the colors of your lure selection will change throughout the day with different types of sunlight.
I like to approach the morning by checking the weather. This will allow me to select the most fishable areas. As you know, some areas just cannot be fished in high winds. The reaction bite, working on the bass’ lateral line is kind of an open book regardless of conditions. If it is flat, calm, and you can work top water baits slow enough you can catch bass on the surface. The top water bite might not be my first choice, but it is there to play with. I would have to say my first choices are suspending Wild Shiner rip baits, crankbaits and Diamond Shad. All these are made by the Strike King Company.
Let’s talk about color and how to fish these baits. The Bleeding Bait Series Wild Shiner in calico is one of my favorite colors. My other two top selections are the bleeding white fish and the shad. You should not work this bait fast.
When working in aqua green water, I prefer 20 pound test Berkley Transition Fluorocarbon Line, using a seven foot Techna AV medium action Fenwick rod with an Abu Garcia 6.4 gear ratio Revo reel. The sensitivity of this rod and line combination will help you detect subtle strikes.
Cast the bait parallel to your target, point your rod tip towards the water, crank the reel six to seven times and then stop. Wait from five to ten seconds, I know this is a long time, but these bass are cold so it takes time for them to react. Take up your slack in the line by lifting your rod tip and reeling until your line is tight. Don’t pull, drop your rod tip once then twice twitching the bait left to right. Wait another five to ten seconds. Repeat this rhythm back to the boat. The strike will come as you are watching the line. Pay attention to that line so you can detect the strike. Vary your colors until you find the right one.
I like the Strike King number five crankbait for fishing the delta at this time of the year because it allows me to get down close to the bottom of the weeds where the bass are holding. I like to stay with shad and crawdad patterns. I reel the bait down so it can tick the top of the structure, pause, twitch the crankbait and then begin reeling again. This will give the illusion that the bait is injured.
With the Diamond Shad I like the same color patterns, in the half ounce size. Knowing the depth is very important when working the Diamond Shad. With this bait, you want to tick the tops of the weeds, not bury the bait into the weeds. As the bait is cast out it will sink. Count the bait down. If it is six feet, count six the start your retrieve. As you retrieve, pull your rod tip up a little higher then drop it about three feet. This will make the Diamond Shad rise them fall again giving the bass the illusion that the bait is injured.
If you have a little ripple on the water or low light conditions, the Persuader Spinner Bait in the Bleeding Minnow Series is a great selection. If I am fishing on the high tide I want to keep it in the strike zone as much as possible, so a 3/8 or ¼ ounce bait is my choice. On the low tide I fish the outside weed line with a ½ ounce bait. At times I also use the Persuader chartreuse and white, one ounce spinnerbait.
When I want to slow down and give the bass a presentation that they just cannot stand, I turn to dead sticking. This is boring but successful approach. I have found that the Berkley GULP! gives me the edge because it puts off so much scent. As far as body shapes go, Punch Craw, Night Crawler and Sinking Minnow are my favorites. My color selections for these baits are pumpkin, green pumpkin, watermelon and watermelon red flake.
I rig these baits Texas Style with a Tru-Tungsten 3/16 or ¼ ounce weight and a Daiichi 2/0 or 3/0 Bleeding Bait offset hook. Rigged this way gives the baits a small and lifelike profile.
Using a flipping stick or worm rod, I let the GULP work itself, giving the bait time to dispense it’s scent. This is the tough part…DON’T move the bait. If your cast was accurate you are probably in the right area. Wait the bass out. If you find you are getting hit but you cannot put the hook in the bass, change the color. This goes for all your baits.
The areas I like to focus on with these baits are spots just out of current. The bass will be close to it, but the majority will not be in it and as the weather gets colder the bass will migrate further away from current seeking deeper and warmer water.