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Written By: Cal Kellogg, March 12, 2012
Conventional wisdom dictates that when it comes to pulling black bass out of lakes and reservoirs during the winter months, skirted jigs and jigging spoons are the best and perhaps only lures to use. As effective as these offering had proven to be when the water temperature plummets, there are other options. If you are tired of dragging jigs tipped with pork and securitizing the screen of your sonar unit to watch the progress of a jigging spoon darting 40 feet below the boat continue reading…
During the winter crankbaits and rip baits can both be reliable bass producers, but to be successful you’ve got to properly evaluate several factors. First and foremost for these baits to draw strikes the weather has to be stable. If the pressure and water temperature are bouncing up and down. Stick with jigs, plastics or live baits or be prepared to get skunked.
Assuming the weather has been stable you still have another factor to consider. What is the water clarity? For crankbaits and rip baits to do good business during the winter the water has to be clear enough for the fish to see them from some distance.
Finally, you’ve got factor in the water temperature. If the water is really cold, say below 48 degrees, you’ll really be fighting an uphill battle by tying on a crank or rip.
Okay we’ve defined the playing field. Let’s say the weather had been stable, the water temperature around 50 degrees and you’ve found fairly clear water. How do you go about cranking and ripping cold water fish?
Step number one is selecting conducive structure. Many of the bass that reside in reservoirs move into deep water that is well out of the range of the deepest running crankbaits and rip baits, yet there are always fish bass holding in the top 15 feet of the water column.
Rocky main lake points, rocky bluffs and submerged creek channels that feature rock piles and/or standing timber are all prime locations for the winter bass enthusiast to probe with crankbaits and rip baits.
Once you’ve found some areas that feature the proper structure in the correct depth range, it’s time to start fishing. Break out a pair of baitcasters rigged with 8 or 10 pound fluorocarbon line. This fine line will allow the baits to work at the deepest possible depth. Arm one rod with a suspending deep diving baitfish pattern crankbait. Tie a thin profile baitfish pattern suspending rip bait on the other rod.
When using the crank it is critical to reel it down to its maximum depth and keep it crawling slowly forward until you feel it make contact with the structure. When you feel contact stop the bait and do not move it for as long as possible. As you dead stick the bait keep a close eye on your line. If it goes slack or jumps, set the hook without hesitation.
The approach to fishing rip baits is much the same, but it isn’t as critical to actually hit the structure with them. With a rip bait reel the lure down to a location were you believe bass can see it, rip it once and then dead stick it. The longer you allow the bait to set dead in the water the more strikes you will get.
Whether you are working a crankbait or a rip bait, slathering your lures with a high quality natural scent such as those offered by BioEdge will often close the deal when a bass moves in close to inspect the lure as it sets motionless in the water column.
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