Winter is here in the South! Most people are hunkered down in the warmth of their homes, but you’ll still find me and the few bass fishing faithful out on the water, braving the elements and catching lots of bass. If you have never had a chance to go wintertime bass fishing, give it a try this year. Pick a warmer, sunny, calm day (what few you’ll have) and make it a point to go. You don’t have to go early either; the best bite is usually between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Here are some tips that continually boat fish all over the country in the winter.
Winter Fishing Conditions & Cover
The water temps will usually be (depending on our location in the country) in the upper 30s to the mid-50s. This will really limit your tackle section, which is why winter fishing for me is so simple. You don’t have to wonder if people are catching them 100 different ways. Key elements to consider when picking a fishing location and lure are: (1) water temp, (2) cover and (3) water clarity.
I start out fishing the clearest water in the lake, which is usually by the dam in winter months. Water temps in winter will usually tell me how slow to fish, but I usually do not chase down 0.5-degree warmer water in winter like I would in the spring. As a general example: In 50-degree water, I can move my jerkbait at a medium retrieve. 47-degree water, I’m giving it a three-count pause. 42-degree water, I’m giving it a six- to eight-second pause in between jerks. Below 40 degrees … I’m giving it 10 seconds between jerks.
If in a river system, most of the river will be blown out due to rain runoff. That’s when I’ll target the deepest backwater spots that bend back up river; this usually prevents the muddy water from flowing back up inside the backwater. Your clearest water will be in these types of backwaters.
If you have any hot water discharges or power plant lakes, you’re in for a treat. You might have to ask around and do some homework to find these locations. The California Delta has three locations like this, and most everyday fisherman do not know about them, but they are deadly in the winter.
Winter Fishing Tackle
In general, I only need five rods rigged up all winter long.
- A jerkbait
- A lipless crankbait – especially around grass
- A deep crankbait
- An Alabama Rig
- A spoon of some type
If I were to add a sixth rod, it would be a jig-with-pork combo.
I usually start with a Lucky Craft Flash Pointer 115 in MS American Shad and an LV500 in MS American Shad and adjust the size and the color from there based on the conditions. The SKT Magnum Series of crankbaits has been amazing for me this year; it’s my new confidence crankbait. For A-Rigging you can’t beat the Picasso Bait Ball Extreme 7-arm 16-bait rig. I know it sounds ridiculous, but if you’re not throwing one around the dams and points, you’re really missing out! I’ve caught three to four fish at a time with this rig. And for a spoon, it can really depend, but it’s hard to beat an ol’ Hopkins ¾-ozx Gold Smooth Finish spoon.
Good luck this winter, and give it a go and let me know how you’re doing. Next article, I’ll discuss picking the proper jerkbait (deep lip, shallow lip, color, size, etc.)
by James Smiley