4 Fishing Tips and Tricks for Fishing Slower in Cold Water

Cold water means a lower metabolism for fish. This does not mean they won’t bite, but some changes in technique are in order, such as learning to fish slower.


One great cold water bass lure is the jerkbait. Mark Zona, host of Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show, casts this lipped, suspending lure all winter. He reels to get some depth, twitches it a couple of times, then gives it a pause. Sometimes this period of inactivity is as long as 30 seconds. He says you have to convince yourself that a bass, a bluegill or even a crappie is slowly investigating that lure and if you let it get close enough, there will be a reaction bite with the next twitch.

I find it extremely difficult to let a hard bait sit that long without reeling, but here are some waiting fishing tips and tricks:

  1. Not entirely in jest, between jerks Zona suggests, “text somebody.” Along those same lines, you might use your camera to take a picture or make a short video of the chilly scenery during a pause between twitches.
  2. Sometimes, just basic line issues will slow down a retrieve while fishing in frigid conditions. As soon as monofilament feels that cold water, it wants to curl. This increases the chances of loops and perhaps knots, which produces something to untangle, and thus keep you busy during a pause.
  3. Zona also selects a baitcaster reel with a gear ratio that forces him to slow down. He can still retrieve, but with a lower gear ratio, it will bring the line in slower than a reel with a higher gear ratio.
  4. If I am moving while casting along a shoreline, to slow my lure retrieval, I will change the angle of my cast to more in front of me rather than out to the side. This way, part of my reeling is just to make up for my moving towards the lure.


As long as there is still open water, I’ll be out there casting. And if you see me taking pictures of a bird’s nest in my line, while shivering in my neoprene waders, I’m just working a jerkbait.

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.