Cold Water Bass Fishing

Just because it is cold now, do not put your fishing gear in storage until spring. By adjusting your techniques, the bass fishing can be surprisingly good during winter. In fact, Tennessee Bassmaster Elite pro Brandon Colter believes that big smallmouth “come alive at 55.”  

Here’s how to catch bass in cold water:

Finesse. Switch to lighter line and try a small jig at the front of a 6-inch rubber worm. Try to keep in contact with the bottom and give it slow, little hops.

Jerkbait. The trick here is letting it pause between twitches. It is difficult for me to let a hard lure just sit suspended for 20 seconds between jerks. To help pass the time, Bassmaster host Mark Zona suggests, “text someone.” Build your confidence in a small pond before trying this on a large lake.

Jigging spoon. The action of a spoon fluttering down to the bottom works in cold water and continues, even under ice even though you may need to scale down to smaller spoons.

Umbrella rig. Bass may be bunched up this time of year and suspended. Where this multi-lure rig is legal, the appearance of a school of bait fish is hard to pass up even to a cold, sulking bass.

Lipless crankbait. Rip this lure up and let it flutter down to the top of submerged vegetation. I was amazed how quickly Bassmaster Elite Kevin VanDam fished this lure on a tournament lake that was covered with ice just the day before. Cold water fishing is now the only time I cast this lure.

When the water is cold, bass metabolism slows and they don’t need to eat as much. However in general, if you change your lures and slow down, you can still tempt bass into strikes. The exception is the logic-defying lipless crankbait which is worked surprisingly fast.  Even though the year is almost over, make sure your fishing license and boat registration is up to date. The cold bass bite still won’t let me put my boat away. 

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 since 2011.