Cold Water Bass Fishing

By Andy Whitcomb

Dec 05, 2016

Change your lures and techniques to catch bass in cold water.

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 is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.