3 Ways a Polar Plunge Catches Fish: Cold Water Techniques

When retrieved, lures vary greatly in their range of actions such as the tightness of wobble, depth of dive, or amount of flash from a spinning blade. However there are many occasions such as fishing in cold water, where just the drop IS the action. As the lure falls to the bottom or earlier preferred depth, you may find that on your first crank of the reel, a fish may already be there.

One technique for bass anglers where cold water is still open is to slowly hop a bulky jig along the bottom. By lifting the rod tip slowly the jig swims above the rocks but then by dropping the tip of the rod, the jig suddenly dives. This change of direction, along with the wiggling jig trailer or pulsing skirt as it falls, can entice sluggish bass out of their cold water stupor.


Another surprising cold water technique is the lipless crankbait. What is amazing is how quickly this lure can be worked under these conditions. Rather than a straight retrieve, reel as you lift your rod tip, then let it flutter down, just barely touching the top of any remaining weed beds and be ready for a reaction bite. Bassmaster Elite tournament angler, Kevin VanDam, put on quite a show with this technique when he won the 2010 Bassmaster Classic in one small cove that was ice covered only two days earlier.

Perhaps in no other type of fishing is the falling action of the lure more important than with ice fishing. Here, you can’t cast; every lure is limited to just vertical action. Ice fishermen often bounce tiny jigs up and down between target depths where fish may be located. Yellow perch and crappie are caught through the ice at one local lake here in Pennsylvania by using a wide range of spoons which flutter and wobble as they sink.

The drop of a lure is an action that communicates vulnerability to predatory fish. It looks so much like an easy snack that fish may hit, even though not necessarily hungry in cold water, due to low metabolism.

Do you have a favorite polar plunge fishing technique?

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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.