Advanced Bass Fishing Techniques: Winter Tips

By Andy Whitcomb

Jan 23, 2017

Winter fishing conditions can vary greatly. To find a technique for cold bass, you will need to be able to show a variety of presentations.

Winter here has been a wild ride so far. One week the “high” is in the teens; the next, it is in the 50s. This results in a wide range of fishing conditions. Some lakes were reporting 6 inches of ice. Others have areas of open water so proceed with caution. “Old ice” that has formed again after a melt is not as strong as new ice.  

Here are a few advanced bass fishing tips for winter:

If the ice is safe, (for example, I got a report that some of the ice in Minnesota is over 24” thick!) scale down your tackle. Light line prevents from spooking fish, and although thin line is much easier to break, a cold bass will lack the power of a warm one. Just be patient.

When fishing for bass through ice, many anglers like to use smaller lures. Soft plastics of less than 3 inches attached to a drop shot rig may be just the ticket. However, some maintain that winter bass prefer not to bother with the small lures and insist on larger baits such as live golden shiners or small sunfish.

When fishing at least partially open water, keep in mind that the edges of shelf ice may act like the edge of a giant frozen lily pad when bass fishing. Lures such as spoons and lipless crankbaits are terrific at getting reaction strikes if you let them flutter down. An underspin lure like a Road Runner dragged across the bottom can awaken sluggish, cold bass. And a painfully slow jerkbait presentation is one of my wintertime favorites.

Depending on what conditions you find, there are a variety of advanced bass fishing techniques that may work this time of year. Experiment until you get dialed in on what the bass want. Part of the fun of fishing is the discovery. And I just discovered no open water and that the ice is too thin, so I might head to a boat show and try to pick up some more advanced bass fishing techniques.  

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.