Winter bass fishing might seem frustrating to at times. Low water temperatures can mean lethargic fish that require more time and effort to catch. However, if you are always trying to improve as an angler, bass fishing in the winter is a great way to challenge your skills by focusing on entirely different locations, techniques, and patterns than you would during other seasons of the year.
1. Locate Rocks and Vertical Structure
When winter bass fishing on a natural lake, don’t overlook rocks and vertical structure near a deep drop-off. One of the key winter bass fishing tips to consider is that bass will often move vertically throughout the water column. This means that finding vertical structure (think dock pilings or a steep-sided creek channel) adjacent to deep water is a very important component when it comes to finding a reliable winter fishing pattern.
2. Find the Warmest Water
If you plan to go bass fishing in winter on a windy day, scout out the spots that have the warmest water temperatures. Even a couple of degrees can make difference when it comes to finding fish that are more active. This might mean locating the calmest waters on a lake since wind can lower the water temperature or finding shallow water that warms up later in the afternoon following a morning of bright, sunny conditions. Areas of dark mud or clay bottom will also retain more heat on days with abundant sunlight.
3. Slow Down Your Retrieve
Work your winter bass fishing lures with a slow and steady retrieve because bass move much slower in the cold weather. When the water is below the preferred feeding temperature range for bass, they won’t expend much energy to chase down fast-moving baits or lures. They are more likely to feed opportunistically on subtle presentations that don’t require much effort. Making precise casts that put baits and lures close to where fish are holding will also contribute to more bites.
4. Downsize Your Lures and Baits
Which are the best winter bass fishing lures? Winter is the time to bring out the small lure profiles and use baits with subtle action. Some examples of winter bass fishing lures or baits to use are soft plastic worms, hair jigs, curly tail grubs, suspending jerkbaits, Ned rigs, and shakyhead jigs. In addition to downsizing, consider using natural colors when selecting lures and baits if you are fishing areas of clear water during the winter.
5. Where to Fish in Low-Light Conditions
When nighttime winter bass fishing or fishing at dusk in the winter months, find permanent light sources to fish around if possible. This might include focusing on docks, bridges, or piers that have lights. You are likely to notice that baitfish will congregate in the water near these light sources, and bass are often lingering in the shadow lines outside the edges of the light… waiting for an easy meal. If you decide to fish at night during the winter (or anytime), keep in mind that extra safety precautions need to be taken. Layer your clothing to stay warm and be sure to bring along flashlights and headlamps.
Get out to try a few of these winter bass fishing suggestions. They can break you out of your comfort zone by challenging you to use different baits and lures from your usual presentations. When you think more strategically about where the fish will be holding in cooler water temperatures, you are likely to see better catch rates and results.