The frigid winter months for most bass fisherman can be a very frustrating time of year. Some might say it’s the off-season for bass anglers. Yet a true angler never takes an off season! So the question becomes how does an angler continue to put together a solid day on the water when most people wont even step outside?
First we need to understand that bass are looking for an easy meal during the cold winter months. They are not interested in chasing a meal too far where they begin to tire. Rather they prefer an easy to eat bait. Which is why bait selection at this time is critical.
In very cold water, a bass will move only a minimal distance for food. The bait of choice has to be something that is equal or greater than the energy expended. This is a crucial thing to remember when choosing your bait. Compare your own lifestyle during the winter months typically you aren’t going out much or when you do your stocking up so that you can spend as little amount of time out in the cold as possible! Well it’s the same for bass. Why should the fish dash around for small items of food when it will not compensate for the energy expended to chase down and catch it? This is why baits like 10 inch worms and big swim baits can land you the fish of a life time during winter because giant bass are more likely to bite a larger bait in cold winter waters because it makes up for the energy expended to hunt down that lure! So now that we know the ambitions of a bass during winter we can better understand how to attack our day on the water.
So now its time to chase Mr. Largemouth. Actually, "chase" may not be the right word in these cold water temperatures. A slow, steadfast pursuit is more like it. Typically, fishing during the late winter period is characterized by a few quality fish being caught, but not quantities of fish. The cold water has the bass' metabolism slowed way down, and a fish only has to eat once every 14 days or so when the water is 50 degrees. The bass are just simply inactive most of the time in the cold water of winter, hence, our difficulty in catching them. To catch these fish, my experience tells me that an angler needs to slow way down, and drag jigs and plastics slowly on the bottom and I mean really slow down. Almost to the point where it becomes painfully slow you may still get a reaction bite this time of year but your chances go way up once you simply slow your presentation down. Focus on keeping your bait in high percentage areas where you suspect the fish to be and begin to taunt the fish into striking let the bass really get a good look at your bait. Try tactics like dead sticking where you leave your bait motionless for minutes at a time and if your using a swim bait or spinner slow roll those baits as slow as you can.
To summarize remember that the bait of choice has to be something that is equal to or greater to the amount of energy expended and that simply slowing your presentation down will lead to more strikes this winter! Hope all of you catch your trophy bass this year. Make sure you practice catch and release so your children and grandchildren can have the same great bass fishing we now have!
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