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Bass Angler Magazine

Six Best Winter Bass Fishing Tips

Bass are some of the most widely sought-after fish – and lucky for you, bass can be found all over the planet.

Fishing for bass isn’t necessarily challenging, but you might feel limited because you think you can only fish during the warmer months of the year.

If that’s the way you’re thinking, then think again.

There’s a myth out there that bass can’t be caught in winter weather – but I’m here to debunk that myth as well as to give you some solid winter bass fishing tips.

Is it Possible to Catch Bass in the Winter?

You wouldn’t believe how many people think that you can’t catch bass in the winter – hopefully you are not one of these people yourself!

You can catch bass at any time of the year – even past fall. 

Lots of anglers assume otherwise because bass are, of course, cold-blooded, and so dropping temperatures can significantly impact the bodily functions of a fish. 

In particular, colder weather will cause bass to metabolize food more slowly. Therefore, bass won’t feed as often.

Note that I wrote feed as often – not at all

Bass still need to eat in the winter! So, while cold weather can make it more challenging to catch bass, that’s not to say that you can’t catch these fish once the mercury falls.

6 Best Winter Bass Fishing Tips

As I mentioned, bass won’t necessarily be inactive during the winter, but they’ll be less active. 

You’ll need to make a few changes and considerations before you head to your next winter bass fishing tip. 

1. Downsize with the Right Baits and Equipment

Some people think that using live bait to fish for bass is cheating – but in the winter, you’ve got to take any help you can get. 

While you can absolutely use lures, too, live bait will give you a better chance of catching more fish. 

You’ll want to use smaller baits, however. In the winter, bass aren’t going to be quite as likely to fight each other for big chunks of food. 

Small, bite-sized chunks are going to be much more appealing to these fish than large portion sizes. 

Use small baitfish, such as creek minnows and shiners, or even just worms to attract bass. 

You’ll also want to fish with the right gear. Choose a suitable fishing reel that is designed for bass, ideally one that can accommodate slower fishing techniques and methods.

The same goes for your fishing line. You can find some tips on how to select the right fishing line here.

2. Slow Things Down

Bass are going to move more slowly in the winter. After all, it makes sense – they have icy-cold water flowing through their bodies.  You’d move more slowly, too! 

Yet despite this logic, very few bass anglers actually adapt their fishing strategies during the winter and keep fishing at the same speeds they would during the warmer months of the year.

In the winter, you’ve got to slow things down. Mirror the action of the bass right back at them. Keep the action of your bait lethargic, steady, and slow – we’re talking a snail’s pace. 

Keep your bait close to the bottom of the water column, where bass are most likely to be hanging out and hold it steady.

Bass are going to be much more likely to nibble on the food they don’t have to fight for, so don’t make them work for it. 

3. Stay Close to Shore

During the winter, bass are much more likely to hang out near the shore because the shallows will be a lot warmer.

Not only that, they’ll migrate toward the banks because this is where baitfish hang out. It’s also where you’ll find more structure, which appeals to bass because it gives them a spot to relax and feed. 

Sure, you can fish from a boat on the shore, but there’s no reason to get your propeller wet if you’re going to be fishing that close to the land. 

Consider just fishing from the banks and leave the boat at home – this will be just as effective. 

You can also tailor your technique here so that you’re directly on top of the bass. You won’t have to worry about trying to sneak up on them since you’ll already be in position. 

You also won’t have to fight with challenging winter conditions like wind and heavy waves. 

Position yourself right in the sun and consider using a drop shot rig. You’ll have a good shot at catching fish, even if they are a bit more sluggish.

You might also consider fishing the pockets. 

If you’re on a pond or lake, the bass will head to the deepest pockets of the water when the weather turns. 

They like these deeper spots because they’ll find easy-to-swallow bottom-dwelling prey. 

It can be tough to find bass when they’re nestled in these deep spots but using a fishfinder can help. 

When the temperature is below 50 degrees or so, look for pockets that are about 15 to 30 feet deep. This is where bass will most likely congregate. 

4. Use the Right Bottom Fishing Technique

If you’re going after fish on the bottom of the lake or river, you’ll need to tailor your technique to this unique environment. 

Use a shakey head or dropshot rig here. This will look natural to the bass in this environment and will also be easy for you to manipulate and maneuver, even in deeper waters.

5. Consider Using Other Kinds of Lures

You’ll want to get creative with your lures when it comes to winter bass fishing. Some are definitely more effective than others.

For example, you’re not going to want any topwater lures or other fast-moving options. Instead, use things like football head jigs, metal baits, or jerkbaits.

Football head jigs look a lot like crawfish, one of the favorite foods of a bass. Pick a lure in a color that mirrors those of crawfish in your area (brown or green usually work, if you’re not sure). 

This will give you the best shot at catching fish. 

The slower you can fish with one of these jigs, the better. 

You can also use a jerkbait. Jerkbaits are best used in cool, clean water, or they won’t be visible to the bass. You can use them around structures for the best results.

Finally, you might consider using metal baits. These durable baits, like blades and spoons, will hold up remarkably well to cold water conditions. 

Not only are they accessible and easy to use, but they look like dying baitfish – so bass are more likely to bite because they are easy targets. 

Other options you might consider include Rapala shad raps or softer plastic baitfish. You can also use a hair jig – if you do, you don’t need to use a trailer. Just some deer hair is fine. 

If your goal is to get as many bites as you can, keep the baits light and small. The fish simply aren’t going to be eating as much as they would be in warmer weather. 

Lightweight baits are best at this time of the year. Although big baits might be fine in warm weather, the digestive system of the bass simply can’t handle heavy baits in the winter. 

Use nothing bigger than a quarter or three-eighths of an ounce. It shouldn’t be bigger than four or so inches in length, either. You’ll be setting yourself up for failure otherwise!

6. Know When to Fish

The best time of day to fish for bass is in the afternoon – but that’s not the only time you can go after these finicky fish.

True, the best hours for bass fishing will be between 2 p.m. and sunset. 

This is when the sun will have warmed up the water enough to get the baitfish active, and the bass will be moving around in pursuit of them.

The afternoon is a particularly good time to fish when the day is very cold. 

That said, the afternoon is not your only option. You can fish at any time of the day, as long as the sun’s up. 

Head out an hour or so before sunrise and stay all day – you’re likely to find some fish at some point throughout the day.

The Best Winter Bass Fishing Tip: Be Patient!

The best tip I can give you for fishing for bass in the winter is to be patient. Winter bass fishing isn’t always easy, but it’s always fun. 

You may find that there is a slight learning curve involved in fishing for bass during the colder months, so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit. 

You likely won’t get as many nibbles as you do during the warmer months, but that’s ok. Bring along hot coffee and plenty of snacks, and you won’t even notice the wait!

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