With the pressure of tournament fishing out of the way and the Summer boat traffic a distant memory, being able to enjoy a day on the lake can be tranquil slice of paradise. No matter which type of lake or river you fish, it’s important to start the day with a plan of attack. During this time of year, bass feed preparing for ongoing Winter, eating almost anything that swims or crawls. However, this doesn’t mean they are easy to catch or that one particular bait will be more effective than another. It requires an open mind, attention to detail, and access to a wide variety of baits.
Location:I first begin the day by determining what type of cover the lake has to offer. If vegetation is plentiful, I scout the lake to determine type, location and depth. Once I have searched the lake, I begin in the area that offers the most available cover and the clearest water. I start my plan of attack at a weedline, keying in on any irregular features while paying attention to isolated mats, points bends and water depth. The back of coves where the bottom flattens and shallows out can be also be good. The other productive types of cover that I like to fish in the Winter are hardwood and rock. When a lake has hardwood cover, I always give it the respect it deserves. There have been hundred of thousands of fish caught on stumps and laydowns, the Winter months are no less productive.
Lure Selection & Presentation:I have four go-to baits that I like to use. If the vegetation is scattered, I’ll tie on a 3/8oz Hawg Caller Sexy Shad spinnerbait with a double or triple willow combination. I also like Excalibur XR50 and XR75 series lipless crankabits in shad patterns. For fishing thicker vegetation when the water is above 50 degrees, the Spro Bronzeye Frog is my first choice. Last but not least, I like soft plastic creature baits such as a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver in hematoma or California 420. The Spro frog works great around all types of vegetation. I like to work it using a “walk the dog” retrieve. In heavier vegetation and around isolated mats, I use the Sweet Beaver coupled with a tungsten weight that’s just heavy enough to penetrate the mat. For visible hardwood cover, I start with a buoyant square-bill crankbait like the Lucky Craft 1.5 or 2.5 in the American shad or splatter back series. Making precise casts, bumping the structure and varied retrieval speeds are the keys to working this type of structure. Always target cover that is closest to the boat and work to the farthest point. By approaching structure in this manner, you are less likely to spook other fish when you catch one.