Skip to main content

10 Tips for Deep Early Winter Largemouths

Bass fishing in the early cold-weather months can be very good; follow these tips and tactics to find and catch your share of cold-water lunkers

10 Tips for Deep Early Winter Largemouths
10 Tips for Deep Early Winter Largemouths

December can be a great bass fishing month for savvy anglers. Problem is, many anglers aren’t so savvy. They don’t fish this time of year because they don’t know the specialized tactics needed to catch largemouths that have moved to deep, cold water.

If you’ve been part of this stay-at-home group but would rather be fishing, hitch up the boat, head for your favorite bass lake and give these tips a try.

Find Super-structure

Super-structure is a smaller, specific component of much larger structure where winter bass gather. Let’s use creek channels to illustrate the principle. Deep, primary creek channels are among the best structures to fish during winter, but bass aren’t found along each channel’s entire length. Instead, they gather in small schools where the channel exhibits some sort of change. This may be where a secondary channel intersects the main channel or around a tree standing on a sharp bend—anything different from the norm. Use a bottom contour map and fish-finder to pinpoint these hotspots, then fish them hard. Finding super-structure can mean the difference between catching lots of bass or none at all.

Look for Ledges

When using sonar, scan for underwater ledges near bankside bluffs. These are hotspots for cold-weather largemouths, especially when found near timber, brushpiles or other bass cover. Big soft-plastic crayfish are ideal lures for fishing them. Cast to the bluff and work the lure down the drop-off, hopping it in stair-step fashion until you get a hit.


Winter Springs

Underwater springs bubbling up in a lake bottom often attract winter bass. Spring water stays at a constant temperature, usually 60 to 70 degrees, thus attracting baitfish, which in turn attract bass. Temperature gauges can help locate springs. Watch, too, for springs revealed where vapors rise from the warmer water’s surface on cold days. The water around a spring is usually clearer than the rest of a lake, so use lighter line and smaller, realistic lures or live bait.


Seek Power

Many bass lakes provide cooling water for adjacent electrical power plants. Such waters provide some of the fastest winter action available. Look for bass around cover and structure near discharge outlets where warm water flows into the lake. Discharges create a warm subsurface current covering a big area, and to enjoy success, you’ll have to search to zero in on bass hideouts. Sometimes power-plant current hugs the shore; it may curve offshore. A temperature gauge can help you determine the pattern so you can fish where largemouths are likely to be.

Trap Your Quarry

Vertical jigging with a lipless crankbait such as the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap or Cordell’s Super Spot is deadly on winter bass around deep structure such as sunken islands, rock ridges and channel drops. Position your boat over the structure, then lower the lure to the bottom. Reel the slack from your line. Lift the lure off the bottom and let it free-fall, but don’t fish it with a 3- or 4-foot jigging action like you would in summer. Use a shorter drop, twitching the rod tip vertically and letting the lure flutter back, always on a tight line so a bite won’t be missed.

Vertical Spooning

Jigging spoons are excellent for fishing deep winter structure such as bottom channels. Work the lure vertically using a gentle lift-drop motion, always on a tight line so a bite won’t be missed.

Minor alterations to a spoon sometimes improve fishing. For example, in muddy water, you can super-glue an Excalibur Rattle to the spoon. The added sound may help bass zero in on your lure. Or, if the spoon you’re using has a plain treble, consider using a feather-dressed treble instead.


Big Cranks for Big Bass

Big, deep-diving crankbaits are hard to beat for enticing trophy-class largemouths in cold water. Bass don’t reach trophy size by using lots of energy running down mere tidbits of food. The biggest ones prefer a big mouthful. You’ll need to work the lure properly, however, if you expect it to entice a heavyweight. One good way is to crank the bait deep very quickly, then work your rod with a pump-and-drop action, pulling the rod forward and dropping it back. This allows the lure to “tread water,” giving slow-moving winter bass the chance to catch up and inhale it.

Swim a Swimbait

Swimbaits also are good lunker catchers this season. They’re available in sizes up to a foot long, and whenever a fish grabs something that big, you can bet it’s going to be big, too. Use a 7- to 8-foot flipping stick and baitcasting reel spooled with braid. Cast the lure, let it sink to deep structure, then bring it in with a steady retrieve. Work it nice and steady. You want the swimbait to mimic a lazy baitfish swimming along. When a bass hits, it may feel soft or like you’re hung up. When that happens, tighten down on the fish and set the hook as hard as you can.

Helicopter Drop

Spinnerbaits aren’t usually considered good winter bass lures, but they sometimes can be “helicoptered” beside rock bluffs and creek channels to entice lethargic cold-water largemouths.  A heavy spinnerbait (up to 2 ounces) with a single large blade works best. The lure is bounced down the drop-off on a tight line; rod tip movement controls its fall. As the lure flutters down, the blade spins. Usually bass strike on the drop, so watch your line closely for slackening or sideways movement that indicates a hit. Whatever clue you get, strike hard and fast.


Keep Moving

If you’ve followed all the tips above and still aren’t catching bass, keep on the move, trying new locations until you find your quarry. A common mistake is staying in one place too long. If bass are present and feeding, they’ll usually let you know right away.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Simms Flyweight Wader

Simms Flyweight Wader

Constructed of three different kinds of Gore-Tex fabric, the Simms Flyweight Wader is durable, breathable, and features stretch in key areas of movement and stress that happen during a day of wade fishing out on a fast flowing trout stream.

Daiwa Tatula 300 Baitcaster

Daiwa Tatula 300 Baitcaster

The new Tatula reel is perfect when an angler is on the water fishing big baits for big bass!

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

Major League Fishing pros Alton Jones, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi and James Watson share their thoughts on how to approach fishing a new lake for bass.

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

In-Fisherman's Managing Editor, Rob Neuman, sits down with bass pro Josh Douglas, to get insight on the all-new ShimanoVanford spinning reel. It features a LongStroke Spool for long-distance casting. The Vanford spinning reel will be available in 7 sizes: 500-5000. MSRP: $299.99 - $239.99.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together Wild Game

10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together

Game & Fish Online Staff

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river.How to Catch Catfish Day and Night Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.The Best Compound Bows for 2020 Bows

The Best Compound Bows for 2020

Jace Bauserman - August 24, 2020

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.

See More Trending Articles

More Fishing

Fake websites pretending to sell licenses have increased as state DNRs move to online fulfillment.Beware of Internet Hunting and Fishing License Sales Scams News

Beware of Internet Hunting and Fishing License Sales Scams

Andrew McKean - September 15, 2020

Fake websites pretending to sell licenses have increased as state DNRs move to online...

The Upper Mississippi boasts an incredible fishery for panfish.Panfish Paradise: Late-Summer Bluegills, Perch and Crappies Panfish

Panfish Paradise: Late-Summer Bluegills, Perch and Crappies

Dr. Jason Halfen - September 02, 2020

The Upper Mississippi boasts an incredible fishery for panfish.

These areas can offer excellent warm-weather walleye action, but first you have to find the fish.Find and Catch Open Water Basin Walleyes Walleye

Find and Catch Open Water Basin Walleyes

Jeff Knapp - August 27, 2020

These areas can offer excellent warm-weather walleye action, but first you have to find the...

That one little thing we don't think about while on the water, it's what separates the men from the boys.Tough Fishing Lessons Learned – The Landing Part Stories

Tough Fishing Lessons Learned – The Landing Part

Jeff Johnston - September 14, 2020

That one little thing we don't think about while on the water, it's what separates the men...

See More Fishing

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now