12 Tips for Catching Coldwater Largemouth Bass

12 Tips for Catching Coldwater Largemouth Bass
12 Tips for Catching Coldwater Largemouth Bass

Fishing for winter largemouths can be beautifully simple, yet many bass anglers take this simplicity a step too far

Oneor two proven tactics command most of bass anglers’ fishing time, and if thesedon’t produce ... well, there’s always next time.

Factis, you can greatly improve your coldwater bassin’ success by trying a few newconcepts and techniques. Stick to traditional approaches when they’re producinghawgs. But when “regular” tactics don’twork, the following tricks can make your catch rate soar.

Slayed With a Blade

Many anglersoverlook old-fashioned bladebaits when putting together their winter angling arsenal.Favorites that have been around for years include the Heddon Sonar, Cordell GayBlade and Reef Runner Cicada. These compact lures sink quickly and maintaindepth when worked yo-yo fashion around deep structure and cover.

An upward rod sweeplifts the bait, causing a fish-attracting vibration. As the rod is lowered, thelure begins a spiral fall that triggers an instinctive attack from bass.


To eliminate linetwist, snip the line eight inches above the lure and tie a barrel swivel toboth cut ends.


Try Shad

In winter, shad area deadly live bait for big largemouths. Catch them using a cast net in the calmbackwaters of coves. Keep those 4 inches long or less. Fish them like minnows,but hook them through the nostrils to let the baitfish swim more naturally andremain lively longer.


Pier Pressure

Winter bank fishingcan be unproductive because bass move to offshore cover. But when nasty weatherkeeps you shorebound, try fishing at the end of a public fishing pier. Whensuch a structure is built, a deeper hole usually is created near the outsideend, and frequently, brushpiles are added to attract bass and other fish. Lastyear, on an Arkansas lake, I watched a pair of pier fishermen catch 20largemouths in two hours by fishing such a place.

Farm ‘em Out

Farm ponds alsoprovide possibilities for shore anglers. First, be sure first the pond containsbass; some don’t. If it does, and the owner grants permission to fish, you’rein business. Head to the levee that impounds the water. Bass frequently aretaken by casting to woody cover here. My favorite lure in this situation is ajig-and-pig or jig-and-eel, but carry of a variety of lures, and keep changinguntil you determine what is most productive.

Heavy Metal

Onsunny days in clear waters, use sonar to pinpoint bass suspended deep nearbottom channels. When you find a school, work it with jigging spoonsfree-spooled to fish below.


Jigthe lure by raising the rod tip with an upward flick of the wrist then quicklylowering the rod so the spoon falls on slack line. Bass usually strike as thelure drops. The line twitches or stops, so strikes usually are seen rather thanfelt. Watch your line closely.

Stumped

Onwarm days, especially toward the end of the season, you may find bass in stump fieldson deep flats near the edge of major stream channels. These fish tend to fanout over large areas, but by fan-casting lures from an anchored boat, you oftencan catch loads of largemouths. When you catch one fish, cast immediately tothe same spot, repeating your casts until you no longer catch fish.

Head for the Headwaters

Onlakes with no power plants, headwaters areas tend to produce the best winterfishing. The headwaters area is the upper end, usually opposite the dam, wherethe major stream or streams feeding the lake flow into it. Bass move toheadwaters in late winter because this is where the water first begins to warm.Creeks and small streams above the lake warm first, because they are shallowand fed by the first warming rains. These in turn feed larger streams flowinginto the lake, and they, too, warm up before the deeper main lake.


Rememberthis when planning a fishing trip this time of year. Headwaters usuallyoutproduce other portions of a lake.

Going to Carolina

Some winter bassanglers use small lipless crankbaits on Carolina rigs. This is especiallyeffective in late winter when fishing flats in the headwaters portion of alake. If you use a floating lure, a 1/4-ounce sinker and a 24-inch leader, you’llhave good line control.

Work this rig slowlynear cover, with periodic twitches that impart action. The crankbait floatsjust above the bottom, and each jerk makes the lure dive and swim erratically,attracting hungry bass.

Dingy Water and Spinners

Ifyou’re fishing near a headwaters stream that is dingy from runoff, considerusing a spinnerbait. Winter largemouths may move fairly shallow to feed whenwater is heavily colored, and a spinnerbait is hard to beat for catching themunder this condition.

Workthe lure around stump fields, log jams and buckbrush on flats adjacent theriver arms. Fishing around the mouths of small creeks also produces. If waterentering the lake is clearer than the rest of the water, bass often will holdat the “mudline,” the margin of clear and dingy water. Work these areas slowlyand thoroughly, and get ready for some spectacular headwaters bass fishing.

Naked Minnows

If you sometimes fish live minnows for bass, try fishing “naked.” Doaway with your float and fish the outer edges of winter cover. Without anyweight except that of the hook and a small split shot, a minnow sinks veryslowly, twisting and darting as it does.

Bass aren’t the only predators thatfind such baits irresistible, so don’t do this if catching a bonus crappie,walleye or catfish now and then is going to bother you. If such an occurrencewon’t get you mad, then watch your line very closely as the bait sinks, lookingfor any slight movement indicating a hit. When regular live bait tactics fail,this one can save the day.

Use a GPS

GPSunits are more affordable than ever, with some priced less than $100. Thesehigh-tech marvels translate satellite signals into data an angler can navigateby to return day after day to first-rate winter fishing areas like brushpiles,open-water drop-offs, etc.

Don’twaste time triangulating with landmarks or watching a depthfinder to find yourfavorite winter fishing holes. Learn to use a GPS and you can be fishinginstead of looking.

Fish Fast

Ifyou’ve followed all the tips above and still aren’t catching bass, keep on themove, trying new locations until you find your quarry. A common mistake isstaying in one place too long. If bass are present and feeding, they’ll usuallylet you know right away, even when the water is frigid.

Recommended for You

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think? Bass

MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability. Bows

New TRUGLO Bowfishing EZ•Rest

May 23, 2019

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability.

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide. Coolers

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

Lure Lock Options Includes LED Light Boxes & More

Lure Lock Options Includes LED Light Boxes & More

Pro angler Jonathan VanDam showcases new offerings at ICAST 2019, including the ultra-thin, big bait boxes, LED-lighted boxes and backpack-able gear lockers. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

We all have our Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper - April 02, 2015

We all have our "swear by" bait for catfish. For me, it is chicken liver, live shad or my...

See More Stories

More Fishing

Expanding your trout-fishing repertoire will catch more fish, increase quality time on the river. Trout & Salmon

Western Trout: Make the River Deliver

Scott Haugen - September 09, 2019

Expanding your trout-fishing repertoire will catch more fish, increase quality time on the...

Muskies hunt baitfish with great aggression as temperatures cool in the fall. Make the most of this treasured time. Other Freshwater

The Baitfish Connection for Fall Muskies

Joel Nelson - October 03, 2019

Muskies hunt baitfish with great aggression as temperatures cool in the fall. Make the most of...

Try these tactics to target bass that are shifting toward fall patterns this month. Bass

Hit Tributaries With Crankbaits, Topwaters for Bass

Pete M. Anderson - September 19, 2019

Try these tactics to target bass that are shifting toward fall patterns this month.

See More Fishing

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×