Winter Bassin’ with Blade Baits
The chill in the air reminds us that summer has once again given way to winter's shorter days and cooler temperatures. The rain and wind that ushers in the changing season has us reaching for the 100 mph suits and for some of us our fishing rods as we head out on the lake for some of the years very best fishing, the cold water bite. These changes in the seasons bring about a change in both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Casting to remaining grasslines, docks, and lay downs in some bodies of water may no longer be as effective as it was in the in the late summer to fall transition when bass were shallow. Winter is the time for the angler to make changes as well.
Fishing from your boat in a clear water cove may not be what you have seen on television on some of the bass fishing programs and the pro tournaments that you may have watched all year. As the water temperature begins to drop down below sixty degrees and colder anglers know to follow the schools of shad and other baitfish. However, an often-overlooked technique for catching the tight schooling bass is fishing with a lures known as “blade baits”. Blades have been popular with southern reservoir anglers since the Heddon Sonar was developed in the fifties. The James Heddon’s Sons company offered a lure for the first time “with deadly AC-DC” (Acton Control and Depth Control). Other companies soon followed with blades of similar design like the Silver Buddy, Reef Runner Cicada, and Bullet baits. Many types and variations of blades are on the market; a few are Bass Pro XPS Lazer Blade, Lucky Craft Cymbal Vibe, and many others.
The design of the blades are somewhat similar, a pair of treble hooks suspended from a stainless steel bait fish body that makes one think of a razor blade, thus the name. Most have a lead weight (or some other alloy) attached to the lower front of the blade for stability and weight. Most of these types of lures since the Sonar have three holes to for adjusting the line tie to customize the presentation, however many anglers use the center hole for the natural wobble it gives when retrieved. The design concept was originally the first hole to be for a fast retrieve, the second hole for a medium retrieve, and the third hole being for a slow retrieve. The blades can be fished similar to a lipless crankbait, or vertically jigged, which is an effective smallmouth presentation any time the bass are holding deep.
The baitfish migration started in the river section or creek system of a reservoir. In a natural lake, look for feeder creeks concentrating on the current as you search for the bait. The autumn winds and fluctuating temperatures and periods of sun will have moved the plankton around in the water; the bait will follow this protein rich food source as they try to store fat for winter. Meanwhile, the bass will be feeding on the small baitfish ingesting as much protein as they can in preparation for the long cold winter. Sending long cast beyond and then through the school of bait will often land big bass. One trick is to count the blade down one-one thousand, two-one thousand to a dept of about twelve to fifteen feet. After the blade has reached the desired depth, reel the blade in and then jerk the blade and allow it to fall again to fifteen or twenty feet. This will give the illusion of an injured baitfish, and to the bass this cannot be resisted.
YoureHumminbird and Lakemaster chip makes locating the schools of bait much easier, but they can also be located by carefully watching the signs of nature such as birds and signs in the water of bait busting through the surface as bass feed through the tight schools. The bass at this time of year do not relate to structure and cover as much as the rest of the year, they follow the bait.
Fishing blade baits will give you an advantage this winter. Blade baits are great classic cold water lures that has proven itself time and time again for winter bass fishing. Heat up the fishing this winter with a blade.