Winter bass fishing can be boon or bust, ecstasy or ultimate frustration. Late winter is the best time of the year to catch the biggest fish in the lake. They are the biggest they will be all year and the spawning urge will put them in a feeding mood as they prepare their bodies for the stress of spawning. Here are a few winter fishing tips from our good friend and staffer, David Mullins, that will help you catch a few of these prespawn giants on your favorite body of water.
Jigs are the most versatile and productive of all lures and will work in most conditions. Depending on depth and cover 1/4oz-1/2 usually covers the needs of my winter fishing. The places to throw a jig are endless. I usually try to find steeper drops, whether on channel swing banks or off shore points to start fishing. For the most part these lure are worked slowly with the cold water but that’s not always the case. Finding the fall rate the fish want seem to be the key so adjust the jig size throughout the day. I always rig my jigs with a trailer and I try to use one that has little to no action. The Doomsday Tackle 3.2 and 3.8 reaper craws fit all sizes of jigs perfectly and are my favorite to use this time of year.
Cold water in the winter can be an awesome time to bring out the jerk baits. Much like the fall rate of the jig finding the proper cadence for working a jerk bait is not different. I usually start with a couple of jerks and a 5 second pause to start my day. If that doesn't work I will either slow down or speed up my cadence to determine what the fish want. Start with your rod tip pointed at the lure and sharply jerk with your wrist, returning the rod back to where it is pointing at the bait. This causes slack in the line that will result in the bait darting from side to side. I usually use lighter line 8-14lb test Sunline Sniperand a softer tip 6'9 Doomsday Tackle rod. As with the jig, fish channel swings and deeper sided banks and points.
Nothing imitates the shad forage better than a swimbait. In the winter I do two things to help trigger bites. First, I downsize to the 3 inch Scottsboro tackle swimbait in Mullins Maddness. Usually the forage on our lake the bass feed on are small this time of year and a 3 inch matches the baitfish perfectly. Secondly, I slow down and use a more subtle movement. The idea is to work your swimbait much like you would work a jig. Using a 3/16oz to 1/2oz jig head I pull or gently hop it along the bottom. Again, deeper areas are key so fish it as slow possible.