Bass fishing in winter.
By: Charles Stuart

Fishing for bass during the late fall and winter months can be a daunting task.

During the regular season, you have identifiable structure to fish, vegetation is in bloom and the sun offers you shaded areas, which will produce fish during the heat of the day. Winter however does not give you any of those visible signs. So what do you do? Well once again, you must turn to your understanding of the bass and its lifestyle during these "lean months". When I use the word lean, I am referring to the food chain which can be drastically reduced by the elements. Exceptionally cold weather can kill smaller fish and aquatic life leaving the a bass only a limited diet for 3 or 4 months. You will often hear bass fishermen talking about the "big feed" prior to winter, when bass will eat anything and everything to carry them through till Spring.

Bait selection at this time is critical. A bass when in very cold water, will move only a minimal distance for food, so the bait of choice has to be something that is equal or greater than the energy expended. Compare your own lifestyle during the winter months, you store up food and fuel for the winter, to avoid unnecessary trips to the store, and you really hate clearing the driveway and brushing the snow off your vehicle if its not absolutely necessary. Right? Well it’s the same for a bass. Why should the fish dash around for small items of food, when it will not compensate for the energy required to chase it down and catch it?

Large, slow moving baits are the key. Don’t be afraid to throw a 10" or 12" worm where you once threw a 4" offering. Slowly retrieve the larger bait along the bottom, inching it slowly back to shore. Large jigs tipped with either plastic or pork trailers moved in a similar fashion to the worm will produce fish, you just have to be patient. During summer, that same bait should be in and out of the water in 30 seconds, however with the winters climactic changes, you must now leave that very same bait in the water for maybe 3 minutes! A good tip here is to keep your soft plastic baits warm. I place a few worms or crawfish imitations into a plastic bag and keep them in my pocket, this keeps the bait flexible and it will work well in frigid water temperatures. The same practice works for live bait. I will put mealworms, night crawlers or maggots into a small container and keep them in a pocket near to my body to keep them from freezing. Remember that it’s small attention to detail like that, which will separate you from the rest of the fishermen and you will catch more fish.

The key to winter bass fishing is patience. That’s not an easy thing for us New Yorkers! But give it a try.
Bring some hot coffee and plenty of food for your energy. Remember to dress in layers. Hypothermia is very nasty, a condition which from first hand experience, I do not recommend!

Tight Lines!
Charles - Contact me with your questions or comments at

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