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 its 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. Dont 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 its
small attention to detail like that, which will separate
you from the rest of the fishermen and you will catch more
The key to winter bass fishing is patience. Thats
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!
Charles - Contact me with your questions or comments at