If you are lucky enough to still have soft water nearby, then you know winter fishing can be tough. However, you can bet that there are still fish to be caught! When the water drops into the 40s, try fishing vertical cover such as rocky bluff walls and manmade seawalls.
These types of banks are perfect for winter fishing because bass tend to suspend when the water is cold. Additionally, vertical banks make it easier for bass to move up and down in the water column without expending too much precious energy.
Here are some baits and techniques that can help you heat up a cold day of fishing!
Jerkbaits allow anglers to target those suspended, neutral fish. in the late fall and winter, cold water kills off some of the less hardy shad. When those shad are dying, they dart and suspend in erratic ways. A jerkbait, such as the Yo Zuri Sashimi Jerkbait, perfectly mimics these injured or dying baitfish.
Many anglers focus on windy points when fishing jerkbaits, however this presentation is also effective when fishing parallel to bluff walls or other vertical cover. One of the keys to fishing a jerkbait is to make sure to twitch the bait on a slack line to maximize the bait’s natural erratic action. Many strikes will come when the bait is not moving at all, so experiment with different cadences. Sometimes a pause of up to 15 seconds or even longer is required to entice a lethargic bass to strike! The Yo Zuri Sashimi Jerkbait, with its unique color-change technology, is especially effective when sitting still.
A slow-falling finesse jig can be the ticket to winter bass on vertical cover! Many bluff walls and seawalls have different shelves and levels just below the surface. Try casting a finesse jig, like the Buckeye Flat Top Finesse Jig or the Big Strike Finesse Jig, perpendicular to or at a 45 degree angle at the bank. Allow your jig to fall on a slack line so that it looks more natural and make sure to watch your line as the jig falls. Winter bass rarely jerk the rod out of your hand when they bite and sometimes the only indication of a bite is a small twitch in your line. The Buckeye Flat Top Finesse Jig, with its specially-designed head, is perfect for stair-stepping down bluff walls and other vertical cover. The Big Strike Finesse Jig from Jewell Baits is another great option when you want a slow-falling jig. Try experimenting with larger, bulkier jig trailers, increasing the water resistance and thereby making the jig fall slower.
Whether aggressive, finicky, or downright neutral, you would be hard-pressed to find a bass that will not eat a finesse-style worm when it crosses in front of its face. Whether fished on a shaky head or a dropshot, a finesse worm is an awesome way to cover the various depth changes on a vertical bank like a rock bluff wall or a seawall. The Gambler Webo, measuring in at just 5”, is smaller than other similarly-styled trick worms. To increase sensitivity and detect those subtle winter bites, you can use 10 pound braid main line on your finesse spinning rod and reel combo. Use a fluorocarbon leader and connect it to your main braided line with a Modified Albright or Uni-to-Uni Knot!
Though the weather outside may be rightful, the fishing can be delightful! Bundle up and look for vertical cover the next time you are out on the water!