Lure selection becomes a much easier task when fishing for wintertime bass. The cold water causes bass to move down the water column to warmer levels so you can eliminate topwater lures from your selection. The cold also slows down a bass’ metabolism so fast-moving baits can be tossed out too.
The key to catching wintertime bass then is to think slow and select lures that you can retrieve at a snail’s pace if necessary. Here are seven bass lures you can rely on all winter to catch bass.
1) Suspending Jerkbaits
This is my favorite lure for wintertime bass that suspend over deep holes because it can stay a long time in the strike zone of suspended fish. I can also vary the lure’s retrieve depending on the mood of the fish. On some days bass will want a presentation of two to three jerks followed by a pause of two to three seconds and other days they prefer two jerks followed by a 20- to 30-count pause. The lures are also equipped with bills of various lengths which allow me to fish different depths in case the fish move up or down the water column throughout the winter.
2) Alabama Rigs
An umbrella rig adorned with a multitude of swimbaits imitates a school of baitfish that wintertime bass can’t resist. The versatile rig can be fished through the middle of the water column with a medium-speed retrieve and swimbaits with lighter weight jigheads to tempt suspended bass or you can fish it slow and deep with heavier jigheads to catch bass near the bottom. You can also use swimbaits of various lengths on the rig to match the size of the baitfish bass are feeding on throughout the winter.
A jig is the ultimate lure for wintertime bass fishing because it will catch fish at any depth in any weather and water conditions. On sunny days you can fish it in shallow murky water where bass seek the water warmed by the sunshine. You can also fish it deep on cloudy days in clear water to catch bass hugging the bottom. The versatility of a jig also lets you present the lure with a variety of retrieves such as hopping, crawling, or swimming the lure along the bottom.
4) Jigging Spoons
These heavy lures are ideal for dropping quickly to wintertime bass in deep clear water. You can either work jigging spoons at mid-depths for suspended bass or drop the lures to the bottom for bass near the lake floor. The mood of the fish dictates how to present the jigging spoon throughout the winter. Sometimes the fish prefer a lift-and-drop presentation with a hard jerk of the rod and other times bass want a more subtle action with a slight lift and twitch of the rod.
This heavy metal bait is also ideal for probing bass’ deep winter sanctuaries such as ledges, channel bends and points dropping off into deep water. Cast the lure towards the shallows of a steep bank and let it flutter to the bottom but keep some tension on the line because strikes from suspended bass frequently occur as the lure is falling. After the lure touches bottom, slowly swim the lure a couple of feet and then let it fall to the structure again on a semi-taut line to tempt bottom-hugging bass.
6) Drop Shot Rigs
When wintertime bass get really moody in deep water, a soft plastic bait on a drop shot rig is the best option to trigger a bite. The rig allows you to tempt finicky bass with an array of soft plastics including minnow imitators, finesse worms, Senkos and small plastic craws. You can also vary the length of your dropper line to fish the bait closer or farther from the bottom and use different drop shot weights depending on the depth of the fish. The best retrieve for this finesse tactic is to lightly shake the lure on a semi-taut line to coax sluggish bass into biting.
The flash and vibration of this blade bait makes it the premier lure for wintertime bass fishing in cold, murky water. The key to success with this lure is to reel it at a speed to where you can feel the vibration of the blades but keep it slow enough so the lure is ticking the rocky bottom. A heavyweight spinnerbait in the 3/4- or 1-ounce size with a single large Colorado blade is the best choice for slow-rolling along the bottom in shallower murky water or deeper clear water.
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