Adjusting to a winter bite, Part 1

About the author

Chris Lane

Chris Lane

Chris Lane is a six-time winner on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail and the 2012 Bassmaster Classic champion.

This is a good time of the year to talk about taking advantage of a winter bite. I’m originally from Florida and now call Alabama home so it might come as a surprise to some of you to see me writing about winter fishing. Let’s face it: I’m not the guy who has a lot of experience sweeping snow out of his boat or having things freeze while he’s out of the water.  

But here’s the thing about that: Sometimes you can see the forest better if you haven’t grown up in the trees. It gives you a different perspective. You have no choice. You see new things because they’re new to you. You don’t look through them. There’s no such thing as history or experience.

We’re going to talk mostly about technique, and about finding them after we’ve found them. We’ll talk about starting fresh another day.

The reason I’m doing these two columns is because of my experience last year at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. You will recall I didn’t catch a bass on the first day. It was mind numbing, especially considering the fact that I had a pretty good practice. I honestly expected to catch fish and make a nice showing.

On one level, my problem was simple; I fished too fast. What caused me to do that is more complicated, however. Some of it was adrenalin and the excitement of fishing as the reigning Classic champion. But, on a deeper level, I didn’t truly understand what was going on with the bass, and I didn’t make the necessary adjustments.

One of the lessons I learned is that winter bass change from one day to the next, even if they’re holding in the same general places. I had a productive practice in the sense that I located fish and was able to make them bite. When the tournament started, though, they changed. They wanted it slower.

The problem was I kept fishing fast. As the day went along and I didn’t have any fish in my livewell, it got worse. I didn’t recognize what was happening until the second day.

Of course, by then it was too late to make any kind of showing. I never give in and I never quit. I’m a positive man who’ll fish to the last cast. I’ve also competed in several tournaments. I know when I’m in trouble and when it’s going to take a miracle to pull things out.

I’m certain about the slower bait idea because that’s the way I fished on the second day. My mental framework had changed. I just wanted to catch some bass so I could walk across the stage and weigh in something. I wasn’t in a hurry and I had no reason to rush through things.

And here’s another thing about that. I fished mostly the same areas — with some modifications we’ll talk about next week — and used exactly the same baits, a Luck “E” Strike jerkbait and an orange Luck “E” Strike crankbait.

Chris Lane’s column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website, www.chrislanefishing.com.

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