Adjusting to a winter bite, Part 2

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.

As I recall, when I stopped writing last Tuesday, we were talking about slowing down and fishing with the same Luck “E” Strike baits on the second day. That was the core of how things were. There’s no doubt in my mind that was the biggest thing I changed. But I also did something else different that helped a bunch. I expanded by areas.

It was bitter cold both days, at least as far as I was concerned. It didn’t seem like there was much of a reason for the bass to move or go anywhere else. I really didn’t see any significant changes in the lake. Nevertheless, I discovered something interesting. The fish did move, just not very far.

I expanded some of my spots by about 100 yards overall. That’s not much in a lake as big as Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees but it seemed like it helped me put fish in the boat. My observation is that with relatively stable weather conditions winter bass will still move from day to day. If I fish in those conditions again, I’ll make sure I keep that lesson in mind.

I have no idea why they do that but I suspect it has something to do with their feeding cycles or the forage. It’s cold and they’re lethargic but they still have to eat. In February, in that cold, nothing else makes any sense to me.

The biggest thing I learned, though, was about myself as an angler. I have to keep my emotions under control. It didn’t matter to the fish that I was the 2012 Bassmaster Classic champion. They could have cared less. All that mattered to them was how fast my baits were moving.

I played into that on the second day and ended up with a sack that weighed over 18 pounds. My first bass was in the livewell early and she weighed about 5 pounds. In short order, I had two more 4-pound beauties with her.

When I tried to force the fish to do it my way, instead of my doing it their way, I blanked. The problem was my presentation, not my lure and certainly not where I was fishing.  

As I look back on things, I have to say that for a guy who lives in a neighborhood where we worry more about sunburn than frostbite it was a real eye opener. Bass might be bass, but cold water bass don’t act like warm water bass.

That may sound obvious, but it’s something I needed to learn in the real world. It was important that I see it for myself. It’s one thing to know that in your head. It’s another to experience it on the water. The water lesson stays with you longer.

I just wish I hadn’t learned it the hard way. I hope someone out there can learn a little something from my mistakes and from my successes in Oklahoma. If so, it’ll make your winter bassing one heck of a lot more productive.

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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