Cold-weather bass

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

Now's a great time to go fishing if you pick a good venue, choose the right day, dress properly and fish the right areas with the right baits.

If possible, pick a lake with spots, smallmouth and largemouth. One of them will almost always be active. If you only have one species to target — usually largemouth — go fishing anyway. They'll bite.

Picking the right day isn't tough. It'll be foggy, misty, drizzling and cold with little or no wind. Unusually warm days attract fishermen, but they don't do much for the fish. And the wind makes it tough to stay warm.

Staying warm starts with a good pair of long underwear. After that it's waterproof outerwear, a pair of good boots, a warm face mask and hat along with a pair of high-quality gloves. (Under Armour makes a lot of first-class cold weather clothing, as does Bass Pro. You can get everything you need at your local Bass Pro Shop or from their Web site.)

Once you're on the water, it's time to catch some bass. I start near long, main lake points or maybe where a bluff meets a flat of some sort or another. You'll be looking for two basic patterns — bass that have moved shallow to feed or bass that have moved vertically in the water column to suspend.

Baitfish are the key. I carefully look over the area with my Humminbird side-imaging electronics. If the baitfish balls are up somewhat shallow I'll throw a Strike King Wild Shiner hard jerkbait in Sexy Shad. You can jerk it fast, but it's important that your pauses be fairly long. Anywhere between 1 and 3 seconds is about right.

If the baitfish balls are deeper, try swimming a smoke-colored grub on a simple jighead (shaky head). Fish it parallel to any breaks or to the channel edge, making sure it stays fairly deep all the way back to the boat.

When baitfish are scarce, try tossing a Strike King Pro-Model Series 5 crankbait in green or brown crawfish. (At this time of the year bass are either feeding on shad or crayfish. This is the crayfish option.) Fish it parallel to any underwater breaks, structure or channel swings you can find, making sure it maintains contact with the bottom as long as possible.

Any of the places you fish at this time of the year will produce better if they have some rock or wood on them. A combination of the two is the best of all possible scenarios.

Don't let the cold weather keep you off the water. There's still plenty of fish left to catch this year. Remember, it's all about the attitude.

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