Unless you're fortunate enough to live in a particularly temperate climate, when late fall rolls around on the calendar you're most likely either deer hunting or sitting by the fire awaiting the spring thaw.
Only the most hardened of fanatics will brave the cold chill of December in pursuit of some late-season bass fishing. To Elite Series pro Jeff Kriet, those who opt to stay at home are missing out on some of the year's best fishing. "One of the biggest misconceptions most people have is that when it's cold outside you can't catch them," he opines.
"I'm here to tell you that you can not only catch them, but you can load the boat. "This time of the year, bass tend to be really balled up. You can fish long periods of time without a single bite, but when you find them you're liable to catch a limit off a single piece of structure." Kriet explains that the secret to cold weather bass fishing is modifying your presentation ... and the willingness to brave the elements.
"The secret is in a super-slow presentation," he says. "The other secret is in finding somewhere where you don't have to battle a 50-mph north wind." The Oklahoma pro reveals that for him cold weather fishing starts when the water is less than 40 degrees. His approach revolves around four primary baits: a shaky head, drop shot, suspending jerkbait, and Shad Rap crankbait.
"I feel like I can go to any lake in the country in really cold conditions and catch them," he says. "I really feel like these are the ideal baits during this time of the year, but again, it's critical to slow down." As an example, when fishing with a Shad Rap or a jerkbait, your goal should be to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible.
To achieve this goal, Kriet makes a long cast, cranks the bait down a few turns of the handle and then either lets the bait sit suspended or creeps it back slowly along creek channels or ledges. "The best way to catch a big fish this time of the year is on the jerkbait," he reveals. "But you can't throw it out and twitch it all the way back. It has to be moved as slow as you can stand it.
I mean you really have let it soak for as long as possible for it to be really effective." As for the drop shot and the shaky head, Kriet explains that they are ideal for either a vertical presentation or a slow drag. "When the bite is really slow, I'll pull out that shaky head and drag it around real slow," he says. "If a vertical presentation is required, I have the drop shot rigged and ready. In both cases, just like with the hard plastic baits, you have to be super-slow."
When picking an area to fish, Kriet prefers areas that will generally have warmer water temperatures and offer deep water nearby, such as bluff ends and channel swings. "I'm not saying that this time of the year you have to be fishing super deep, but you definitely want to have some depth nearby," he says. "I'll also look for areas that have big chunk rock or sand because both hold a lot of heat." While Kriet contends that wintertime bass fishing can be spectacular, he'd be perfectly happy if everyone else stayed inside or on a tree stand.
"I really, really like to fish this time of the year because there's not a lot of people on the lake and you can definitely catch a ton of fish," he says. "As long as you're dressed properly and put yourself in high-percentage areas and slow way, way down, you can catch a mess of bass."
(Provided by Z3 Media)