A common question I get from anglers at seminars this time of year is whether power fishing works during cold-water periods of the winter. The answer is yes, in some situations. When the fish are within a depth zone in which my power ta
ctics are applicable, they're my first option. If I can reach those bass with a crankbait, jerkbait or slow rolled spinnerbait, I know I can get some to bite. Bass don't always spend winter in deep water. They move shallower than most people realize, and when they do, they can be caught on horizontally presented lures. That doesn't mean I won't use finesse baits this time of y
ear. I use them now more than ever, but if I want to cover water, say in 10 feet or less, it's hard to beat power baits. As the water gets colder, I prefer flat-sided or lipless crankbaits to search for bass. I may ultimately catch more fish on finesse lures, but the power baits helped me find them.
The bass won't chase a lure very far, but they will react to a moving bait when presented nearby. Now, I don't wind the baits fast, but I do work them faster than I would if I were fishing a jig over a ledge. I'll fish Strike King's Red Eye Shad, a lipless lure, with a pull-and-pause retrieve to make sure the bait falls near the bottom. It's also important to be precise with your presentations.
For example, instead of casting toward shore, I'm going to make parallel casts along the structure. I'm very methodical, making multiple casts to an area where I believe the fish are holding, and fish parallel so my lure stays longer at the depth the fish are using. Bass tend to prefer structure that has a vertical edge to it so that they can move up and down as conditions change. That's where the bulk of the forage is going to be and the bass need them to survive the winter.
Fish tend to avoid expansive flats unless there is a warming trend during which they may move onto the gravel points on the main lake. Rocky banks are ideal places to look. Riprap, such as that found around deeper shorelines or bridges, is one of my favorite places to fish this time of year.
Those rocks hold a lot of crawfish and that's primary winter forage. It's important to know which forage the fish are targeting. If your electronics indicate big pods of shad in an area, I'll work a suspending jerkbait or slow roll a spinnerbait through there. If I don't see baitfish, I will cast a crankbait that roots around the bottom.
The next time you fish this winter, give power fishing a chance. If you adapt your presentations to the conditions, you'll cover more water and be surprised how many fish you can catch.