Elite Series pro Matt Reed is best known as an east Texas power fisherman, given his roots around the big waters of Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn. However, he has proved over his career that he's one of the most versatile anglers in the sport today.
With his fishing roots planted deeply in power techniques, some may be surprised to learn that during the winter months, Reed's preferred technique is the Carolina rig. He cautions anglers not to restrict the Carolina rig to spring and summer, as some of the best action begins once December rolls around. "The Carolina rig is a great way to cover water any time of the year but especially in the winter months," he says. "You've got a big weight that gets the bait down, but then you have a subtle bait that bass will be a little more keen to this time of the year."
The versatility of the Carolina rig is another reason the technique appeals to Reed. "I like to downsize my soft plastic to a finesse worm instead of a big creature bait during the winter," he explains. "This time of year, bass won't be as reactive to a big, bulky bait with the water as cool as it is. They prefer something a little more subtle." Areas that Reed likes to target during the winter months are generally the same ones he targets during the prespawn.
"In December, you're not going to be too far from the areas you'll be fishing in March," he explains. "As the prespawn gets closer, bass will begin to move back in creeks toward spawning flats. However, Reed points out that a key difference between winter and early spring lies in the slope of the banks. "In the winter, you want to be closer to the vertical structure that's leading into these creek channels and tributaries where bass will migrate to spawn," he says.
"The vertical structure allows bass to move up and down the structure without getting too far away from their comfort zone, which is key when the water is cold." Reed believes that an angler can have success rigging in the winter months if they're willing to brave the elements and understand the travel patterns wintering bass use. "I guarantee that if an angler is willing to get out when it's cold and throw a Carolina rig in the right areas, he'll be amazed," he says. "It's really the perfect way to fish this time of the year because you can totally control the size, speed, movement and depth of the bait.
You just have to understand where the bass will be holding and how they respond to the changes in water temperature." The success Reed has had fishing a Carolina rig in his east Texas haunts gives him the confidence to throw the offering in lakes across the country. "I love to set up on that second major break where the water drops from 15 to 30 feet at a fairly steep drop.
During the winter months, bass will position on the drop before migrating to the backs of pockets and creeks as the water warms," says Reed.
(Provided by Z3 Media)