There are several good ways to fish during the winter, but one of my favorite is old-school and somewhat of a lost art.
I’m talking about a single Colorado-bladed spinnerbait, a bait everyone knows as a good nighttime summer bait but one that is equally deadly during winter.
Most anglers prefer the tandem spinnerbait which is a valuable tool most of the time. But during the winter months, you can do more with the single Colorado to replicate the dying shad that bass are keyed on.
The slow thumping of single Colorado allows you to fish multiple depth zones and at various speeds. Of course, other lures, like jerkbaits and umbrella rigs are good, too, but the spinnerbait is my choice when the water has some color.
A good example is when you have a quick weather change, like a winter storm that brings in rain and the water goes from clear to dirty. That seems to happen a lot in highland reservoirs.
The bass often are suspended and focused on shad along vertical banks where the other lures might work better if the water was clear. But the dirtier water makes the spinnerbait a better tool.
When I know it’s right, I will have several rigged on my boat in various sizes from 3/8 to a 3/4 ounce with either sizes 4 or 4½ blades. The heavier bait tends to be my favorite, especially for fishing deeper banks.
I like shad colors like plain white or chartreuse/white that are more visible in the stained water. I prefer copper-colored blades but also like painted blades that show up well in stain, especially on cloudy days.
I also like to add a soft plastic pearl-colored Rage Tail Grub as a trailer. The tail gives extra action and vibration on the fall and the bulk of it keeps the bait from falling too fast.
I’ve also been experimenting with finesse swim baits as trailers. My favorite is a 4-inch Swimmin’ Shiner. It has good action and doesn’t hinder the fall as the bait drops.
I also will create my own single spin by modifying a tandem bladed spinnerbait, cutting the arm down to where it’s 1/3 the length. I do that because it’s difficult to find heavier single spin spinnerbaits that can handle the Colorado blade. The shorter arm allows the blade to helicopter better on the fall which helps the bass key on it.
I fish it around steeper, vertical structure, like bluff ends, bridge pilings and even standing timber. Bass use those structures to move up and down in the water column during the winter and that’s why a spinnerbait is such a good choice.
I yo-yo it back to the boat so it fishes through various depths until I determine where the bass are holding. Let it fall on a taut line so you can feel everything the bait is doing; most strikes come on the descent and they aren’t rod jarring strikes. Make sure the body falls horizontally with the trailer so that it’s a natural presentation and fish can target it.
I usually fish it on 14-pound fluorocarbon, as the smaller diameter line helps it fall better in deeper water. If fishing around heavier cover, you have to use heavier line and I’ve even gone to braid in some situations. The combination of a sensitive line and a good graphite rod allows you to feel everything the bait is doing, whether it’s bumping fish or getting into cover.
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!