Cranking and jigging for hot winter action

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Andy Crawford
Elite Series pro Matt Arey has made a career out of catching bass in transition zones. This focus works particularly well during the coldest months of the year, as these zones are narrowed as vegetation dies off.

Bass fisherman have fished them for years on different types of lakes around the country. They attract and hold largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass at all times of the year. Tournaments at every level have been won on them, including the Bassmaster Classic. Best of all, they’re especially productive during the cold winter months when bass may gang up on them in fairly shallow water.

In case you’re wondering what these seemingly magical places are, they are transition zones — places where two different types of structure or cover meet. The most easily recognized transition zones are visible along shorelines where rocks may change to gravel, or gravel to vegetation, and which continue underwater. Depth changes are transition zones, as are lone boat docks (that’s why the first dock entering a cove is often the best) and even the edges of weedlines where they meet open water.

Areas where two different types of vegetation meet, as they frequently do on Lake Okeechobee, can be considered transition zones, as can any place fast-moving water hits an object and creates an eddy of still water. On Lake Guntersville, the mussel shellbeds are excellent transition zones in that they offer a hard bottom surrounded by hydrilla and milfoil; they’re so dependable, fishermen search specifically for them, even though dozens of other fishing options are available on the famous lake.