We get some cold weather where I live in southwestern North Carolina, but I’m still able to fish all the way through the winter. I don’t catch as many bass as I do in warmer seasons, but my odds for landing a true heavyweight are excellent. Winter is one of the best times to catch your biggest fish of the year.
Die-hard anglers who cast through the winter tend to pick calm, sunny days, which make for more comfortable fishing conditions. Unfortunately, those aren’t necessarily the best days to catch bass. That’s especially true if you’re out there under a high, bluebird sky after a front passes through.
Call me crazy, but I catch a lot more bass in late fall and winter on brutal weather days when the wind is blowing and there’s rain or even snow.
Snow wasn’t in the forecast on the December day I fished a club tournament on Lake Norman several years ago. Mother Nature had other ideas. The sky was overcast, the barometric pressure was low and big, wet snowflakes fell for three to four hours in the middle of the day. It looked like somebody had shaken up a snow globe over Lake Norman.
As the snow was falling I had one of the best jerkbait bites I have ever been on. I caught 30 to 40 bass by working my jerkbait over points and parallel to docks. Those bass were going crazy. And, not just for me or where I was fishing. Everybody in the club slammed them during that snowstorm.
Since then I prefer to go fishing in late fall and winter when a front pushes in rain, wind, snow, whatever. I don’t know what it is. I just feel like the bass and the baitfish are more active and moving around under crazy conditions like that.
You want to be fishing where there’s a huge concentration of shad. Depending on the lake, the water temperature and the time of year, the baitfish could be anywhere from the backs of creeks to the channels on the main lake.
When I’m fishing in nasty weather, I go with moving style reaction baits. If I’ve got a good windy day, I’m going to fish the banks where the waves are crashing into it. I do well with a TrueSouth Custom Lures spinnerbait and a Provoke 106X jerkbait from 6th Sense. An Alabama rig is another fantastic option.
The Alabama rig was the deal several years ago when I fished a big bass tournament with my dad the day after Thanksgiving. It was a drizzly, rainy fall day, and we caught plenty of fish. My dad caught the big bass of the tournament, a 6 1/2-pounder.
The weather may be miserable, but you can fish in relative comfort thanks to the fantastic foul weather apparel available these days. I’m big on the Taku waterproof jacket and Taku bib pants from Mustang Survival. They are rugged, lightweight, waterproof and breathable. I usually wear a hoodie under the parka.
An insulated, waterproof hunting boot will keep your toes toasty. A lot of fishermen wear gloves in cold weather, but I just can’t fish effectively with gloves. I can get by without gloves as long as I’m fishing moving baits. I can’t say that would be true if I were fishing something like a drop shot.
Of course, you need to take safety precautions when fishing in cold weather. If conditions are truly treacherous, don’t go. Wear a life vest, bring spare, dry clothing and go with a friend. Be safe, dress right and you just might catch your biggest bass of the year during the holidays.