With the water temperatures getting colder and the bass getting lethargic it might seem like going finesse in the winter is obvious. It is to some, not so much to others. I’m in the first group.
Here’s my game plan:
First off, let’s wrap our heads around where the bass are going to be found in the winter. If you’re fishing a river with current in it, they’ll be in the deepest places where there is no current. If you’re fishing a reservoir, they’ll be on or close to the main lake or creek channel. In a natural lake they’ll often go to the deepest and steepest banks in the lake.
Once you know where to look for the bass it’s time to start thinking about how to catch them. I’m going to give you my four choices of lures — two reaction baits and two slower baits. They aren’t the only ones that’ll work, but they are the ones that have produced consistently for me over the years.
The Silver Buddy comes first in the reaction bait category. It’s a simple blade bait that was designed by Buddy Banks and Billy Westmoreland for winter fishing on Dale Hollow Lake.
The most effective way to fish it is to make long casts and snap the bait up a foot or so off the bottom before you let it fall back down on a semi-slack line. Most of your bites will come on the fall. The vibration of the blade bait makes them react, and the falling bait looks like a dying shad.
I fish Silver Buddy’s on a Cashion Drop Shot Rod, a Daiwa Ballistic LT 3000 reel, 12-pound-test Sunline X-Plasma Asegai braid and an 8-pound-test Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon leader that’s between 15 and 20 feet long.
My second offering is usually a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce spoon fished vertically. I fish a spoon like a Silver Buddy. The basic difference is that with a spoon you can get it directly over the fish you believe are down there. I say believe because sometimes they’re sitting with their bellies right on the bottom. Sometimes you can’t see them even with Lowrance electronics.
I fish my spoons on a Cashion 7 foot, medium heavy casting rod, a Daiwa Tatula 100 reel with a 7.3:1 gear ratio and 12-pound-test Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon.
My slower bait selections start with a Missile Jigs Ike’s Micro Jig. I let it drop down to the bottom and then drag it along real slow. Think about the fact that nothing in cold water moves very fast. Your jig shouldn’t either. This jig is special because the skirt slowly flairs and moves like no other bait when it’s worked slowly.
I like to fish my Micro Jig on a Cashion Micro Jig Rod with a Daiwa Ballistic LT 3000 reel spooled with 12-pound-test Sunline Xplasma Asegai braid and a 15 to 20 foot, 8-pound-test Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon leader.
I also fish a Damiki rig in the winter. It starts with a Damiki 3-inch Armor Shad jerkbait rigged on a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce jig head. It’s best fished vertically. All I do is drop it down and hold it real steady a few feet off the bottom. Most winter bass are feeding up. If they’re in the area, they’ll come to it. It can be a really cool way to catch them because you often see the bass come up to the bait on your electronics before they even bite it.
I fish the Damiki rig on a 7 foot, 6 inch Cashion Spin Bait Rod. My reel is a Daiwa Ballistic LT 3000 reel spooled with 12-pound-test Sunline X-Plasma Asegai braid and a 15 or 20 foot 8-pound-test Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon leader.
Go armed with these four baits this winter and you’ll be in good shape. I know it’s cold, but if you catch a couple of good ones you’ll warm right up.