MONSTERBASS Ambassador Tim Bertone hails from Hamilton, New Jersey, where the temperatures are dropping rapidly. But the fishing is still white hot, for the moment at least.
“It’s getting cold up here now,” said Bertone. “It’s not iced over yet. Because the weather has been inconsistent, you don’t know when it’s going to happen.”
“We’re getting 30's, 40's sometimes high 20's at night. Like mid-December it may freeze over. But right now, it’s not frozen over and the fish are biting.”
Bertone fishes just about any way he can, which includes from a kayak, his Nitro bass boat, a Jon boat as well as fishing from the bank regularly.
To make the most of the last few weeks of open water, he has a two-bait approach that’s getting the job done.
“The jig bite is really good, and the blade bait. Those two baits are my go tos this time of year. Even if the water has a little bit of ice on it, I’ll find patches with a Damiki blade bait and it seems like I’ll always pull a bass out.”
While his jig is fished on bottom, he likes to keep the blade bait up higher in the water column, using it to target suspended fish.
“I yo-yo it. So I’ll reel it in, pull the rod up and let it fall. Then reel it in, pull the rod up, and let it fall. And they always bite it on the fall.”
With the water temps currently in the high 40s to low 50s, this moving bait bite is still hanging on. But the slower moving jig is a big producer as well.
“I use a 3/8- ounce football jig mostly, but I use a 1/4- ounce finesse jig sometimes too when the football is not getting hit.”
Bertone trails the finesse jig with a twin tail grub but prefers a larger craw for the football jig trailer.
“I either use an X-Zone Lures Muscle Back Craw, or I use the Strike King Rage Chunk. That’s actually turned out to be my favorite. And they’ve got perfect colors that match really good with what I throw.”
Bertone’s jig of choice this time of year typically has a color scheme consisting of brown, purple and green pumpkin. And he really dials the jigs in by building them himself.
“I order a bunch of jigheads and I’ve got a bunch of skirts and I just put them together in my own colors. It’s the easy way to do it. And it’s cool when you can mix and match what you want to do.”
When deciding which jigs to go with, the cover and conditions often dictate his selection.
“I fish a lot of weedy spots, with that funky grass on the bottom right now. And it’s kind of a pain with the football jig because it gets stuck and gunked up in it. So, then I switch to the finesse jig so I can pop it off the bottom and it doesn’t get stuck.”
Using this two-bait approach, Bertone is able to slip a few more bass out from under the impending ice. Cabin fever will creep in soon, for many of us across the country. In the meantime, take Bertone’s advice and get out there and get as many in as you can until then.
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