When the water temps start dipping below 60 degrees in the fall, the bass fishing really starts to get good. As the waters cool even more and near the 50-degree mark, the cold-blooded bass become more lethargic and less aggressive. But that doesn’t mean they stop biting.
Knowing what to throw and where to throw it, you can still trick the hefty bass that have been fattening up through the fall. Today, we’re going to look at five of those baits that catch big fish in cold water.
Ned rig -
A Ned rig is one of the simplest baits to rig and fish, but it’s also one of the most effective. There are dozens of unique soft plastic baits made specifically for fishing on a Ned head now, but the good old half a stick bait still catches them too. These rigs will catch the occasional big largemouth, but you’re more apt to catch a big spot or smallmouth with a Ned rig.
A Z-Man Finesse TRD is a great Ned rig bait for beginners and seasoned anglers alike. It may not look like a whole lot, but it simply gets bit. Try rigging one on an 1/8- ounce Ned head and fishing it along deep rocky banks or pebbly points and your sure to get bit in cold water.
Several types of jigs are prone to catch big bass in cold water. This is because crawfish are a main forage on many bass fisheries in the winter months. Flipping a jig shallow works well in stained to muddy water, and even in clearer water around cover. Skipping a jig under docks is another great way to catch big bass this time of year.
But two of the best jigs to fish in cold water are finesse jigs and football jigs. Finesse jigs work really well on lakes with lots of spots and smallmouth. You can fish these jigs in many of the same places you would a Ned rig, offering the bass a little something bigger to look at to try to draw a bigger bite. Football jigs work really well in deeper water along bluffs, especially for largemouth.
A jerkbait is one of the all time best baits for wintertime fishing. The stop-and-go action of a jerkbait as it’s twitched along draws the attention of a sluggish bass and stalls out long enough for him to catch up to it. Loaded with sticky, small treble hooks, a jerkbait also does a good job of reaching out and latching onto the bass that often swipe at a bait in the winter and don’t eat it all the way.
You can fish some of the smaller jerkbaits on spinning rods, but this technique works best on a baitcasting combo that’s 7 feet long or less. These shorter rods allow you to twitch the bait with your rod tip down, without it touching the water. The standard jerk-jerk-pause cadence is a great place to start. Use two quick twitches of the rod to move the bait forward and then allow it to sit still for a few seconds. This mimics a struggling baitfish well and is often enough to unlock the jaws of a giant.
Like with jigs, there are several crankbaits that work well for catching big bass in cold water. The most popular are likely finesse crankbaits and flat-side crankbaits. Both of these lures have subtle shimmies versus the wide wobbles of other baits. This is an action that has proven effective time and time again at triggering finicky bass into biting.
But baits with wider wobbles work in cold water too, like squarebills shallow and the famous Wiggle Warts that dive a little deeper. Wiggle Warts, and other mid-depth baits like them, have become synonymous with cold water fishing. They work exceptionally well on highland reservoirs around rock in clearer water. The squarebills can work in clearer water as well, but they tend to be more effective in the shallow, stained water around wood and other cover.
Lipless crankbait -
A lipless crankbait is another must-have lure for cold water. This is a great bait for covering lots of water in the winter, as it can be casted far and fished throughout much of the water column. If you’re fishing a shallow flat that’s less than 3 feet deep, chuck your lipless crankbait out and reel it in with your rod tip held high to keep the bait from digging into the bottom.
If the fish are further out in deeper water, you can slow roll the bait along the bottom. And perhaps the best way to fish a lipless is to yo-yo it, ripping it up higher into the water column and then allowing it to fall back towards the bottom before ripping it up again.
These are just a few of the better baits for cold water fishing. Spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs, and several other lures work well too. But if you can master one or multiples of these five, you’ll find success out on the water this winter for sure.
Want to catch bigger bass? Then take you fishing skills to the next level and get the best baits for the places you fish, delivered to your door? Hook yourself up a subscription to MONSTERBASS. We'll give you everything you need to catch your new PB the next time you hit the water. join now