Winter time fishing for largemouth bass can be one of the most frustrating yet rewarding experiences an angler can have. It’s a period of time most fishermen store away their gear until spring. While there are hardcore fishing enthusiasts who ice fish throughout the colder months; for those who prefer and have the benefit of open water during this season, here are the top five baits for winter bass.
Let’s begin with one of the oldest and most reliable lures ever invented. The jerkbait’s creation has been credited to Lauri Rapala with his Original Floater. Years later, he developed the Rapala Countdown Minnow, a suspending model that slowly sinks down in the water column. Using a jerk, jerk, pause motion with a slow cadence will yield some explosive strikes from weary bass. Today, there are hundreds of suspending jerkbaits with various features to choose from. I recommend trying the Bomber Long A or Strike King KVD 200/300 series jerkbaits on spinning gear with 6-10 lb. test fluorocarbon line.
The lipless crankbait is one of the most versatile lures for bass. This crankbait can be fished during any season, particularly on windy days. These work well around submerged weeds and provide a tight wobbling or fluttering action bass are drawn to this time of year. Lipless crankbaits create a variety of sounds. Some emit a high-pitched rattling or have a slow knocking thud. There are even silent ones for times when a bass has become desensitized and required something different to trigger a reaction strike. Lipless cranks can be retrieved with quick up-down motions (yo-yoing) or straight cranking it in with momentary pauses. This erratic action with trigger bass to bite. Booyah One Knockers, Strike King Red-Eye Shads and Bill Lewis Rat-L-Traps shine with tremendous results and great for locating cold, finicky bass. Fluorocarbon line from 10-17 lb. test using bait casting gear will help get the lure as far down or as shallow as you want to run it.
When bass aren’t hitting moving baits, the bottom-dragging football jig perfectly imitates a crawfish with just the right amount of action to entice lethargic bass. Crawfish are staples for providing bass the sustenance to survive when baitfish are not enough. Pairing this jig with a compact trailer and fishing it around rock or gravel is recommended. These jigs cover large amounts of water quickly and aid in detecting bottom composition. Fluorocarbon is key to providing the right sensitivity needed. You can pair a football jig with the Big Bite Baits College Craw in Tilapia or Black/Blue Flake.
This technique is under-utilized in general but especially during this time of year. Drop-shoting may be your best chance at catching that cold water lunker. Plan on using heavier weights around ¼ to 3/8 in calm water and ½ oz to maintain bottom contact when the wind is generating strong currents. Water clarity is usually clearer at this time which requires a more natural presentation and use of lighter line. Tie a two to three foot leader of 6-10 lb. test fluorocarbon and your favorite drop-shot hook using a XZone Deception Worm in Electric Shad, the Z-Man Trick ShotZ in The Deal or Z-Man Finesse ShadZ in Meat Dog.
Lastly, the most simple but effective of all plastic bait is the Ned rig. A recent addition to many a bass fisherman’s arsenal, this small stickbait on the end of a mushroom head jig will catch fish on the worst of days. This finesse technique can be fished anytime, anywhere. Using the lightest weighted tungsten jig head as conditions permit will detect the slightest of bites. Try the Z-Man Finesse TRD TicklerZ in Green Pumpkin on a matching Z-Man Ned Jigging head or the Strike King Ned Ocho in Watermelon Red.
There you have five baits you can use all winter for bass. All of the suggested lures have been included in previous MONSTERBASS subscription boxes. These simple but highly effective baits will put fish in your hands and may be your new personal best. Good luck and tight lines!
Written by: Carrie Cates
Carrie started fishing while in the military. I compete in bass tournaments in NY, NJ and CT. I volunteer teaching kids how to fish in derbies and Boy Scouts. I plan to work my way to the elites and win the Bassmaster Classic or the MLF.
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