Crawfish are a mainstay when it comes to bass forage across much of the fishing world in the winter. These little lobster-looking crustaceans crawl around the bottoms of lakes, creeks and rivers, offering themselves up as easy to catch meals for the lethargic bass that roam the cold waters.
Thus baits like jigs, crankbaits and certain other lures that closely mimic real crawfish are extremely effective in colder months. Here are some of the reasons these baits work so well in the winter.
Why bass eat crawfish in the winter -
Though crawfish are around and plentiful throughout much of the year, and though bass will feed on them in other seasons as well, bass tend to chase after the nutrient-dense shad, herring and bluegill when the water is warmer.
When the water is warm and they’re feeling good, bass are agile and excellent open-water hunters. But when the water is colder, the bass look for a hearty meal that requires less energy to chase down, even if it takes a little longer to digest. This is when crawfish become the delicacy of choice for bass.
Why use crawfish imitators in the winter -
Obviously, if the bass are keying in on a certain type of bait, the same old adage of ‘match the hatch’ comes into play. It makes perfect sense to pick the bait that best mimics the forage the bass are feeding on. So tying a crawfish-style lure on is a no-brainer here.
But current is another reason that crawfish imitations work so well in the winter. Heavy winter rains lead to strong currents in rivers, creeks and streams. Whether fishing up these tributaries or closer to the mouths of them where they dump into lakes, this current is the angler’s friend. It positions bass behind current breaks like rocks, logs and dock posts where crawfish, shad and other forage wash right to them.
Which baits to go with -
In these current situations, a football or ball-head jig can work exceptionally well. Casting one of these jigs out and then letting it wash along on a semi-tight line allows the bait to move along the bottom naturally and settle in right behind an eddy where the bass is waiting— mimicking the real thing not only in profile but also in its movements.
Ned rigs and finesse jigs work really well too in softer current and in completely still water. These baits can be crawled and bounced along in deeper water on rocky points and humps to mimic small crayfish.
Moving closer to the bank, jigs and Ned rigs still work well too. But you can cover more water with crawfish-colored medium-diving crankbaits like the MONSTERBASS Seeker 6, squarebills like the MONSTERBASS Hammerhead and lipless cranks like the MONSTERBASS Incision 69.
Color selection and scents -
Fishing these crankbaits in red, orange, brown and sometimes green can be the ticket, depending on the color of the crawfish and the color of the water in your area. Green pumpkin, brown and black jigs work best, with a few bright strands of chartreuse, orange, blue or purple mixed in. And you can add some brighter colors to Ned rigs and jig trailers using dyes and markers if you’d like.
Scents can also help the bass locate these slower moving jigs and soft plastic baits. Some lures, like those in Berkley’s Powerbait lineup come pre-impregnated or infused with scent in the baits themselves. There are also several companies like Spike-It that make dipping dyes with vibrant colors and scents like crawfish and garlic that are believed to attract the fish to the baits and get them to hold on longer when they do bite.
Given the abundance of crawfish in the winter and the ease of which they can be hunted down and inhaled by lethargic bass, baits that mimic this forage work really well in the colder months. Try jigs and Ned rigs in mid-range-to-deeper water and medium-diving crankbaits and squarebills in mid-range-to-shallower water. Use colors to match the hatch as much as possible and scents to help the fish track down the baits and hold on longer.
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