January is one of those months where smaller numbers of people get out to fish, making it one of my favorite months. Admittedly, it can be challenging if adverse weather conditions result in suddenly cold or muddy water.
Assuming you don’t have those conditions, one of the best wintertime baits is an Alabama rig. The Alabama rig is basically a saltwater umbrella rig that has been adapted for bass fishing. This rig imitates a school of shad, and for the most part, bass in reservoirs across the country are eating shad.
What makes this particular type of bait superior is its ability to attract suspended fish. Many fish in the winter season suspend themselves in the water column. In years past, the suspending jerkbait got all the press. The Alabama rig is a bit faster, yet extremely effective and will find fish more quickly.
My standard rig is a 5-wire, 5-hook set up, but you must check local regulations as some states have rules regarding number of hooks on the rig.
My go-to bait is the 3.5 inch Riptide Mullet designed for saltwater. It has a subtle swimming action that is especially effective when five Mullets are put together on an Alabama rig. Aside from that, the bait is sturdy, does not tear easily, and the tails rarely foul on a hook point. You will find on thin-tailed swimbaits and soft baits that you are continually having to fix fouled lures. The Riptide Mullet is so tough in fact, often the only time I have to re-rig is if the whole rig gets hung up and breaks off.
Some of the best locations to try are bridges, deep docks, standing timber and creek channel bends. These are typically places winter fish hang out – almost always near deep water.
Fish on a long, heavy rod with at least 20-lb. line. You will be in for some fun wintertime action.
Available in 3-, 4- and 5-inch sizes — the Mullet features a finely detailed soft-plastic body with lifelike scales and fins. The bait’s ultra-kicking, vibrating tail and perfectly balanced body provide the premium live bait imitation.
A fully rigged 5 wire umbrella rig is a heavy cast, use a rod & reel combo that is up to the task — a 7 ½ to 8 feet long, heavy or extra heavy action rod, with a heavy-duty baitcaster in a low gear ratio (5.4:1).