A winter bass fishing day could be a tricky thing to prepare for if you don’t have a lot of experience doing so. Anglers are always challenged with how to prepare for inclement weather. They worry about warm clothing and often have that chilly feeling that flows over into insecurities about what the fish are doing, and how to catch them. But winter time fishing could be made easier if you approach it in a simple way. One way is to be rigged with minimal rigging setups and throw baits that simply get bites and in terms of the fish, they tend to group up, so when you get a bite or two, stick around and milk the spot.
Two baits that I always have on board are a finesse jig with a Culprit DW1 or DW2 trailer, and an umbrella rig with 3″ Culprit Minnows attached. This may sound like vast differences in approaches, but it really isn’t. This is because there are a few key things to consider when looking for groups of winter time bass. One is the potential of the area you found them and the other is how they are positioned. Once you get a read on those two concepts related to your spot, you can get to work.
The potential of an area can be theoretically determined by the surrounding territory. For instance, if the area is adjacent to a location that holds a lot of bass throughout the year because of an adjacent grass bed, highly populated creek or current situation, then you are more likely to find good numbers of fish in that spot. If it’s a small spot with little surrounding annual “bassy” goodness, then most likely it’s going to be an onesy-twosy spot for you. Once that’s determined, you can decide on how much of an effort to put into the spot, and how to go about catching them. That’s when the choice of baits come into play.
When choosing the best bait for the situation, it’s important to determine how the bass are positioned. Many times, like on sunny days, the surface temp heats up, consequently the bait and predatory bass rise in the water column and suspend up towards the warmth. That can make them difficult to catch. Fan casting an umbrella rig with 3″ pearl Culprit Minnows and slow rolling it through the suspended bait/bass has proven to be a great choice for me. I change the jig head weights often, the pound test of the Sunline I use, the Culprit Minnow colors and I often vary the retrieve in an attempt to dial in the finite details of getting bit. Sometimes it’s something as simple as boat position, other times it’s something like a stop and go retrieve that makes the difference in more bites. The key is being in the strike zone while they’re suspended, and the umbrella rig with the realistic action of the smaller bite-size Culprit Minnows is a great way to approach that situation.
The other way I often find winter bass is hugging tight to the bottom. With water temps reaching their low points, bass can get finicky. A great choice is probing the bottom cover with a finesse jig rigged with a Culprit DW1 or DW2 trailer. I like natural colors like green pumpkin or brown with a 1/4 oz. or 3/8 oz. Dave’s Tournament Tackle finesse jig on 8 pound Sunline Sniper. Depending on the water color, choice jig profile or species of bass, I alter between the DW1 and DW2. I often use a spinning rod because I feel it gives me more control when trying to free fall the jig/trailer combo down more vertical to the cover. A great tip for situations like this is to not cast the jig really far. I find that when casting it far you are not only more likely to get hung, but you often move the bait too far horizontally towards you with even small twitches of your rod tip. If you take a half cast or a short pitch right into the juice, you are more likely to stay above and in contact with the bait, and keep the bait around the cover for longer. This more vertical hopping action paired with the subtle and natural crawfish characteristics of the DW1 and DW2 keeps the jig soaking in the strike zone longer, resulting in more winter time bites.
So when you are gearing up for your winter time fishing, add these Rigging Setups to your arsenal so that you catch more bass.