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Different Approach To Winter Bass Wishing?

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Ive read multiple things about Bass feeding in Winter, and some say they don't feed at all or barely at all. Either way I think we can all agree they don't eat as much. So,why do we always hear about fishing SLOW,LIGHT,AND DEEP? If Bass arent eating real food,why in the world would they eat a lure?? So, how do you catch them? I was reading this article from Hank Parker(http://www.bassresource.com/hank-parker-fishing/reaction-baits.html) and he says that when Bass are not in a mood to eat,sometimes the only way to get them to strike is to use their predatorial instincts. Suprise them,scare them, make them curious. I think this makes more sense as opposed to tempting lures like dragging a jig, shaky head, drop shot. These are all lures that dont just pop up on the Bass and they can see them and criticize them befroe they go past them. So i figure,why not use the same techniques Hank speaks of in his article, but in deep water??Guess where the fish are holding, which direction they're facing, and then slow roll a spinnerbair or crankbait.But bring it from behind the Bass to the front of the fish that way it suprises them and they strike out of impulse.Just something to think about,any suggestions?

 

Tyler

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Bass will definitely hit reaction baits during the winter, like a spinnerbait or lipless crank running right by their face.

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it is all about proximity to the fish.  cold water they will move less so you need to be right on top of them with whatever technique you choose.  I have caught them in 40 degree water on jigs and on crank baits.  More success though on slow presentations.

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Snapping a jigging spoon right in their face catches me a lot of cold water bass, as does twitching a suspending jerkbait. 

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Bass still eat the water temp slows their metabolism. Caught fish in worst of days when I was alone on the lake . Jigs , jerkbaits , drop shot , crankbaits, spoons are a staple of winter baits for a reason they work.

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The guys up north with ice are probably the most familiar with "bass wishing" in the winter

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  Take a look at your average water temperatures.  Water temps of 32-39 degrees are what bass under the ice are going to experience.  32 degrees right against the ice,and progressively warmer toward the bottom.  In lakes, the warmest water is going to be close to the bottom, about 38-39 degrees.  Water is at it's lightest at or  below 32 degrees.  That is why ice floats.  But until it freezes, it will sink as it cools.  So the water close to the ice gets heavy and sinks to the bottom, warms up against the bottom, and rises until it hits the ice and cools off again.  This is one of the reasons why the most actively feeding  fish are going to be close to the bottom of a lake  or pond. The bottom is the warmest part of a lake in the winter, the reverse of summer pattern when the warmest water is at the surface. Digestion drastically slows down as the fish's body temperature cools down close to the freezing point.  A meal that would take a  bass 8 hrs to digest in the summer now takes a week to digest..  That actually works out OK as  most of the food is dormant, under rocks, leaves and buried in the mud.  Since the fish mostly congregate in the same deep holes, competition gets pretty fierce, and even though food needs are much lower, it is also harder to find food  so the fish will still feed.  In my experience, when you find those deep holes the fish can be stacked up.  If you catch one, stick around and try a few presentations until you get bit again.I am perplexed by states like Pa that have liberal limits on bass caught through the ice.  Once you find these fish, it isn't hard to clean out a lake.   Although a reaction strike may get one or two fish, you will find that slow subtle finesse presentations will win the day.  Bites tend to be very light and many if not most will happen on a dead stick.  Although the fishing slows pretty drastically in temperate lakes, the water temperature isn't far outside of a basses comfort zone, if you slow down your presentation and fish close to or on the bottom, once you find fish, they can be caught.

  Rivers are different though.  Since they are constantly flowing, they have much less convection effect warming them up.  So until they start to freeze, the temps continue to drop until the water is just barely above the freezing point.  Deep holes will be approximately the same temp as shallow water, at least below rapids where any stratification has been mixed up by the turbulence.  If you question this, take a look at colder norther rivers where it is common to see anchor ice forming. this is when the bottom is cold enough for the ice to freeze as a coating on the submerged rocks, boulders and gravel forming the river bottom.  At these temps, most fish can barely digest food at all.  Metabolism slows  down to a crawl.  Yet some of the fish will still feed.  Walleyes are well adapted to low temps and can be very aggressive at 32.1 degrees.  Yellow perch and pickerel, to a lesser extent also seem to be able to deal with extremely low temps.  When it comes to the bass family, I find they tend to turn off at about 34 degrees.  I will occasionally catch a smallmouth bass in 32.1 degree water, but I would say it is somewhat unusual.  You can find fish stacked up and they will not bite, even bait.  They do not need to feed.  The food will rot in them before it digests.

  There are some other factors influencing fish location and behavior  in winter, like light, weed growth, oxygen levels and current  Put all of those factors together and  you will have a good start at locating wintering fish in your local waters.

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Bass will definitely hit reaction baits during the winter, like a spinnerbait or lipless crank running right by their face.

x2. I try fast and slow till i find what works. you never know what mood they're in at a given hour of he day.  i have a tendency to go shallow and fast in more sunny shallow areas where the bass are warming up during the peak sun warmth from 12-4 pm. and pick shallow areas that are near deep drop off b/c the fish spend less energy moving up vertically to suntan :sun: 

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Bass will definitely hit reaction baits during the winter, like a spinnerbait or lipless crank running right by their face.

 

Oh yeah, where we are they shure do ! ;)

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Bass are also opportunist and will hit a small, slow presentation that is easy to get without exerting a lot of energy. A reaction bait may work in cold water, but it will just as likely spook a bass as it approaches. Both scenarios can work at times, but I don't have much choice as it's really difficult to cut a long trench out of the ice so I can cast my reaction bait.  By the time I'm done with one end, the other end is already starting to freeze over. :wacko:

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Oh yeah, where we are they shure do ! ;)

You sure know how to hurt a guy, but then there's the fact that while your putting in your 40hr. work week I'm out on the water. :tongue19:

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  Take a look at your average water temperatures.  Water temps of 32-39 degrees are what bass under the ice are going to experience.  32 degrees right against the ice,and progressively warmer toward the bottom.  In lakes, the warmest water is going to be close to the bottom, about 38-39 degrees.  Water is at it's lightest at or  below 32 degrees.  That is why ice floats.  But until it freezes, it will sink as it cools.  So the water close to the ice gets heavy and sinks to the bottom, warms up against the bottom, and rises until it hits the ice and cools off again.  This is one of the reasons why the most actively feeding  fish are going to be close to the bottom of a lake  or pond. The bottom is the warmest part of a lake in the winter, the reverse of summer pattern when the warmest water is at the surface. Digestion drastically slows down as the fish's body temperature cools down close to the freezing point.  A meal that would take a  bass 8 hrs to digest in the summer now takes a week to digest..  That actually works out OK as  most of the food is dormant, under rocks, leaves and buried in the mud.  Since the fish mostly congregate in the same deep holes, competition gets pretty fierce, and even though food needs are much lower, it is also harder to find food  so the fish will still feed.  In my experience, when you find those deep holes the fish can be stacked up.  If you catch one, stick around and try a few presentations until you get bit again.I am perplexed by states like Pa that have liberal limits on bass caught through the ice.  Once you find these fish, it isn't hard to clean out a lake.   Although a reaction strike may get one or two fish, you will find that slow subtle finesse presentations will win the day.  Bites tend to be very light and many if not most will happen on a dead stick.  Although the fishing slows pretty drastically in temperate lakes, the water temperature isn't far outside of a basses comfort zone, if you slow down your presentation and fish close to or on the bottom, once you find fish, they can be caught.

  Rivers are different though.  Since they are constantly flowing, they have much less convection effect warming them up.  So until they start to freeze, the temps continue to drop until the water is just barely above the freezing point.  Deep holes will be approximately the same temp as shallow water, at least below rapids where any stratification has been mixed up by the turbulence.  If you question this, take a look at colder norther rivers where it is common to see anchor ice forming. this is when the bottom is cold enough for the ice to freeze as a coating on the submerged rocks, boulders and gravel forming the river bottom.  At these temps, most fish can barely digest food at all.  Metabolism slows  down to a crawl.  Yet some of the fish will still feed.  Walleyes are well adapted to low temps and can be very aggressive at 32.1 degrees.  Yellow perch and pickerel, to a lesser extent also seem to be able to deal with extremely low temps.  When it comes to the bass family, I find they tend to turn off at about 34 degrees.  I will occasionally catch a smallmouth bass in 32.1 degree water, but I would say it is somewhat unusual.  You can find fish stacked up and they will not bite, even bait.  They do not need to feed.  The food will rot in them before it digests.

  There are some other factors influencing fish location and behavior  in winter, like light, weed growth, oxygen levels and current  Put all of those factors together and  you will have a good start at locating wintering fish in your local waters.

My lake and river is muddy! Probably a foot of visibility at most, sometimes less. Ive been reading up on cold muddy water Bass fishing, and its COMPLETELY different than clear cold water fishing. The Bass are not as comfortable that deep when the water is dirty, because they like to be acute to their surroundings. Like us in a dark room, we feel a wall to find a light, Bass do the same in familiar shallow areas. ALSO, apparently, Bass are attracted to rain water runoff that is warmer than the river or lake water.Only if the air temperature was warm enough to make the rain water warm. :) If so, This will have Bass congregate in the shallows. Another thing is boulders that are shallow enough to pick up sunlight, and they will give off heat to the water! How cool ! I know of a spot that has both boulders on the bank,and runoff, so I will try it tomorrow. Let you know how it goes!

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I won't say there isn't  difference between clear and muddy water.  IMHO the fishing tends to be better in stained or muddy water, cold or warm.  The biggest factor is going to be temperature.  Try fishing a river as the temp is droppping through the low forties.  Bass will bite until the water temps are cllose to freezing.  Even the you can get bit once in a while, but you have to be sensitive, and react properly..

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BBTW-  I have more confidence in noisy, flashy or dark colored,  lures in muddy water, quieter, more natural colored  lures in clearer water.

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Bass are also opportunist and will hit a small, slow presentation that is easy to get without exerting a lot of energy. A reaction bait may work in cold water, but it will just as likely spook a bass as it approaches. Both scenarios can work at times, but I don't have much choice as it's really difficult to cut a long trench out of the ice so I can cast my reaction bait.  By the time I'm done with one end, the other end is already starting to freeze over. :wacko:

 

That's why I stick to topwaters.  Less chopping and the same results!  :lol:

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Have had good results in winter around here since moving here from Oregon five years ago.  I personally like clearer water and have had wonderful days in forty degree's of water and even water with ice.  Have used an aqua view to check out some areas and am amazed of the fish concentration and how fat they are.  Reaction baits have been best for me but have had some great hair jig days too.  Favorite days are overcast or even a bit rainy in winter.  Little wind doesn't hurt either.

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As per Ken Cook, bass pro at a previous Bassmaster University.

 

Ken graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Zoology and worked as a fisheries biologist for 13 years before becoming a bass pro.  He and his wife are now retired and live on a ranch in Oklahoma.

 

Speed of metabolism of a bass based on water temperature to digest a minnow:

40* = 8 days to digest a minnow

50* = 7 days

60* = 2 and a half days

70* = 24 hours

80*+ = 18 hours

 

73* to 75* is most efficient metabolism.

 

Bass are predators who go on search and destroy missions to feed. They like to ambush or take advantage of edges when feeding.

 

10% to 20% of the day bass feed. The rest of the time they rest or hide by things in the water and any cover they can find such as grass beds, lily pads, boat docks, piers, etc.

 

A bass is an opportunist when feeding and they will eat anything that presents itself while looking for an easy opportunity to eat.

 

Bass like a "roof over their head" when not feeding and will use surface water for a roof or go deep.

 

Poorest water temperatures to feed are under 60* or over 90*.

 

Usually in cold water they like minnows and shad.

 

Taking what Ken says into consideration you can throw anything you want as long as you aggravate the bass to hit it or present it as an easy meal when the water temperatures drop to 60* or below. I have no idea if the direction of the bait makes any difference as a bass is an inquisitive animal and he will turn to see or hear what is around him.

 

So just keep on chucking that bait and have fun.

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You all have fish finders and boats, its cheating. Try winter fishing from shore and see how many fish you get.

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The lake I fish frequently in winter has good clarity (probably 5-6 feet in the winter). Once the water gets down to 40 degrees or lower the only presentation I have had success with has been a jig on the bottom with a smaller trailer (Tiny Paca Craw size). Part of the issue is that the bass are almost always at least 15 feet down (usually more like 20 - 25) which takes many presentations out of the picture.

 

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As per Ken Cook, bass pro at a previous Bassmaster University.

 

Ken graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Zoology and worked as a fisheries biologist for 13 years before becoming a bass pro.  He and his wife are now retired and live on a ranch in Oklahoma.

 

Speed of metabolism of a bass based on water temperature to digest a minnow:

40* = 8 days to digest a minnow

50* = 7 days

60* = 2 and a half days

70* = 24 hours

80*+ = 18 hours

 

73* to 75* is most efficient metabolism.

 

Bass are predators who go on search and destroy missions to feed. They like to ambush or take advantage of edges when feeding.

 

10% to 20% of the day bass feed. The rest of the time they rest or hide by things in the water and any cover they can find such as grass beds, lily pads, boat docks, piers, etc.

 

A bass is an opportunist when feeding and they will eat anything that presents itself while looking for an easy opportunity to eat.

 

Bass like a "roof over their head" when not feeding and will use surface water for a roof or go deep.

 

Poorest water temperatures to feed are under 60* or over 90*.

 

Usually in cold water they like minnows and shad.

 

Taking what Ken says into consideration you can throw anything you want as long as you aggravate the bass to hit it or present it as an easy meal when the water temperatures drop to 60* or below. I have no idea if the direction of the bait makes any difference as a bass is an inquisitive animal and he will turn to see or hear what is around him.

 

So just keep on chucking that bait and have fun.

I have to take exception to the below 60 deg statement. Maybe that applies to southern waters. Over the years I  have caught so many smallies that were jammed full of crawdads and minnows with many still visible in their throats,in water temps from 36 to 50deg. Taking in to account the aggravation bite theory, then guess I have run across a lot of ticked off bass.No,the bass feed heavily for the winter. 

The least desirable temp for me to bass fish is the 62 to 53 range in the fall when temps are getting cooler.

Fronts affect the winter bite too,so apparently they get more temperamental during that time?

C22

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Cold water bass seem to respond well to short aggressive vertical motion, with little horizontal movement. This is not to say that cold adapted bass won't chase, at times. Blade-baits (Silver Buddy's, etc.), lipless, jigs, spoons, do this well.

 

But slow crawls can work well too. Proximity matters here. Finding concentrations of bass and fishing s-s-s-s-sl-l-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w-w, can work really well at times. I used to tie jigs and fished hair, marabou, then plastic, as waters warmed. A real breakthrough for me came when I found I could catch bass stacked up in creek channel turns by slowing down to a painful crawl. I did this by tying a hair jig on a 1/16oz Slider Head using a wide fan of deer hair, a buoyant plastic trailer, and a clip-on overhead spinner. This thing allowed me to catch those stacked bass consistently weeks earlier than I had previously.

 

As you can read by all the responses above, there are no hard and fast rules that cover, but there are restricted parameters to work within. How wide they are depends on a range of conditions and circumstances. Generally, bass are indeed slowed way down in cold water, but they will feed, and are capable of chasing if they know they can catch prey. Every water body is different and circumstances change at all time scales.

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The only thing about winter fishing that I find substantially different than fishing any other time of the year is you have to put the bait right in front of their face.  There will be some shallow (as long as the water isn't extremely cold) and some deep just like any other time of the year, but in the winter you're probably not gonna get a bass to chase a bait out from cover too often.  I've yet to have it happen to me.  Just think smaller strike zone and a bit slower and use what always works for you. 

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You all have fish finders and boats, its cheating. Try winter fishing from shore and see how many fish you get.

You live in a land of hard water.....thank you I will stay south and use a boat.  Don't need to prove anything to anyone

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