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I love fall and winter..the fishing not so much.


Darth-Baiter

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I put my truck up and over a muddy mountain to get to a distant lake. I pay the launch fee and the lady gives me the gate lock combination.  She says, “be careful, you will be alone”.  She was not joking. I strained my ears and eyes looking for another person.  Nobody. I had the giant lake to myself.  I cinch down my PFD tighter and paddle out.  I could not find the bass!  I would see groups of fish down at 25 feet. I’d cast. Into the group and would pull out a hard charging pike-minnow.  Very fun, but not the target fish.  To be honest, I have never caught pikeminnow, so it was nice to check that off the list. 
 

the wind was predicted at 11:00am.  Right on schedule.  I look out at the main lake and oh-o.  It was a wet ride back. My new kayak sliced thru  just fine.  It never got squirrelly.   I’ll enjoy this winter for what it is.  I’ll fish thru, but I’ll keep my expectations in check with respect to fishing. 

2536499D-00F9-46D3-BD69-5C6360A47C04.jpeg

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If memory serves, you are new to bass fishing? Man I was in the same boat as you for a long time. I mean like, several years!!!! I dont even think I caught my first winter bass until after college, all those winters wasted!!!! Honestly I didn’t really believe it was possible. We were always under the impression that you had to fish for stocked trout in the winter so that’s what we did. I had read all the articles about float n fly fishing  for winter smallmouth in TN and tried it a few times here and there, no bites (I’ve still never caught a bass with float n fly). Luckily somewhere along the way, one of these articles mentioned something about a silver buddy. It was December 27, circa 2009 and me and a couple buddies were on my boat armed with a million different flies to dangle under floats and a few silver buddies and little Cleo spoons. Of course, nothing on the bobbers……… after a few hours my buddy James was fishing with a Cleo and says “I think I’ve got one” and by golly he did. So we all tie on spoons and catch a few 2-3 lb bass green and brown!!! Hallelujah it can be done! So then we try the silver buddies and catch a few more. My buddy had a gold one tied on his rod that was laying in the boat. I pick up his rod to try the gold one and a fish grabs it and starts pulling really hard down deep, like something that would live in the ocean. He buries the rod into the water and it’s just slammed onto the gunnel of my boat, I thought the fish was going to pull me off the front deck and into the water. I pushed the thumb bar and let him take some line, my first ever experience with “freespooling” only because I was using someone else’s rod and thought it was going to snap over the side of the boat. Get her into the boat and it’s a monster, probably still my biggest bass to date. 
C6464-B38-AFEC-4756-91-ED-35-F4-A93-C439Needless to say, I’ve been a winter fishing junkie ever since that day. Here’s the funny thing, I haven’t caught a fish on a silver buddy in years. They are great baits but once I learned that the fish will bite in winter and gained some confidence, I can now catch them with all my regular baits (worms, tubes, spoons, jerkbaits, sometimes even topwater). ALL YOU NEED IS SOMETHING TO TRIGGER YOUR CONFIDENCE! There’s no telling what/where/when it will be but if you know where some fish are hiding based on sonar, I would definitely fish a spoon for them. Nowadays I almost always use a 2.5 inch gulp minnow or 2.75 inch tube and always have pretty good results. I’m sure the spoons and blade baits would still work, I just needed that first good day to build from.

 

another thing that helped me was starting to follow some tournaments. I remember two bassmaster classics with very cold water in the high 30s at take off. One was at grand lake and one was at hartwell. You hear them say the water temp on TV and think “doggone I bet they will have to fish differently……” then you see guys catching the heck out of fish with crank baits underspins jerkbaits and jigs and they are culling before the water temp was much over 40…….. winter tournaments almost always have bigger weights. 
 

So before 2009 I literally didn’t even think you could catch a bass in winter and now it’s my favorite time of year to fish by a landslide (avatar pic is probably my biggest smallmouth caught in December). If only it wasn’t dark outside all winter !!!!!

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Funny. I ordered tubes and all the a accoutrements a few days ago. 
 

I’ll keep at it.  Today I got one bass.  My friend got four, but it’s good. I enjoy a friends success very much. 

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We're taking my buddies new bass boat out this Thursday, sunny and in the 50's.

My catch ratio for winter bass fishing is NOT good. 

It's been cold here in the mountains so expecting water temps in low 40's.

Only throwing 3 baits......Jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs. 

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On 11/29/2021 at 8:42 AM, Bird said:

We're taking my buddies new bass boat out this Thursday, sunny and in the 50's.

My catch ratio for winter bass fishing is NOT good. 

It's been cold here in the mountains so expecting water temps in low 40's.

Only throwing 3 baits......Jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs. 

Add a tiny tube jig in there and see if that doesn’t improve the catch ratio. Drag it slow 

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All of my biggest bass were caught in winter or early spring. My buddy and I were trolling large swimbaits on lead core line a lot at one time because I had elbow surgery and casting was not in the recovery plan. We fished Monday through Friday one week in February and caught at least one over 10 lbs each day that week.

 

My PB came on a crankbait a week before Xmas. 

 

I love fishing in nice weather, but I like winter fishing because I know my chances for bigger fish are generally better that time of year.

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I notice that you seem to enjoy fishing a variety of different waters. It is tough to crack new water in a day. I say 'new water' because if you haven't been fishing a lake regularly, it can be like fishing new water each time you go. 

 

I would probably venture out more than I do to other lakes, but with the Quagga quarantine thing, it makes the penalty for doing so untenable for me. The good thing is that I keep up as things are changing. The bad thing is I am fishing the same lake every time I go.

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On 11/24/2021 at 9:11 AM, Darth-Baiter said:

I would see groups of fish down at 25 feet.

 

Do you mean visually or with your sonar?  25 feet of clarity is gin clear.

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Fall and winter doesn’t mean a thing to cold blooded bass.

Yes the cold water slows metabolism however at this time big female bass need to eat for their egg sack growth with fat by eating high protein prey. 

In SoCal lakes the general bass population goes deeper after the lakes turn over because the baitfish are deeper. Deeper means about 35’ on average. It takes Bass a day to acclimate to pressure changes to suspend without using energy, basically like floating in space. If a bass suspended at 35’ to 30’ it’s difficult for the bass to run up the the surface do to air bladder expansion, 20’ seems about the max depth change and still swallow prey. Keep that in mind selecting lures.

Pre spawn or around 55 degree water column the bass move up to around 15’-20’ and can easily feed on near surface trout and crawdads at nearly any depth.

Most anglers never change the depth they like to fish and mis out on the colder water seasonal period bass.

Tom

 

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On 11/26/2021 at 2:07 PM, Darth-Baiter said:

Funny. I ordered tubes and all the a accoutrements a few days ago. 
 

I’ll keep at it.  Today I got one bass.  My friend got four, but it’s good. I enjoy a friends success very much. 

 

Yep. On a tough day if either of us catches it was a good day for me.

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