Keri: I got a fish, believe it or not. I threw it way out there in the middle of nowhere and caught the fish.
Male: Sitting on these little drops.
Male: That's a good fish.
Keri: Come here little guy, in the middle of nowhere. I threw to a dark spot, and that's just it. Threw to a dark spot. Another little pound-and-a-halfer.
Glenn: Hey, folks, Glenn May here with BassResource.com. Today I want to talk about winter fishing. I know it can be tough. Winter time, it's slow fishing, the bites are few and far between, it's cold and uncomfortable to fish sometimes. So it can be real tough fishing. So today I'm going to talk about the top seven baits that I use, and how I fish them, and where I fish them. And hopefully, it will help you be more productive this winter.
So let's start right off with the suspending jerkbait. The suspending jerkbait is ideal for the wintertime. It works best for me when there's been a cold snap, you know, and when you have a high-pressure system like today with a blue skies overhead. That's a real good time to do that because the bass will come out and suspend a little bit sometimes. And you want to use a spinning jerkbait to get right down to them and stay with them.
So the way I fish this, I use fluorocarbon line. Because this is a slow presentation, water is clear, bass have a lot of time to look at your offering, so I want to make sure that it looks as natural as possible. So I'm using fluorocarbon. I use one that gets down to at least 10 feet of water, the deeper the better. Wind it really fast, get it down to its suspending depth, and then let it sit there. Don't move it. This is why it's... you need to have a neutral suspending bait, not one that can slowly float up or one that slowly sinks because the key with fishing this bait is how long that pauses. It can be 4 seconds or so up to 30 seconds, sometimes a minute without moving it at all. And then when you do move it, it's a slight twitch. It's not like you're popping it, like you do in warmer temperatures, here, it's a subtle twitch. What you're doing here is you're mimicking a bait fish that's struggling to stay alive, struggling to stay upright, So they don't have a lot of energy. They don't have this this sudden burst of popping around and snapping really fast, so don't snap your line. Just give it a subtle twitch and then park it. Let it sit again. It's a slow methodical way.
It's a great way to fish those deeper weed lines. It's a great way to fish those points, steep banks, those, you know, anything that's got chunk rock on it or logs, stomps maybe, somewhere the bass would be hanging out in. And suspending just off of that, you want to get right to them and fish those areas. With a suspending jerkbait, you're gonna have yourself a really good time fishing them.
The next bait I want to talk about is the underspin. This is the bait that's been around for a long, long time, because it works, especially in the dead of winter, the coldest part of winter. That's when the underspin seems to shine the most. That little blade on the bottom tends to be a little bit of extra flat, because sometimes that's all you need to get that extra bite.
What I'll do is I'll thread on a little plastic bait that either looks like a shad, or maybe a small paddle tail, little boot tail paddle tail on there, like a three-inch trailer on there. And I'll cast this out over deep structure, deeper than 15 feet deep. And again, I just want it to get down there and I want it just slowly reeling over the top of this stuff, I want to keep it up off the bottom, but close near the bottom. And just a slow, steady cadence, that's all you really need to do and that little blade will keep moving in that little trailer. It's very simple.
And sometimes what I'll do is I'll just drag it. If it's windy enough, I'll just cast it out and I'll let the wind move me along. Just pulling it up over the tops of that, top of a hump, or a point, sometimes those steep banks work really well. Just drag along as long as it's not touching the bottom, keeping that blade moving. That's all you need and it works. It's very... it's simple way of fishing it but it can be very effective.
Okay, the next bait I want to talk about is the grub. Yeah, the simple grub. It's not used very much these, you know... I don't know why it's not as popular as it used to be. But I use them a lot. Three-inch grub and five inch grubs is all use.
I put them on a football head jig, a quarter round football head jig and am fishing in deeper than 15 feet deep, open hook because there's not a lot of weeds down. There's not a lot to get snagged on. It's just basically rock and mud. So I'm using fluorocarbon line because fluorocarbon line holds up better with against rock than braid and still has all its sensitivity. And I'm using a white grub. The reason I use a white grub is because when you're fishing it deep, I fish in sometimes up to 50 feet deep, there's not a lot of light penetration getting down there. So the colors really don't show up. So as I'm really looking for contrast against the bottom of the lake or river, so white, straight up white. And I just drag it across any kind of structure I can find. Now that can be rock piles, that could be humps, ridges, that could be long tapering points, I like steep banks, anything I can find to do with some rocks down there. Sometimes there's debris. I've found some good spots where this discarded 55 gallon drums down 45 feet of water, they hold fish. So, you know, pay attention to depth finder, find anything down there that's different than the lake bottom, and fish that. Just drag it. Let the wind slowly drift you over. You're not hopping, and popping, and giving it all kinds of action. You just want to drag it slowly, occasionally giving these long pauses. And it can be dynamite especially in the coldest part of the winter. That seems to work best for me.
The next bait I want to talk about is the three-quarter ounce spinnerbait. Yeah, I said three quarter ounce, heavy spinnerbait. I'll use a white one with a little bit of chartreuse in it. And the blades are typically either a double Colorado, double Indiana blades or a single Colorado blade. The Colorado is the one I use the most.
There's two ways that I fish that. One is what you might expect a slow rolling it. Get it down to that deep structure that I've been talking about same places. And here you just want to slowly, slowly crank it real slow, over that cover in that structure, just letting that Colorado blade just thump thump thump along, heavy thumper. You feel that rod tip, just thumping along. Give it a pause every now and then. Let it sink back down to make sure you're still in contact with that bottom. And then just slowly roll it along. And that's all you need to do. And you can't believe how many fish you catch just doing that alone.
But another way that I like to fish it with those, especially if it's got a Colorado blade, is to helicopter it. So let it fall vertically. Throw it out over a point and let it fall straight down. It just falls like this with that little blade just helicoptering as it goes down. A lot of times it gets bit before it even hits the bottom. It can be a very effective way to fish offshore structure, offshore cover.
I was fishing with a friend of mine and I don't know why but for whatever reason, he didn't rig up his rods the night before. And I was ready to go. We parked it out at a point, and I caught three fish fishing with a three-quarter ounce spinnerbait just like that before he actually was all tied on ready to go. He wasn't too happy about it. But that was the game plan. That's how it worked that day is they wanted it to fall vertically.
It works best with a short arm spinnerbait. But it still works well if you got a long arm spinnerbait. So don't hesitate to try that during the wintertime, you'd be surprised how effective that can be.
Another bait I like to use is the four-inch plastic finesse worm, specifically a hand poured finesse worm. Now the reason I like hand poured is because in the wintertime when the water temperature gets below 50 degrees, plastics tend to lose some of their flexibility. They're not as pliable, so they don't have as much movement in them. A finesse worm, although it doesn't have a lot of appendages, it has a natural worm movement. The hand poured, they will stiffen up a little bit in that colder water, but because they're so flexible to begin with, they actually look really natural and normal in the colder temperatures. So that's why I like hand poured. I usually use, like, I love the Don Iovino hand poured. There's several others on the West Coast that make hand poured. You can find them every relay. The one exception would be, for mass produced, would be the robot worms. Those look and feel like hand poured, and they work just as well in the wintertime. So if you can't find any actual hand poured or can't afford those, go with the robot worms.
But what I'll do is I'll put those on a drop shot rig and on the split shot rig. I'll use the split shot rig to find fish. And I'm fishing deeper than 15 feet sometimes as deep as 50. And I'm looking for a structure, anything that's different from the bottom contour, so, humps, ridges, ledges, rock piles, those kind of things. I like steeper points. Steep banks, those type of things is what I'm looking for. And I just drag that split shot over the top of that cover, that structure, I mean. And as soon as I just let the wind just kind of drift the boat along, you know, and I'll pause it. I'll make long pauses in between, such as 4 seconds up to 30 seconds long pause. And when I do move it, I'm not lifting and hopping it off the bottom, or twitching, or shaking, or giving it any extra action, just slow steady drag on the bottom.
Once I do get bit, then I'll switch over to a drop shot. And I'll pinpoint that specific area where they bit, so for example if it was a rock pile, or it was on a point. All work are thoroughly with that drop shot, vertically jigging it. The difference is in the summertime, I may use an 18 inch leader, maybe longer than that, but in the wintertime, I'm using an 8 to 10 inch leader. Because these fish are right on the bottom, I want to get this right to them. And I'll just let it hang out, you know, just maybe remove that rod tip just slightly, the subtle movements if that. But just let it sit in place, and maybe let the wind kind of drifts the boat a little bit, but slowly. Work it slowly. This is why I use the the split shot first to find the fish. Once you get bit, typically in the wintertime that the fish are congregating, they kind of school up, so if you catch a fish in an area, there's generally more in that area. This is why I go bait the drop shot, to work that area more thoroughly, to pick off as many fish as I can. So a four inch finesse worm, that is key to this presentation.
The next floor I like to use during the wintertime is the blade bait. This is a bait that's proven over decades. It works great during the wintertime. It's very simple to use. What makes it so productive is it's a small bite-sized meal basically. And it has a tight vibration which is key during the wintertime, the tighter the vibration, the better. It's also a heavy piece of metal that just casts like a bullet. It doesn't have a lot of wind resistance, so it's very easy to cast, which is what you need for the presentation.
What I do is I throw it out across deep points. I'm fishing in deeper than 15 feet deep, sometimes up to 40, 50 feet deep. Cast it out over these humps, ridges, rock piles, creek ledges, any kind of difference in the bottom contours is what I'm looking for, something different. Cast it way out. Let it get down near the bottom, almost on the bottom. And here, I just slowly crank it, just nice and slow. I want to maintain bottom content, but I don't want it to be bouncing on the bottom. I want to keep it off the bottom, but every once in a while I hit in the bottom so I know it's down there and just slowly crank it back. Sometimes I give it a little pop, and let it flutter back down and hit the bottom, and then pick up real and again, just to make sure I'm in contact with it. And that little pop and that flutter sometimes is what you need. Sometimes it goes like yo yo action. Just bring it up and then let it drop down, hit the bottom, and pop it back up slowly, and let drop right back down. That falling action, sometimes you'll get bites that way. But usually just a straight, steady, slow retrieve over this bottom structure is all you need for wintertime fishing.
Okay, so the next floor that I like to use is a jig. Specifically I use two different kinds of jigs during the wintertime. One is a rubber skirted jig, and the other is a hair jig.
So let's start with a rubber skirted jig. There's two ways I fish that. The most common way that I fish it is deep, deeper than 15 feet deep. I want to crawl it over any kind of structure down there. Now because I'm that deep, there's less weeds and more rocks. So, a couple things about that I need to adapt. One is I'm using a football head jig. Because you crawl on the rocks, it just moves along, wobbles, looks like a little crawdad. But I'm also using fluorocarbon line, because rocks will chew up braid faster than it will fluorocarbon, believe it or not. And when you catch a real nice fish on a jig, typically they're big in the wintertime. Last thing you want to do is have a break off on a big fish because you've been dragging that braid over all those rocks for the past hour or two, so I use fluorocarbon.
The other advantage of fluorocarbon is that in the wintertime, the lakes tend to be clear. And you're moving at a slower pace, and so the bass have more time to examine your offering. So, fluorocarbon is less visible in the water than braid. And I'm dragging it over all this structure. I'm looking for deep rock piles in humps, ledges. I'm looking for creek channels, points in steep banks, anything like that, that's the kind of thing I want to focus on. And I'll just drag it over this stuff. I'm not hopping it and jumping it. Crawdads are out during the wintertime. They don't hibernate, but they are very lethargic. They don't move very fast. So you don't want to hop it, and jump it, and give it all kinds of action.
In addition, I changed the trailer. Whereas in the summertime I'll use like a rage bug or Rage Craw trailer, where it has a lot of action, those flappers just move a lot in the water, wintertime I'll change that up. I'll use like a zoom chunk or maybe a V&M cherry bug, something that doesn't move a whole lot but still looks like the shape of a crawdad. That's what I want to have. And then like I said, I drag it over this stuff with long pauses in between. I'll give it up to maybe 4 or 5 seconds pause all the way up to 30 seconds and experiment with the duration of that pause. That is more key than anything else. When you're fishing the wintertime is how long you wait before you move that bait again. So you need to do experiment with that to figure out what that cadence is, and zero in on that and you'll catch more fish.
The other way that I fish a rubber jig is if I'm fishing a lake that has a winter draw down. When they start to draw that lake down, what happens is the crawdads will come out of their mud holes and other crevices. They got to move deep. They got to get down below that frost line. So they best know this. And they come up shallow, and they start feeding on those crawdads. So I'll take that jig and I'll fish like I do during the spring and in the wintertime. And I'm flipping, and pitching it, and casting it to everything I can see, any kind of visible cover. Mostly docks, but also I need to find rocks and logs, any kind of weed edges, as long as the weeds are still green, sunken trees, stump rows, whatever you can find up to 15 feet deep. And, you know, if you've had a stretch of warm weather, or stable weather, go along with that drawdown, that's perfect conditions. You can have yourself a really good day so don't miss out on that opportunity.
Now hair jigs, there's two ways I fish hair jigs. One is just like the rubber skirted jig. I fish it deep using the quarter ounce to half ounce jig, football head jig, and just crawling it over everything down there. I don't use a trailer with these. I'm trying to resemble more something like a sculpin or baitfish that's crawling along in the mud down there, so no crawl trailer.
The other way I'll fish it is if there's school of baitfish. Sometimes this happens with perch and sometimes with shad. During the wintertime, the ball up be a little bit off shore, kind of suspended over deeper water. If you find those on your depth finder, it's a tight ball. That usually means you have predators around there feeding on them, typically bass. If it's a loose ball of shad or whatever, then they're not under attack. There probably aren't any bass around. But if you find that tight ball, what I'll do is I'll take that hair jig and I'll drop it right through that school. I want to get it down to the bottom because typically, with the bass are gonna sit underneath, and they're feeding on those bait fishes, they're dying off or struggling. So you get that hair jig right down, come through that ball at the shad and you'll get whacked. You'll definitely get hit. Sometimes I'll have to heavy up a little bit especially if it's perch because they like hair jigs, too. So I need it to punch through that ball bait fish first before it gets to the bass. But yeah, that can be a real productive way to fish and catch bass during the wintertime, so jigs.
All right, so there you have it, my top seven baits that I use during the wintertime. I hope that helps you. For more tips and tricks like this, visit BassResource.com.