Catch Big Cold Water Bass With These Lures
Most weekend anglers call it quits once winter arrives. The biggest myth is that bass don’t bite in the winter. I’ve heard people say that bass, along with other types of fish, go dormant during the winter which is simply not true. Bass feed year-long and using the right bass lures for cold water can help you catch a big bass this winter.
It is true that bass slow down and become lethargic when the water gets down into the 40s and 50s. However, their metabolism still requires them to feed during the cold months. That’s good news for anglers. The only difference from fall and winter is that bass tend to not chase for food. They are in energy conservation mode so they prefer meals that are easy and pack a lot of calories. To catch bass in cold water you’ll want a lure that looks bulky and isn’t very hard to catch.
Here is my list of the top bass lures for cold water.
The jerk bait is able to suspend and that makes it one of the top bass lures for cold water. As you slash the lure through the water, it looks like wounded baitfish and that attracts the attention of the bass. Then when that bait pauses it just sits there for the easy taking. That’s when the bass will eat it 99% of the time.
Fishing a jerkbait is not incredibly difficult to learn. Essentially, you tie it on with a non-slip loop knot and cast it out. Once you have the lure out where you want it, all you do is give the rod tip 3 or 4 good jerks and then stop. Let the lure sit still for a few seconds then repeat. The cadences of the way you work the lure are important and will have an impact on your success. The trick is to figure out what works by changing your jerk and pause cadence up until the fish start biting.
When the water temperature is down in the 40’s it may require a pause up to a full minute or so, which can feel like an eternity. That’s when I’ll give the rod tip some very subtle twitches during the pause. Many times a bass is just sitting there looking at the bait and that slight movement will trigger a strike.
You don’t need any real specific gear to fish a jerkbait. However (because there’s always a however), a sensitive rod can really help out. The bass will usually bite on the pause and when the line is slack and a sensitive rod will help you detect strikes better. To get away with not forking out cash for a good rod, keep a good eye on your line if you see it jump then set the hook. Also, holding the line in your hand can really help you feel when the bass takes the lure and I do this a lot with a jerk bait.
Also, I prefer to use fluorocarbon line as it sinks and it help hold the bait in the strike zone longer. Jerkbaits are generally neutrally buoyant but they tend to float a bit and the fluoro helps keep the lure down.
There are some lure modifications that will adjust the posture of your bait as it suspends. I have the most luck when the lures head is down a bit and the tail end is up. I have found that some of the cheaper jerk baits will not sit right when suspended. You can adjust how well a jerkbait suspends by adding larger split rings or hooks to the front. This will fine-tune lure and help keep optimal posture.
High-end jerkbaits like the Megabass Vision 110 and the Spro Mc Stick 110 work perfectly right out of the box. Those two jerkbaits are regarded as the best and are highly recommended by many Bassmaster Elite pros. Less expensive jerkbaits like the Strike King KVD Jerkbait works really well too but may require a bit of tuning.
This jig is just as effective and versatile in cold water. This is a big reason many pro anglers consider the jig as one of the top bass lures for cold water. It fits all the right characteristics a cold water lure should. It is bulky, it’s fished slow, and it stays on the bottom. Bass and other fish are often found on the bottom in deeper water during the cold months and the jig can get down to them.
The jig can be fished many different ways. But the most common way is to bounce or drag it along the bottom. Add a trailer to your jig will give it a larger profile. My favorite jigs are the Screwy Lewy football jigs. They come with the trailer already on them. I like the green pumpkin or the hot craw colors. There are many types of jigs, the best to use deep is the football jig. This jig has a good wobble and a lot of action even when it is worked slow.
During the winter, bass like to stay in deep water but will move shallow to feed. Bass like to have quick access to the deep water so look for them on deep points and ledges. A football jig worked along a point that quickly drops off is a great place to start. The deep side of a channel swing will usually hold bass in cold water.
Nothing too fancy for gear. You’ll want a fast action, medium heavy rod, that’s about 6’6″ to 7′ long. Spooled with 12-15 pound fluorocarbon or 56-60 pound braid. Just fish it along the bottom letting the shape of the head move the lure around. The football jig works best along hard rocky/gravel bottoms.
The jigging spoon is one of the least known bass lures for cold water. During the winter, jigging spoons, or “slabs” as some call it, are excellent lures capable of catching large bass. This lure is not hard to work either. All it takes is an up and down motion of the rod tip. There a few styles of jigging spoons available, but my favorite is the Bomber Slab in either white, chartreuse, or silver back (image above).
The only real challenge is finding the bass this time of year. This Scout article has some very useful tips on finding bass and using a jigging spoon. I have read in a lot of places that bass like steep shoreline areas and bluff walls in the winter. That may be true but I have a lot of luck finding them on long gradual points too. In that kind of scenario, I will cast out my spoon and work it back to the boat along the bottom. This method has worked really well while I was in Texas fishing in the highland reservoirs around the Central Texas region.
You don’t need anything fancy for this lure either. In fact, you can just use the same set-up as the football jig above. I actually tie this up on my spinning gear. This lure tends to fall fast through the water and will cause backlash when it suddenly stops on the bottom.
Cold water bass fishing might not be as fast paced as spring or fall fishing, but having a great day on the water is possible. Especially if you know the right bass lures to use for cold water. The jerkbait and the jig are well know lures for cold water bass fishing. But the jigging spoon could end up being your secret weapon. The real take away is that bass can be caught in cold water too. So while other anglers are at home trying to keep warm, you could be really heating things up out on the water this winter.
If you have some favorite lures or tips for catching bass in cold water, tell us about it by commenting below.