Falls pro picks by Tackle Warehouse

Bill Lowen’s Fall Lure Selection

This time of year allows Bill Lowen to enjoy the contemplative side of bass fishing – while mercilessly crushing freakish numbers of shad-hungry largemouth. “In the fall, a lot of guys are thinking about hunting more than fishing, so the lake is usually pretty peaceful,” he says. “Plus, the bass are keyed in on shad and are often holed up in shallow water, so they’re easy to catch. This kind of fishing is right up my alley.” Ever the power fisherman, Lowen looks to incite reaction strikes with a quartet of shad imitators in the backs of creeks and bays, where much of the lake’s bait is corralled. Here’s what Lowen uses to tag and bag hefty sacks of bass this month.

 

Tightlines UV Tube:

Lowen stresses that your baits and presentations should mimic shad, so he Texas rigs a 4-inch UV Tube with a 1/4-ounce Reins tungsten sinker and works it around visible cover such as stumps and laydowns. “The bass are really focused in on that shad migration, so I try to make this look like one by snapping it around rather than dragging it. I’m looking for a reaction bite.” Lowen snaps his tube with a 7-6 All Pro APX Elite flipping stick with 17-pound Trilene fluorocarbon.

Ima Square Bill:

Lowen designed this flat-sided crankbait for Ima because he wanted a big profile bait for crashing in and around cover. “The key for this is to crank it faster than you would a normal crankbait,” he says. “This makes it run more erratic than it does normally.” Lowen sticks with either a chartreuse/black back or bone or citrus shad hues to closely mimic the silvery forage. He throws them with a 7-foot, medium-heavy All Pro APX Elite crankin’ stick and 15-pound Trilene fluorocarbon.

D&L Tackle Bill Lowen’s Swim Jig:

“This may be the easiest way to catch a bass this time of year. If you can throw a spinnerbait, then you can throw this – and for me, a swim jig catches more fish,” he says. “Work it just how you do a spinnerbait: Throw it out and reel it in.” Lowen tosses a white or black-and-blue 1/4-ounce model tipped with a Tightlines UV grub on an All Pro Bill Lowen Signature Series Swim Jig rod. Regardless of water clarity, he always uses 30-pound braid.

D&L Baby Advantage jig:

Lowen likes this compact jig for its speedy falling action. He hops it around the same shallow cover as he does the tube. “Once again, this is great at getting a reaction bite.” He hangs a Tightlines UV Beaver on for maximum descent speed and appeal. Green pumpkin and white are his go-to colors. “Whatever you’re doing this time of year – be it cranking or flipping – it needs to be fast and about the reaction bite,” Lowen says.

Flipping Fall Bass With Todd Faircloth

The Enegizer Bunny and B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro Todd Faircloth share a common trait. While the bunny keeps on ticking, Faircloth keeps on flipping. He never winds down – cast after cast, short, methodical, thorough. Faircloth is like a well-oiled machine as he eases along a grassline. He has full confidence that bass are clustered somewhere in this green cover, and sooner or later he’ll find them. When he does, he knows he can “get well” in a hurry. This is a classic warm month pattern, right? Absolutely, but it’s not exclusive to the hot season. Faircloth, of Jasper, Texas, says on many lakes, bass linger in the vegetation into late autumn. “I’ve caught ’em flipping grasslines in December on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn and Lake Amistad,” he attests. “Now I may not get as many bites flipping the grass this time of year , but I’ll get enough to keep things interesting, and the average size fish I catch will be big – 3 to 4 pounds.” This is why other anglers should keep this pattern on the front burner as fall progresses. This time of year most people gravitate to the backs of creeks where shad are working. But Faircloth knows from experience that deep grasslines still hold some good bass this time of year, and he will usually have these fish all to himself. Here is how he racks up some hefty catches when the air is cooling, the leaves are turning and the fish are gorging themselves in anticipation of the cold months ahead.

 

Location:

“In Texas lakes, I’m usually fishing grasslines in 8 to 20 feet of water, and the water color is clear to slightly stained,” Faircloth begins. “The grass usually quits growing at the edge of some sort of dropoff – a creek, ditch, underwater point, etc. The fish travel along these contour breaks, and they use the grass as cover. So anglers should look for contour changes with grass growing on them.” More specifically, Faircloth looks both visually and electronically for places where a grassline turns or makes a point. “These bends and points are the most likely places for the bass to concentrate,” he notes. “They’re natural ambush places where they can hide in the cover and watch for forage fish to swim by.” He adds, “Sometimes the grass will be matted up on the surface. Other times it’ll be growing to within 2 to 3 feet of the surface, but you can still see it . In both cases, you can find the prime spots just by looking. These are the best conditions for fishing this pattern. “But other times when the grass is a little deeper, you have to depend on your graph to see it and to follow the breaks. Still, the same rules apply. You want to work the edges of the grassbeds and focus mainly on those points and turns in the cover.”

Lure Selection:

To do this, Faircloth flips a 1 to 1.5 ounce All-Terrain Tackle Grassmaster jig mated with a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog trailer. His go-to colors are a black/blue jig and a watermelon Hog. He explains, “Bass holding in these deep grasslines in the fall are mainly feeding on bluegill, and this color combination matches this prey species.” Faircloth picks his jig size based on water clarity. “The clearer the water, the faster I want my bait to fall, so the heavier the jig I’ll use. I’m looking for a reaction bite with this presentation. I don’t want the fish to have much time to study the bait. Instead, I want it dropping by them fast so they have to make a split-second decision on whether or not to bite it. I believe this is the best way to trigger strikes in clear water ,” Faircloth says.

Presentation:

As he slides along, Faircloth makes a new pitch every 4 to 5 feet, over and over, always just ahead of his boat’s bow. When he pitches into the grass, he lets his jig free spool to the bottom. When it hits, he engages his reel, hops it once or twice, then reels it back up quickly and makes the next pitch. He says 90 percent of his bites come on the first drop he makes into a new spot. He calls this technique “speed flipping.” He says, “I don’t spend a lot of time looking for individual fish. Instead, I’m looking for groups of fish. If I can find a group clustered together in one small area, I can load up in a hurry.” Faircloth adds, “It’s amazing how much water you can cover fishing like this, and this is what you have to do. You just keep working those grass edges and searching until you hit a place where some bass are holding. You might go a long way without a bite, then you’ll hit an area the size of a pickup truck where the bass will be gathered up. This is what you’re looking for. This is where you can put together a good limit in just a few minutes.” Faircloth continues, “When you hook a fish, you need to land it and get your bait back in the same spot as fast as you can. When you catch one, it’s important to keep the bite going. If you’re fishing with a partner, he needs to get his bait in there quickly. It’s commonplace to get a double in this situation.”

How Gerald Swindle Fishes The Football Season

Fall is the favorite time of the year for bass fishing’s funniest man, Gerald Swindle. The former waterbug-quick Locust Fork High School running back and kick returner finds peace in a tree stand following a long Bassmaster Elite Series season, and he finds bass returning to a variety of shallow water patterns where he enjoys catching them most. Not to mention, Swindle makes his home in the heart of college football’s Southeastern Conference, and that always leads to a truckload of smack talk debates with his fellow football lovin’ brothers of bass.

 

Late October:

How to Catch ‘Em: “It’s spinnerbait time, and there ain’t a more fun lure out there at this time of year. After fishing slow and deep all summer long, I finally get to go to the back of a creek and cast a spinnerbait,” says Swindle. “I’m throwing a spinnerbait to match the shad they’re feeding on, and I’m not expecting to catch a school of 5-pounders, but I know I’m going to catch a bunch of fish, with a few 3 or 4 pounders mixed in. You can catch them from a wide variety of habitat, ranging from laydown trees to riprap.” Equipment: 20-pound Sunline shooter spooled on a Quantum SL100SPT 6.3:1 Smoke reel.

Early November:

How to Catch ‘Em: “The bass are transitioning to rocks, because rocks hold heat even during the cooler nights of late fall,” says the Warrior, Ala., pro. “This is the time when shallow square-bill crankbaits like the RC 1.5 shine. I may start my day toward the back of the creek, but my main focus will be mid-way toward the front of the creek on all rocky banks and riprap shorelines.” Equipment: Swindle makes an interesting note that while he loves the slower 5.3:1 Quantum Cranking Classic reel in the spring and summer, speedier reels like a 6.3:1 Energy PT simply seem to trigger more strikes with shallow crankbaits during football season.

Late November:

How to Catch ‘Em: “The water is getting cold enough that they aren’t chasing cranks and spinnerbaits as much as they were earlier in the fall. So instead, the jig comes into play,” says, the 2004 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. “I’m going to pitch a 3/8-ounce jig to brush around shallow docks, rip rap or laydowns.” Equipment: Swindle says he uses a 3/8-ounce jig 90 percent of the time because it has the right rate of fall, descending just slow enough in colder water.

Early January:

How to Catch ‘Em: “I’m going to look for as many sun-drenched rocky banks on a creek channel swing as I can find,” says Swindle with arrow straight focus. “Even in the South, the water will likely be in the high 40s or low 50s, so I’m gonna’ drag that same 3/8-ounce Arkie jig from the rocky, sunny shoreline out to 15 or 20 feet deep where the creek channel kisses the bank. I’m just dragging it along the bottom until a bass picks up on it. It’s key to maintain constant feel and bottom contact.” Equipment: Swindle stresses using a quality rod like the 7-foot, 4-inch Quantum EXO that affords ultra-sensitive feel for bites that are sure to be passive and feather-light in early winter’s cold water.

Jeff Kriet Changes Gears For Fall Bass

Jeff Kriet has a reputation for staying put. The Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Oklahoma knows how to find bass, and once he finds them he has little trouble putting them in the boat. When it comes to finesse tactics or catching suspended bass, he has few equals. That’s why it’s something of a surprise that he completely changes his ways when it comes to fall bassing.

 

Location:

Kriet focuses his attentions on the backs of creeks and pockets, flats and windy banks, but what he’s really looking for is shad. “The shad could be almost anywhere, but those are the high percentage places to look,” he adds. “I like areas that have a channel nearby so the bass have some deep water access, but the bass are going to be near the bait.”

Lure Selction:

“I usually like to fish really slowly,” he says, “but fall is the one time that I want to cover a lot of water, and my favorite way to do it is by burning a spinnerbait.” That’s another departure for the affable eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. Fall is one of few times that he ever ties on a spinnerbait, preferring a lipless or square bill crankbait when bass are in thin water. “A big part of this pattern is the right bait,” Kriet says. “My favorite spinnerbait for this tactic is a 1/2-ounce Sebile Pro-Shad Finesse Spinnerbait in Holo Greenie. It’s a terrific shad imitation, and the bait performs like no other on the market because it’s compact, has a unique blade design and works great in clear water, which we have a lot of at this time of year.” The blades on the Sebile spinnerbait have the outline of a baitfish, and they’re small enough that they provide little “lift.” That keeps the lure under the water even at high retrieve speeds. The compactness of the bait allows Kriet to make long casts and cover lots of water. “It’s a very natural looking bait, and that means a lot in clear water,” he says. “It’s important to match your spinnerbait to the shad, so a natural color is key. I think the blades on the Sebile make a difference, too.”

Lure Presentation:

Because he’s making long casts (and may have to set the hook from long range) and retrieving very fast (which can result in short strikes), Kriet likes a trailer hook on his fall spinnerbaits. It can dramatically cut down on missed bass. “I’m moving fast and covering lots of water, but I want to keep my bait in the strike zone, so I like to move in close to the bank and make parallel casts that keep me in the productive zone as much of the cast as possible. “I also like to give the bait some added action,” Kriet says. “While I’m reeling it in, I’m also twitching and moving my rod tip a lot to throw a little slack in the line and make the bait pause and flutter. Sometimes that makes all the difference.” Kriet’s fall pattern is not without its caveats. “If the bass aren’t cooperating,” he says, “I’m going to put that spinnerbait down fast and go to something else. When they’re on it, it’s fantastic – there’s no better way to catch them in the fall. But don’t go out there and push it for four hours waiting for something to happen. I don’t fish this pattern unless I know it’s the deal.”

Kriet’s Fall Gear:

When burning a spinnerbait, Kriet opts for 15-pound-test Hi-Seas Fluorocarbon line spooled on an Abu Garcia Revo casting reel (7:1 gear ratio) mounted on a Falcon swim jig or Falcon Eakins Jig rod. The jig rods have just the action that Kriet likes for spinnerbaiting.

Fishing a Jig in the Cold of winter by Dan Wells

Fishing the Jig in the cold of winter by Dan Wells.

 

 

Jigs will catch fish 12 months out of the year however the cold water period is when a jig can really shine! When the water temps are at their lowest during the winter many bass only eat once every few days and they prefer a meal they don’t have to work hard for and provides a large amount of protein, what better then a slow moving crawdad. A jig mimics a crawdad better than any other lure!

Winter fishing with jigs will take place from 5’ to 50’ of water so you need to be prepared with a few different weights. 3/8, ½, and 1 oz will do fine. As a rule and to keep it simple use the 3/8oz jig from 1’ to 20’, 1/2 oz 20’ to 40’, and the 1oz from 40’ and deeper. Having the right tools for the job are critical. In clear lakes I use 12lb fluorocarbon line and in extremely clear water I will go to 10lb fluoro. When fishing Clear Lake I use 15lb fluoro because the water is usually more off colored and there is heavy cover present. A high speed 7;1 gear ratio reel is critical so you can pick up slack line fast and keep pressure on big fish that are hooked in deep water. The right rod is just as important as the line and reel. For my 3/8oz jigs fished to 20’ of water I use a Dobyns 734C Champion casting rod and for the 1/2oz and larger jigs fished in deep water I use a Dobyns DX 784C ML casting rod. The DX 784C ML rod is 5” longer then the 734C rod and this will help move more line on a deep water hook set, both rods have a fast action which allows the rod to react very quickly for hook sets and working the jig.

There are a million different colored jigs out there and they all catch fish but again I try to keep it simple with my colors. Brown, Brown/Purple, Green Pumpkin and Black Blue are about the only colors I use and they cover almost every situation you will come across. My number one go to jig is a 1/2oz Brown/Purple football jig, this jig is very versatile and will catch fish on every body of water there is!

There are 3 types of retrieves I will use in the winter. Dragging (slow movements with the rod tip in a downward angle, or using the trolling motor to drag the jig in a certain depth), small hops or shaking (using the rod tip in short popping movements and letting the jig rest back on the bottom) and stroking ( fast sharp hops similar to a hook set then letting the jig rest back to the bottom). You will have to experiment with all three retrieves daily to find what the fish have keyed in on or what mood they are in. There will often be a certain cadence that fish will key on and respond to better then another.

Use your electronics to find what depth the bass are holding at best and concentrate on that depth. Once you have a determined depth then try different types of banks and cover( mud, small rock, boulders, 45 degree banks, etc) soon you will have a pattern developed to start targeting larger bass.

In winter I really focus my search for bass on deep main lake features such as points, ledges, humps and creek channels. Start fishing your jig shallow and work your way deeper till you begin to get bit. When a little warming trend moves in and settles for a few days I will start fishing creek channels that go from main lake areas into pockets and deeper flats that the fish will move on to and feed.

Jig Tips. Use scent! I have been using the BIOEDGE crawdad potion and I have noticed my number of bites go up. In Cold water apply scent often to help attract sluggish bass. If you are fishing a lake with little cover in it you can thin a few strands out of the weed guard and spread it with your fingers to help with hook ups and if your jig ever feels funny or a little heavier than normal, SET THE HOOK! Colors can be confusing and if you are not sure exactly sure what the fish are keyed on and what the crayfish look like, just match the bottom color the best you can, this will give a good starting point. One more thing to remember when fishing a jig in the winter is to experiment with different trailers on your jig and if the water gets real cold, say in the 48 degree and lower range try a pork trailer. You can’t fish a jig to slow and often large bass are caught on jigs while barely moving them or even dead sticking them.

Good Luck out there and stay warm!

Dan Wells

 

Winter Delta Fishing Tips

As fall comes to an end winter arrives right on time on the California Delta!

     There comes a point when you can feel fall is over and early winter is here. This will usually happen in the first week of December.The key factor is the morning temperatures. When you get your first freeze on your window and the roof tops are icy winter has arrived! The water temps will be in the mid 50’s but begin to drop, this is a great time to fish the Delta!  You must use caution at this time of year as the fog can be very thick and dangerous so be carefull.

     At this point in the year the bass will be slowing down and become less active. This is a great time to get out your jerk baits to entice lazy bass to come up and strike your baits. Shallow diving baits with a 3-6 foot diving depth will be best like a IMA Flit 100 and 120. You must work your baits slowly and use long pauses in your retreives. You will catch many quality fish on the outside of weedlines. Look in dead end sloughs,marinas and large bays for best success.  Use 12lb flourocarbon line for no strech and instant hookups. For colors choose your colors according to the sky you have on winter days. On cloudy foggy days try the Boned shad, on clear and sunny days try silver  flash and matte bluegill.

This winter get out to the Delta get your jerkbait tied on and go chase those bass!

Good Luck!

 

 

 

 

 

Swimming Bass Jigs with Kevin VanDam – Bass pro shop


Swimming Bass Jigs with Kevin VanDam

Winter Bass Tips From Bass Angler Magazine

 

By Marc Marcantonio

What kind of fool leaves the comfort of home to brave bone-chilling winter weather?  Face it, to most sane people winter bass fishing means catching reruns of Bill Dance on cable.  Even the few, the proud, and the brave venture out only once or twice before retreating to a forced-air furnace and plate of steaming spaghetti.

Nobody likes pasta better than I, and some may believe the Chianti explains why I spend much of wintertime on the water.  Personally, I believe TIVO and VCR’s were invented so guys like me can go fishing even when the “catching” is questionable.

If you can’t enjoy an outing unless you “limit by nine” in the morning, then your winter bass fishing should entail a trip south of the border.  On the other hand, if you enjoy solitude, and like to learn even when not catching bass, then read on.  Winter fishing rewards are small and big at the same time.  Fishing is frequently tough, but has its good points too.  You don’t need to get up prior to the crack of dawn, and there are no annoying crowds at the ramp, or on the water.  No PWC’s or skiers to dodge.  Chances are good you and I will be the only fools in sight.

Take advantage of the lack of prying eyes to carefully study all of the fishing spots where you did well earlier in the year.  Analyze the terrain, structure and cover.  Look for clues why those locations attracted bass in the first place.  Study the bottom composition, the shape of its features, and any other indication why this spot is different than all the others that didn’t hold bass throughout the year.  Many lakes have low water levels in the winter, in preparation for the spring rains.  This is a golden opportunity to check out structure that you should be fishing the rest of the year.  I always bring a handheld Lowrance Expedition C GPS, and my camera.

After visiting multiple locations that produced bass for you in the past, you will likely see a pattern develop.  The pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together when you notice that a three-foot high mound of rocks in eight-feet of water on a sandy point produced bass in three locations in the same lake.  Once you notice common traits about the good spots, continue searching throughout the winter to find as many similar spots as you can.  Record these GPS coordinates in your Lowrance.  These will be your hot spots next season!  You will be surprised at what you can learn, and lessons learned this way will teach you how to be a better fisherman in years to come.

There is no better time to learn how your electronics work than during the winter.  Since you don’t want to generate wind chill by running all over the lake in your high-speed bass boat, this is the perfect opportunity to sit in one spot and actually read your sonar manual.  Today’s electronics like my Lowrance LCX38cHD sonar and GPS unit allow anyone to operate them right out of the box with no instruction, but if you read the manual and practice changing settings on the water, you will learn skills that put bass in your livewell over and over.   This is a great time to learn how to put overlay data on each screen, such as water temperature, battery voltage, and local time.  Use sonar in conjunction with an underwater camera, and really learn what the image on the sonar screen is showing.  Practice following the steps in the manual for marking the rock pile you found and save its location with your GPS.  It works much better than putting an X on the side of your boat when you are over the spot.

Winter fishing is the only time of the year that I prefer NOT taking a beginner with me.  Many come unprepared for the weather, which results in a shortened day.  Worst yet, when they aren’t catching bass they can make it tough on both anglers.  The hardest thing to teach anyone is how to feel a bite.  In the summer this key skill is easy to teach because aggressive bass freight-train the lure and practically rip the rod out of a beginner’s hand.  In the winter just the opposite is true.  I’m convinced that most anglers, including myself, don’t catch as many bass in the winter because we don’t feel the bite, so we never set the hook.  Lethargic cold-blooded bass don’t move far or fast to inhale a lure, so if you have the slightest slack in your line you may never detect a winter bite.  This is why vertical presentations excel during the winter.  Dropshotting, Shakey Heads, Spooning, and Doodling are all tools that get the job done when the bite is difficult to detect.  My single best tip for winter bass fishing is to focus on keeping your line straight from your rod tip to your lure.  This is the only way you can feel the lightest of bites.  If the wind is moving your boat, or you move your boat with your electric motor, you create bends in your line that absorb the feel of a light bite.  Even if your sinker or lure snakes its way to the bottom instead of dropping perfectly straight, you will not catch as many bass.  Fluorocarbon line like Sugoi or low-stretch copolymer McCoy also help to feel the bite.

Winter anglers compound their ability to detect light bites by not preparing for nasty weather.  If you are shivering, hungry, and miserable, how can you possibly expect to feel Mama Pesce holding your plastic worm in 60 feet of water?  Even a high-modulus Lamiglas rod can’t help you when you are questioning your sanity instead of focusing on the bite.  Layer your clothing, starting with silk or polypropylene long johns, and then wool clothing topped off with a down vest or insulated bib overalls.  Wear waterproof pants and parka to protect from rain and wind, and bring several pairs of gloves including wool fingerless and neoprene gloves.

Extra hand towels come in handy to dry your hands and gear, and chemical hand warmers are inexpensive and easy to store for the really cold days.  For some reason food always tastes better on a winter fishing day, so bring plenty.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to prepare and store, are satisfyingly filling, and produce high energy.  My favorite snacks are XS Energy bars that I get from www.wilcoxmarketing.com.  Hot soup, cocoa, or coffee are luxuries that you will be glad you didn’t forget to pack.

Winter fishing demands extra preparation for the sake of safety.  Hypothermia and shock can be fatal.  In addition to a first aid kit and signal flares, be sure to have an extra set of warm dry clothes stored in a waterproof bag in your boat.  If you fall overboard and manage to get yourself back into your boat, those towels and extra clothes will save your life.  Naturally a cell phone is important to have to call for help when needed, either for yourself or someone you may come upon that needs help.

Speaking of falling overboard, you increase your risk when you are wearing bulky clothing that restricts your mobility.  As difficult as it is to move around on your boat, imagine how hard it is to move when you are overboard and all that clothing is heavy with water.  Never go out on the water during the winter without wearing a quality Personal Floatation Device (PFD), aka Lifejacket.

A ladder is worth its weight in gold if you do fall out of your boat.  The problem has been that many ladders seriously detract from the looks of a bassboat, and they are often in the way.  My Ranger is equipped from the factory with the new E-Ladder, which attaches to the jackplate.  Here it is out of the way but always ready when you need it.  If your current rig doesn’t have a ladder, consider installing one.  Should you find yourself in the water without a ladder, grab the side of your boat and work your way to the engine.  Then stand on the cavitation plate, and press the trim and tilt button on the engine to raise yourself out of the water.  It is easy then to climb into onto the transom.

Yes, the weather can be brutal when bass fishing in the winter.  Some days you wake and look out the window and decide to crawl back under the sheets.  But every winter I enjoy some of my best days of the year, and learn the most.  The weather may be miserable, but I’m not working and I have the entire lake to myself.  Ciao.  You can reach me at LimitBy9@aol.com.

This article is brought to you by Bass Angler magazine. Read more like this by subscribing to the print edition.  Click here to Subscribe Now and enter code XM003 for a discount on a one or two year subscription.

Reproduced from Bass Angler Magazine

Prepare for the worst in winter by Randy Walker

Prepare for the worst in winter by Randy Walker

Winter fishing can have its ups and downs wherever you live. Fishing can be great for specific species and horrible for others. It could be pouring rain or the sun high in the sky, wind calm or blowing 30 plus…weather conditions can change on you in an instant and situations can happen in an instant.

So, your sitting in your garage the night before your trip getting everything in order for your next day trip…checking oil/gas levels, tires, getting your favorite winter time lures and rods paired up and maybe even taking a peek at your GPS or a map…but do you make sure you have an extra set of clothes on board?

This is something that I think many anglers don’t even take into consideration, which is a huge mistake in my opinion. There are many things that can ruin a day of fishing, and falling out of the boat into cold water and even colder air temps is one of them. After having a buddy of mine fall out of my boat one cold January morning, I always have an extra set of clothes on the boat. Getting dry clothes on your body as soon as possible is not only more comfortable for the unlucky person that takes a winter dip, but it can also be a huge assistance to the health of that person and begin the body/blood warming process. This is something that is so easy to do…grab an extra pair of sweats, a shirt and/or sweater/jacket, socks, and shoes…this can make a world of difference for you or your partner if falling victim to this situation. There’s even a “chance” of hypothermia…

Usually, everyone thinks about hypothermia occurring in extremely cold temps, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It can happen anytime that you are exposed to cool and damp conditions and older people are more susceptible to it. The key hypothermia symptom is an internal body temp below 95 degrees (normal body temp is 98.6), now since it is not a normal thing to carry a thermometer on the boat, there are other symptoms that you can actually see or notice:

  • Uncontrollable shivering (although, at extremely low body temperatures, shivering may stop)
  • Weakness and loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Pale and cold skin
  • Drowsiness – especially in more severe stages
  • Slowed breathing or heart rate
  • Slowing of pace, drowsiness, fatigue
  • Stumbling
  • Thickness of Speech
  • Amnesia
  • Irrationality, poor judgment
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of perceptual contact with environment
  • Blueness of skin
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Decreased heart and respiration
  • Stupor
  • Death

Although you may never have a situation get this far because you would most likely leave the water and head back to the warm truck before many of these ever occur, but why not take the extra precaution and pack for the risk…good luck fishing…and stay dry! Randy Walker

All about Large Mouth Bass

SENSES: Largemouth bass have the five major senses common to most animals: hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. They have another sense, the lateral line, which is a series of sensitive nerve endings that extends from just behind the gill to the tail on each side of the fish. The lateral line can pick up underwater vibrations as subtle as a swimming baitfish. Largemouth bass hear with external ears located within the skull. They may be attracted by the ticking or popping sound of some artifical lures. But when they hear loud unfamiliar sounds, they usually swim to deeper water or cover. Bass can see in all directions, except directly below or behind. In clear water, they can see 30 feet or more. But in most bass waters, visibility is limited to 5 to 10 feet. Largemouths can also see objects that are above water. Largemouths smell through nostrils, or nares, on the snout. The nares are small passageways through which water is drawn and expelled without entering the throat. Like most fish, bass can detect minute amounts of scent in the water. Bass use their sense of touch to determine whether to reject or swallow an object. Sense of taste is not important to largemouth bass as it is to some fish species, because bass have few taste cells in their mouths.

FEEDING: Newly-hatched largemouths feed heavily on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton until the bass reach 2 inches in length. Young largemouths eat insects and small fish, including smaller bass. Adult largemouths prey mostly on fish, but crayfish, frogs and insects are important foods in some waters. Wherever they live, bass rank high in the aquatic food chain. A bass 10 inches or longer has few enemies and will eat almost anything it can swallow. Because of its large mouth and flexible stomach, a bass can eat prey nearly half its own length. Bass inhale small foods. The bass opens its mouth quickly to suck in water and the food. It then forces the water out the gills while it either swallows or rejects the object. Bass usually grab large prey, then turn the food to swallow it headfirst. As the water warms, the metabolism of bass increases and they feed more often. Largemouths seldom eat at water temperatures below 50 degrees. From 50 to 60 degrees, feeding increases and from 68 to 80 degrees, they feed heavily. However, at temperatures above 80 degrees, feeding declines.

GROWTH: The amount bass grow in a year depends on the length of their growing season, or the number of days suitable for growth. The growing season in the south may last twice as long as it does in the north. Largemouths gain weight most quickly in water from 75 to 80 degrees. They do not grow in water colder than 50 degrees. Although bass in the south grow and mature faster, they rarely live as long as largemouths in colder, northern lakes. In southern waters, bass occasionally reach 10 years of age; in northern waters, bass may live as long as 15 years. Female bass live longer than males, so they are more apt to reach a trophy size. In one study, 30 percent of the females were 5 years or older, while only 9 percent of the males were 5 years or more.

SPAWNING: In spring, when inshore waters reach about 60 degrees, largemouth bass swim onto spawning grounds in shallow bays, backwaters, channels and other areas protected from prevailing winds. Spawning grounds usually have firm bottoms of sand, gravel, mud or rock. Bass seldom nest on thick layer of silt. Some spawning areas are in open water; others have sparse weeds, boulders or logs. Male bass may spend several days selecting their nest sites. The beds are usually in 1 to 4 feet of water, but may be deeper in clear water. The males seldom nest where they can see other nesting males. For this reason, beds are generally at least 30 feet apart, but may be closer if weeds, boulders, sunken logs or stumps prevent the males from seeing each other. Largemouths spawn when the water reaches 63 to 68 degrees and temperatures remain within this range for several days. Cold fronts may cause water temperatures to drop, which interrupts and delays spawning. A female bass lays from 2000 to 7000 eggs per pound of body weight. She may deposit all of her eggs in one nest or drop them at several different sites before leaving the spawning grounds. After spawning, the female recuperates in deep water, where she does not eat for 2 to 3 weeks. Alone on the nest the male hovers above the eggs, slowly fanning them to keep off the silt and other debris. He does not eat while guarding the eggs, but will attack other fish that swim near the nest. Sunfish often prey on bass eggs or newly hatched fry. In waters with large sunfish populations, the panfish can seriously hamper bass reproduction. Bass eggs hatch in only 2 days at 72 degrees, but take 5 days at 67 degrees. Cold weather following spawning will delay hatching. If the shallows drop to 50 degrees, the fry will not emerge for 13 days. At lower temperatures, the eggs will fail to develop. A severe cold front sometimes causes males to abandon the nest, resulting in a complete loss of eggs or fry. From 2000 to 12,000 eggs hatch from the typical nest. Of these, only 5 to 10 are likely to survive to reach 10 inches in length.

4 seasons of a Bass

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT BASS LOCATION: Bass are cold blooded creatures, meaning that their body temperature is directly related to the temperature of the water in which they swim. Thus the temperature of the water can have a great deal of impact on where bass will be and how active they are on any given day. In general, bass in most lakes and reservoirs are most active when the water ranges from approximately 60 to 85 degrees. Bass will be less active in colder or warmer water. In cold weather, bass will usually seek out the warmest water they can find, provided they don’t have to move too far to find it. The amount of cover ( weeds, rocks, submerged wood, etc. ) that exists in the water varies dramatically from one lake to the next. Some lakes are full of weeds, others have acres of standing timber, still others appear barren, with little visible cover at all. The amount, location and type of cover available to the bass will also help determine its location at any given time during the year. Cover is not as important to smallmouth bass as it is to largemouths, and is important to spotted bass only at certain times of the year. Perhaps most important, the bass is driven to new locations throughout the four seasons by its need for food and procreation. Bass will move to certain areas for spawning. Other areas may better serve their forage needs. Bass do not migrate in the same sense that waterfowl do. An individual bass may not move a great distance during the course of the year; rather, bass try to locate in areas where all their seasonal needs can be met without traveling long distances. Some species of bass inhabit different depth zones than others. Largemouth bass, in most bodies of water, are shallow water creatures much of the year. Smallmouth bass spend most of their time deeper than largemouths. Spotted bass have been tracked at depths of 100 feet, but will also inhabit shallow water during the course of the year.

SEASONAL LARGEMOUTH BASS LOCATION: Winter. In most bodies of water, the largemouth bass will locate near the deepest parts of the lake, but usually not in extremely deep water. Many bass will navigate to the main lake and hold around bluffs, channel ledges and channel banks, and the ends and sides of deeper points. Food is not a tremendous factor driving largemouth bass location during the winter months; bass consume far less forage in cold water than in warm water, and digestion takes much longer as well. Finding the warmest possible water can be a major key to largemouth location now. Early Spring. The slowly rising temperature of the water and the lengthening daylight period are cues to largemouth bass that they should begin moving shallower. Look for ditches, channel banks, stump or fencerows and other structures leading from deep to shallow water in the prespawn period; these serve as pathways along which bass make a move to their spring locations. Largemouths seldom stay in shallow water for extended lengths of time in early spring; rather they hold where deep and shallow water meet and make short feeding forays into shallower areas. Breaklines are critical structures during the prespawn period; here largemouths have access to both deep and shallow water only a few feet apart. By locating over a breakline, a dropoff at the end of a big flat from 25 to 8 feet in depth, the bass can hold in deep water when less active and travel up into the shallows to feed. Determining the timing of these short, infrequent feeding movements is critical to fishing success; check them several times throughout the course of the day. Spring Spawn. Largemouth bass prefer to spawn in shallow water. They often bed in coves and tributaries protected from the chilling effects of a harsh north wind. The nest will usually be no deeper than the depth at which sunlight can penetrate to incubate the eggs; this is seldom deeper than 4 feet. Bass like a hard bottom condition for spawning, as opposed to mud or silt. But these fish are highly adaptable, they have been known to spawn in the tops of submerged stumps and on old tires. Post Spawn. After spawning, many largemouth bass reverse their movements along ditches, channel banks and other migration routes and move back out to deeper channel structures. However, if there is sufficient cover in shallow water, they may not move far and may stay quite close to their spawning grounds for extended periods. Summer. Convex structure: humps, rockpiles, saddles and the like is a major key to largemouth location in summer. Bass will locate on these structures and tend to move shallow or deeper on them as their mood dictates. Many largemouths will move into shallower water at night to feed. In reservoirs without much current movement, stratification occurs in hot weather. Lower layers of the lake may be poor in dissolved oxygen. any flow, however insignificant, can increase dissolved oxygen levels and stack up largemouth bass; check for schools to be holding around channel drop offs and ledges. Fall. Largemouths tend to follow their forage more in the fall than in other months, which can make them hard to locate. Rather than relating to structural breaklines or objects, they may be out in open water, chasing big schools of shad. Largemouth bass binge feed in the fall. Food is plentiful and they take advantage of the best feeding opportunities. Often small, scattered groups of bass suspend offshore or hold at the ends of long mainlake points waiting for the right opportunity to bust a big school of baitfish. These feeding binges often occur 2 or 3 times a day at scattered intervals.

Winter Bass Fishing Tips

 

Winter: (1) Water Conditions – During this season, water will be 45 degrees or 
colder over much of the country except the deep South, and usually fairly clear. (2) Bass Location – Most bass will be schooled in deep holding areas at this time, although they may make occasional forays into shallow water along major migration routes. Winter bass prefer vertical holding areas such as bluffs, submerged trees and deep creek channels, rather than the sloping areas of shallows, flats, etc. The reason is that they can adjust to light and temperature changes simply by ascending or descending, rather than making a more strenuous horizontal migration. (3) Water Depth – Varies according to structure, water temperature and water clarity, but most bass hold at 18 to 30 feet or deeper. (4) Lure Choices – The pig-and-jig or a jig with some other sort of dressing is the top wintertime choice in many areas. Jigging spoons can also be successful, and modified jerkbaits work in some areas. (5) Tactics – Start medium-shallow and gradually work deep until you locate fish. Work the vertical areas such as submerged timber, bluffs, etc. Look for bass to be suspended there or just off the edges or drops of the creek channels. Bounce a pig-and-jig slowly down a bluff wall until you locate the depth where fish are holding; then fish similar patterns at that depth. A jigging spoon fished vertically in the treetops for suspended bass may also be effective. Jerkbaits modified by adding shot to give them neutral buoyancy can be cranked down to suspended bass, then stopped. Even lethargic fish will often hit the lures as they sit motionless in the water.

Winter Bass Fishing?

Winter fishing? ” by Dan Wells”

UUGGGHHH! Just try it, you might be surprised.

Winters is almost here and so are freezing mornings. If you can handle the cold temps and cold boat rides there is some great fishing and lots of open water ahead of you.

The first thing to remember is to slow down, you can still catch reaction fish and power fish, but you’re going to have to slow down. First thing is lure selection; I like to keep it simple 1. Jig  2. Dart head and drop shot 3. Heavy spinner baits 4. Suspending rip baits . These are my confidence baits, but maybe not yours and that’s ok, these are just mine.

We’ll talk about clear lake just so we have a familiar place. I always look for bait and a break line (depth is always relative) and if there’s a rock pile or deep dock, great!  This is an area that will hold fish in stable cold conditions. I fish these areas the most with the jig and darthead slowly picking apart any piece of cover I can find. I keep colors simple, green pumpkin, black/blue, and brown/purple. A good tip to use if you’re not sure on color, match the bottom.

Now if we get one of those slight warming trends I’ll start early on deep flats with the suspending ripbait in your favorite color using long pauses. The whole time looking for a small break line or anything different to target. When that bite dies and the skies get high, back to the deep structure. When the sun warms the water a little in the afternoon I’m back on the flats working from deep to shallow with the heavy blade just slow rolling looking for a pod of fish. My favorite color this time of year is white on white and I almost work my blade like a jig with a “stop and go” and “bump the stump” action. These reaction baits will also work if we get a little front coming through (works great around big spots).

Remember on clear lake that fish will move around from deep to shallow with just a little increase in water temp, so in the afternoons look for a couple extra degrees in the water where there is direct sunlight up on a flat.

I hope I have given you a starting point for winter fishing, and that it helps get you a couple extra tugs! Feel free to ask me any questions you might have and good luck out there.

GET THE NET!

10 Winter Bass Hot spots

Winter can be an awesome time to fish for bass, provided you key on places where these game fish are most likely to hang out. You can increase your odds of bagging a giant bass during the coldest months by focusing on these hot spots. Secondary Points:”Points at the mouths of reservoir tributaries are obvious structures, which accounts for them getting hammered to death by anglers,” says Mike Iaconelli. “In winter, I spend more time fishing secondary points instead. These are smaller points occurring within the first quarter or third of the tributary arm that are usually overlooked by other fisherman.”

Lure Choice: *Suspending jerkbait *Shaky head worm *Jig

Shallow Wood In Murky Lakes:

“When visibility is less than a foot, expect bass to be shallow, regardless of how cold the water is, as long as they have wood cover to hide in,” says Jason Quinn. “If you get into the heart of the cover with your lure, you’ll catch bass on the coldest, nastiest winter days.”

Lure Choice: *Squared Billed Crank bait *Jigs

Creek Channel’s:

Most weekend bass anglers are bank beater, but in the dead of winter your best shot at a reservoir lunker maybe where the old creek channel meanders far from shore. Here, lunker largemouth hold near stumps, submerged logs and rocks, waiting for the occasional baitfish school or crawdad to pass by.

Lure Choice: *Deep diving crankbait

Rock Bluffs:

“Bass will relate to mainlake rock bluffs in winter, sometimes at extreme depths,” says Aaron Martens. “They’ll often suspend off these vertical structures around baitfish schools. If the bass are positioned shallow, a diving crankbait will catch them. For deeper fish, park over them and vertical jig a spoon or fish parallel to the bluff with a fast sinking metal blade bait or tailspinner.”

Lure Choice: *Crankbait *Jigging Spoon *Blade bait *Tailspinner

Submerged Roadbeds:

“Roadbeds are especially productive in winter because they provide great cover for crayfish,” explains pro Charlie Ingram. “Concentrate not only on the top, but also on the sides of the structure. Before a creek or river was flooded to form a reservoir, trees lining the sides of roads that were destined to be submerged were usually lopped off and hauled away, leaving stumps and rick rubble behind.”

Lure Choice: *Carolina rigged lizard *Crankabait *Plastic craw *Finesse jig

Last Living Weeds:

Many anglers don’t realize that the bass’ love affair with milfoil, coontail, hydrilla and other aquatic grasses extends past summer into the winter months. “In winter, I always look for the last living patches of submerged grass,” notes Scott Rook. “Often large numbers of bass will cluster into a little weeds patch, attracted by the concealment, forage opportunities and oxygen it provides.”

Lure Choice: *Crankbait *Plastic Craw *Creature bait

Sloping Banks:

Sloping banks or “45 degree banks” are reliable places to bag a quick limit of bass in winter. “Winter bass are lethargic and will avoid swimming long distances whenever possible,” says Alton Jones. “If they were on a main lake flat, they might have to swim a hundred yards to move from 8 to 15 feet of water, but they only have to move a few feet to make that same depth change on a sloping bank.”

Lure Choice: *Plastic worm *grub

Transitions In Rocky Reservoirs:

“Bass are always attracted to something different in their surroundings, and this is as true in rocky lakes as it is in lakes with thick weed or wood cover,” says bass guide Jim Duckworth. “Rather than fish all the way down a chunk-rock bank, I’ll put my trolling motor on high until I come to a spot where one type or size rock changes into another.”

Lure Choice: *Tiny hair jig

Underground Spring:

So called “spring holes” can be awesome winter bass haunts in lakes and rivers. “Underwater springs are usually considerably clearer than lake water and sometimes marked on topographical maps, but the most reliable way to locate them is with your graph’s temperature gauge,” says Doug Hannon. “Spring water runs around 55 degrees year-round, so in winter, a spring hole might easily be 10 to 15 degrees warmer than elsewhere in the lake.”

Lure Choice: *Realistic finished lure

Ditches Connecting Deep & Shallow Water:

“Ditches are the last untapped bass structures,” claims Bill Dance. “In winter, bass use them to move from deep to shallow water when feeding. Ditches are seldom shown on topographical maps, and they’re difficult to discern on your graph because they’re usually narrow and only a foot or two deep.”

Lure Choice: *Jig (1/2 or 3/4oz)