A lot of people think that the best way to catch a trophy bass after dark is during the summer. While most anglers do prefer the warmth of a late summer evening, you can still pursue that elusive catch during the winter, with a few special preparations.
Your boat needs to be properly equipped according to U.S. Coast Guard boating regulations – life jackets for all passengers, a throwable rescue device and functioning running lights, for example. Don’t forget to bring along your flashlight, spotlight and bug repellent.
Most states require board operators to carry a boater education card when they operate motorized watercraft above 10 horsepower. In North Carolina, for example, you can take a boater education course at boaterexam.com. Websites like this offer a way to study for and take the exam online, plus you’ll be able to print out your certificate upon completion and start boating right away. Knowledge and alertness are both the key to safety on the water. The U.S. Coast Guard notes that operator inattention and inexperience were the two greatest contributing factors of injuries in 2012.
Know Your Water
Many anglers pass on winter fishing because fish don’t bite as often and it takes a bit more effort to lure them in. Bass have lower feeding requirements in cold water, which slows down their metabolism, but sheer instinct can trigger a strike if a lure lands in the right place. Muddy water prevents most fish from sighting their food.
Seek out spots where bass are most likely to be. Playing the creek lips and depressions can help you find bass lurking along contour lines. Bass may also be found closer to structures or near vegetation and cover. Knowing your weather patterns is also a plus – a warm front can bring bass to warmer water for feeding. A change in water temperature as small as one degree can make a tremendous difference in fishing.
Choosing the Best Lure
According to Dave Brummond of Bass Resource, a black-and-blue or black-and-brown jig-and-pig lure works best in off-colored water. It’s also a go-to bait for luring bass out of cover during a cold front. Combined with a rattle, you can fish a jig-and-pig slowly around thick weeds, stump roots and other areas where a nearby bass might congregate. An oversized blade on a jig-and-pig also works for muddy water conditions.
Brummond recommends a floating Rapala during the start of winter, as the bass are likely to seek out an easy meal. A slow-twitching rainbow trout-colored Rapala next to cover is a nearly surefire method of catching bass. A 7-inch power worm also works for bass close to structure, especially near break lines and drop-offs.
Finding the Best Technique
The recommended lures above are considered “slow” lures – and that’s exactly what you’ll need to reel in a bass. You’ll have to slow down your movements, as quick movements appear unnatural to bass this time of year. A slow, methodical cast with a little vibration will get the job done.