Glenn: All right. Got one. There you go. Keri: Hey, little guy. Little largemouth. The little guy had to eat it. Had to eat it. Had to eat it. Just had to have that split shot. Glenn: Give it to me. Keri: You’re fattening up, little guy. There you go. Glenn: Decent fish. Keri: That’s a pretty decent little guy. Glenn: That’ll work. Hey, folks. Glenn May here at BassResource.com. Today, I want to talk about winter fishing. Primarily nine lures you need for winter bass fishing. This is not the only nine lures you can use, this is not the nine lures that are best for all the time of all time, the greatest nine lures, so don’t get upset if I don’t mention your lure. These are the nine, what I consider the nine most productive lures during the wintertime. Yes, there are other lures that work. I just want to throw that disclaimer out right away. The thing you got to keep in mind during the wintertime is bass are…they’re not lethargic, they’re not slow-moving, they’re not hibernating, sleeping, whatever, what a lot of people think about the bass, the bait is, the forage that they’re going after is often.
Baitfish are struggling to stay alive. As the water temperatures get lower, they slow down, they’re not moving as much. Some of them are struggling to actually survive, so they’re dying off. A lot of them are dying off and falling, struggling to stay upright. Crawdads, their metabolism slows down, their movement slows down, they’re not skittering across the bottom as fast. Gobies, sculpin, same sort of thing. Everything slows down. All of the baitfish around that the bass are feeding on and the forage is slowing down. So, keep that in mind. The site also will slow down because of that, but also bass are cold-blooded creatures. So, their metabolism is dictated and controlled by the water temperature. The higher the water temperature, the higher their metabolism is. Meaning they’ll feed more often. So, a bass may feed seven times a day during the peak of the summer, but in the wintertime, it’s more like once every seven days.
So, there’s far fewer bass during the wintertime that is in feeding mode. So, just by that nature alone, the bite is going to be slower. It doesn’t mean the bass are slower and lethargic, there’s just less bass that are feeding and what they’re feeding on is moving slower. So, that’s really important when I go through these lures. Keep in mind you’re trying to imitate lethargic and slow-moving baitfish and forage, not, “Oh, I’ve got to go real slow and lethargic because the bass are lethargic.” It’s a different mindset, but it’s a way to keep focus on the way that you’re going to move these lure I’m going to talk about.
So, let’s get down to it. In no specific order, the first lure I want to talk about is deep suspending jerkbaits. What I mean by that is jerkbaits that dive down to 10 feet or more and actually just hover in place and don’t even move. Let it get down there and let it sit. And how you work it is just slight twitches, not real hard jerks. Again, you’re imitating something slow and lethargic, so slight twitches, little small jerks, and let it pause for a long amount of time.
Minutes, not even moving. This is why you need a suspending jerkbait because you don’t want it to float up to the top while it’s paused. You can, sometimes I’ll take a little bit of solder wire and put it around the hook shanks to give it a little bit of weight so it sinks very slowly so it looks like a baitfish that’s dying and then I give a little jerk and I might pop up a little bit. That might help with the action a bit. But those are the types of baits that work really well. They imitate those dying baitfish and they can be very productive in the wintertime. The next winter bait I like to use is a blade bait. These seem pretty basic. They’re small, but they imitate a small minnow, a small baitfish. They have that vibrating characteristics of a lipless crankbait, but you can get them down deep. They cast a mile in the wind because there’s a good breeze right now.
You’re often fishing in the wind in the wintertime. You just can’t get away from it and these baits are great and easy to cast through that and then work it at a variety of different depths. What I like to do is there’s two different ways to fish it. One is yo-yo it off the bottom, just rip it up off the bottom and let it flutter it back down. A lot of times the bites occur as you’re pulling it up off the bottom, you get that sudden movement, especially if you just let it sit on the bottom and a long pause for a little bit and then pull it up off the bottom. That action can often trigger a strike. And a lot of times also I like to drag it across structure in deeper water.
Just let it bounce and move and vibrate across that. It’s either I take the boat and just drift it over the top of the structure, points, humps, that sort of thing, or I’ll reel it, I’ll cast over it and I’ll just reel it in nice and slow and then it can occasionally hit the bottom. And that works really well during the wintertime.
Another type of bait that I like to use are jigging spoons, metal jigging spoons. Jigging spoons mimic a dying baitfish. So, this is a vertical presentation. You drop it down to the fish, let it hit the bottom and then pull it up off the bottom and let it flutter and fall on a loose line and slackline. It looks like a dying baitfish. If you’ve ever watched them, they kind of zigzag down, they flutter, they twirl, it’s erratic. That, even though the spoon doesn’t look like anything in nature, that action mimics exactly a dying baitfish and that’s what the bass are triggering. So, you can fish a spoon over all kinds of different structure and different depths and use that action to trigger a lot of bites. Another metal bait that I like to use is the tail spinner.
This is sort of a hybrid between the jigging spoon and the blade bait because you can fish it like a blade bait or like a jigging spoon. The two different methods that I just mentioned, the two different blades and different baits and how you fish them, that’s how you can fish a tail spinner both ways. So, it’s really a versatile bait and sometimes that little extra flash with that tailspin, a little bit of vibration is all you need to trigger bites. When they say for example, won’t hit a spoon, but you fish a tail spinner the exact same way, sometimes you can get more bites out of that school of fish. You might catch a bunch with jigging spoons, say for example, and then the bite dies off, throw in a tail spinner and you might catch a few more.
Another bait that I like to fish a lot during the wintertime is the underspin. This has been a bait that’s been around for a long, long time, but it’s really gained popularity in the last few years because it’s won several tournaments in the early, early spring. Actually, late winter when the water is almost at it’s coldest, underspins do really well.
You just put on a little shad type plastic on the back of it, maybe a shad tail, just thread it on there and it imitates a little minnow, something like a tail spinner, but now you’re using a soft plastic. So, it has a little bit different action, maybe a little boot tail on there and it can really shine really well, fish it the same way you would a tail spinner. One of the things that I do is I’ll use some super glue to keep that soft plastic bait on that tail spinner. It keeps it from being tore up a lot. So, it might last several fish versus one or two sometimes because that soft plastic can tear so easily. So, use a bit of super glue to put it on your tail spinner, might make it last a little bit longer. Another bait that really works well for me in the wintertime is your basic grub. I think this is a real underutilized bait, particularly around most of the United States, especially in the Southern areas.
For some reason, grubs just have lost the popularity, but not with me. I got a lot of them. I’ve been fishing them for decades. It works year-round, but especially in the wintertime. What I’ll do is I’ll take just a bare football head jig, quarter ounce, sometimes up to a half-ounce football head jig, thread on a three-inch white grub, and this is what I fish in, deep, I’m talking 25 feet deep or deeper. So, the light penetration isn’t as much. This is why I use a white grub just to give some contrast on the bottom. The color isn’t…if I use a darker colored grub, it’s going to blend in too much. Use a white grub.
Throw it out over these deep structure. I’m looking at humps, ridges, submerged islands, long points and I’ll just drag it. Don’t lift and hop and make a lot of motion, but just put the trolling motor on slow, hang that rod out to the side and just drag that bait over that structure real slowly and you get a lot of bites that way. It can be very productive.
So, don’t overlook a grub in the wintertime. Now, another bait that’s really productive during the wintertime is a jig. There’s really two different types of jigs that I use. One is your rubber skirted jig and I use that. You know, football head jig, again, because I’m fishing structure, but here I’ve got…the trailer I use on it, I won’t use one that’s got a lot of action and movement like a Rage Tail. I use something like a V&M Cherry Bug or something like that that doesn’t have a lot of movement or a Zoom Chunk. Those things just have less, a lot less movement, they look more natural during the wintertime. And I’ll fish those the same way I did with that grub that I just mentioned. Just drag it over that structure nice and slowly. Another type of jig I’ll use as a hair jig. So, on the bottom, you can crawl it again just like you did with the grubs and you’re mimicking, in this case, either a goby or say a sculpin and they stay on the bottom.
Sculpins don’t have air bladders, so they don’t lift up off the bottom. So, keep that on the bottom, they’ll look natural. Or you can use a hair jig. If you find those baitfish and you can see where they intersect with the structure. Say baitfish are holding 20 feet of water, you can find a nice tapering point and that’s where they’re at. Bass will sit up underneath them and wait for those dying and dead baitfish falling through and they’ll engulf them. So, take your hair jig and drop it down through that school and sometimes you can catch a lot of fish. Works really well with balls of perch. Happens in the wintertime. They really bunch up in tight schools and you can just drop it down through that school of perch if you do it fast enough. I use a little bit heavier jig because the perch like to eat these things too. Punch it down through that school and when you reach this bass, it won’t reach the bottom. So, a hair jig can be really good. The next type of baits I like to use are finesse baits.
Primarily, drop shot and split shot rigs. I’m using four-inch hand-poured finesse worms, that can be deadly during the wintertime. They don’t have a lot of movement, they’re very subtle. You can move them real slowly, crawl them on the bottom with a split shot or just barely off the bottom, I use a shorter leader during the wintertime than I do in the summertime. So, whereas in the summer, I’m using 18 to 24-inch leader between the hook and the weight, I’ll use maybe 10-inch, 8-inch because the fish, a lot of times the bass are hanging out right on the bottom. So, I want to get that bait right near them. So, a little finesse worm works really well for that little minnow imitation, three-inch minnow imitation. Again, moving it lethargically and slowly so it looks like a baitfish that’s just struggling to stay alive can really be appealing to the bass.
And finally, the last lure that I like to use, and certainly not the least, one that’s very productive for me year-round, but especially productive in the wintertime is a three and a half-inch tube. I like to fish, that again, on a split shot rig, drag that behind on a split shot, but I find it to be really productive if I just thread it on a jig head, little ball jig head with a wire guard on it. Quarter-ounce is all I need, maybe a 3/8-ounce, but nothing heavier than that. Sometimes I’ll even go lighter to an eighth-ounce, because what you want to do is you want it to spiral downwards, look like a dying baitfish, get that action in. And so it’s really the fall that you’re aiming for, especially early part of the winter when a lot of the baitfish are dying, that’s what you want to key on. So, a lighter jig head, rig it a little cockeyed on the jig head so that it spirals downward, a death spiral can be really, really productive.
Later, on in the winter when there’s not as many baitfish that are dying, a lot of them have died off by now, then I’ll put it on a heavier jig head and just crawl it on the bottom and drag it like I showed you with the jigs and with the grubs. Those things, same thing with a tube can be extremely productive. Make sure you make long pauses every now and then. Don’t just constantly drag it, just move it along, give it a pause, wait a while, and then move it again real slowly.
Just crawl along the bottom. Just make it look like a crawdad that’s slowly lumbering along that can’t get away or isn’t going to move very quickly if a bass attacks it. It looks dynamite, it’s a great presentation. I love fishing tubes in the wintertime. So, those are the top baits that I find very productive during the wintertime. Again, it’s not the only baits you can use. I’ve caught bass on crankbaits and on spinnerbaits and topwaters and other lures during the wintertime, so don’t get all upset if I didn’t name your bait. Also, again, keep in mind these aren’t the best baits of all time, so I’m not giving that a list, this is just for wintertime only. If you have at least these nine baits in your tacklebox during the wintertime, you’re bound to catch some fish.
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