Southern winters occur in waves. A cold front is followed by a warm-up and then another cold front and another warm-up. And so it continues. When Pete Ponds gets to fish during a warm snap, especially if it’s a few days into the warm-up, he ties on a Flatmaxx Shallow and looks for vast sunbaked flats.

“The Flatmaxx sort of takes the place of a lipless crankbait, and it can be especially good on heavily fished bass lakes, where everyone is throwing a lipless crankbait at that time,” Ponds said.

The Flatmaxx is flat-sided, like its name suggests, and has a tight wiggle - making it an excellent choice during the cool months. It also has a muted rattle to make it a bit more subtle.

Ponds looks for the flats that have the warmest water, which usually stretch out from northwestern banks. The technique is best with water temperatures in the low-40s to low-50s, but in a warming trend.

The presence of hydrilla or milfoil never hurts, but Ponds definitely doesn’t consider grass necessary. In fact, he used to think this was a grass pattern but that was only because he had mostly tried it on grass lakes. He has since learned that bass get on the same types of flats with or without vegetation and behave the same way.

Ponds uses a yo-yo presentation, moving the lure with repeated pulls so that it hesitates and comes up a bit between each wiggling dive. The lure goes up and down in the faces of the fish, and they swat at it. Because he hooks a lot of fish outside the mouth and gets a fair amount of slaps from fish that don’t get hooked, Ponds believes it is largely a reactionary thing and the fish hit out of irritation, not necessarily out of hunger.

“One very important thing: If you catch a fish or even see one swatting at your lure, make several casts to that area,” Ponds said. “The fish gang up this time of year, and it’s not uncommon to have no action for forty-five minutes and then catch several fish in a small amount of time, all from the same spot.”

Ponds pays careful attention to nighttime temperatures throughout winter and continuing well into spring. If lows fall into the 20s, he usually leaves his Flatmaxx crankbaits in the box and uses a slower, more methodical approach. However, when lows barely reach 30s or stay in the 40s and highs stretch well into the 50s, which they do on many winter days in the South, you can trust that he will have a Flatmaxx Shallow tied onto at least one rod.