Many anglers believe the fishing season doesn’t start until bass move up in the early prespawn, but the heart of winter is a great time to catch bass. Here’s how to catch more bass when it’s too cold to be fishing.

  1. Find them first. B.A.S.S. Elite Pro Alton Jones loves wintertime fishing. “When you find them, they’re more grouped up and you can sit on them and wear ‘em out,” he said. Good places to look: inside river channel bends where cover and structure has accumulated, mid lake humps near the channel, and deep structure such as old roadbeds.
  2. Simplify everything. Before hitting the lake, select no more than three rods and rig them up with what you plan on using. Strap them to the deck and restrain yourself from changing.
  3. Slow down, and not just your retrieve. Speed kills, and in winter when the air temperature may be below freezing, going too fast causes mistakes that can be deadly.
  4. Have a plan B. If the spots you’d picked to fish don’t pan out, tournament angler Patrick Bone looks for an “out,” and his out is riprap, especially if the sun is shining on it. Riprap along bridges normally features everything bass need – good depth changes, structure and forage – and if the sun is hitting it and the wind blowing into it, warmer water than the surrounding area. Bone likes throwing square lipped crankbaits parallel to the rock to catch these cold-water bass.
  5. Throw an umbrella rig. No other fishing technique catches big bass during winter than the YUMbrella or Flash Mob Jr., but you’ve got to be throwing it in the right places. Deep structure and cover are prime locations for throwing a multi-lure rig.
  6. Twitch a jerkbait along bluff walls. During winter, bass like to hold in areas where they don’t have to move far to get to the food, which means bluffs are prime spots to find them. Beaver Lake Guide Brad “Bo” Weigmann focuses on the ends of bluffs, especially if it ends with chunky rocks or cover.
  7. Slowly crank stumpy, mid-depth flats just off the main river channel. A 12-foot flat drops into a river channel. When resting, the bass hold near the edge of the channel, but when actively feeding they roam the flat looking for forage. A BD7F Fat Free Shad digs the bottom and ricochets off the stumps to trigger strikes.
  8. Spooning isn’t a last resort. Get over the fish, drop the spoon and go to town. Lots of details here, so go with someone who knows how.
  9. Dams, spillways and anywhere there’s increased current can be hotspots. Lots of disoriented bait floating by makes for a good feeding area. This is a great spot for a Flash Mob Jr. or a single Money Minnow on a jighead.
  10. Sleep in. Winter is the one time you definitely don’t want to be on the water when the sun comes up.  “The productive time is in the afternoon,” Jones said. “From about 1 to 4 p.m. is traditionally the best time, once the sun has had time to warm the water.”