Right now is the period when a lot of bass anglers give up their casting decks in favor of duck blinds or deer stands, and many of them won’t return until warmer weather arrives. A hardy few, however, opt to extend their fishing season as long as possible; Pennsylvania angler and YUM brand ambassador Ty Spade is one of them.

“As long as I can dodge the ice chunks, I’ll be on the water,” he said. Spade probes the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers, as well as the highland reservoirs in his home state for late-season smallmouth and largemouth bass. His lure of choice: a Vibra King Tube.

“Tube baits are versatile; there aren’t very many lures that you can apply to so many different situations,” he said, “and I especially like the 4¼-inch Vibra King because it displaces so much water, and the ribs along its body create a lot of vibration that attracts a fish’s attention.”

When he’s targeting largemouths in the late-fall and winter, Spade focuses on the deeper sections of creek arms, typically flipping timber, stumps and submerged trees from mid-arm out to its mouth. Typically this type of approach calls for pegging the bullet weight on the line, or using a screw-in Florida rig sinker. Whenever possible, however, Spade avoids these options.

“When I have to, I’ll keep the weight tight to the bait with an in-line bobber stop, which I prefer to pegging,” he said. “Sometimes it’s the only way you’re able to get the bait through the brush or grass without snagging. If I can get away with it at all, though, I much rather let the sinker slide along the line. The weight separates from the tube as it drops, and the tube follows it down. I think the bass interpret it as a baitfish or panfish chasing something to eat, and it triggers a reaction strike.

“There have been too many days during the cold season when an unpegged tube out-produced a pegged tube for me to think any differently,” he said.

When it comes to river smallies, Spade fishes the Vibra King a couple of different ways. “The first is to drift it along a current seam,” he said. “I see a lot of guys come in, cast into an eddy, then be on their way. They miss a lot of fish doing that. My approach is to cast to the current seam and let the tube drift with the moving water while keeping the line just tight enough to maintain contact with the lure. It’s a very natural looking presentation.”

Depending on current speed, the angler rigs the lure on a 1/8-to-1/16 ounce tube head jig. “You want it light enough to move with the flow, but not so light that it rips right through the area.”

Tapering shorelines are another target zone this time of year. “Look for a pea-gravel bank or point that tapers gradually into deep water,” he said. “Make a long cast and just drag the jig slowly along the bottom by lifting the rodtip. Smallmouths come up into these areas to feed and a Vibra King moving deliberately along the bottom looks like a lethargic crayfish in cold water.”