It's Cold But The Fish Are Feeding

by Kurt Dove

Winter is no time to put away the fishing equipment! The bass are still swimming around and feeding so anglers should be getting after them.

Photo of Bassmaster Eilte Pro Kurt Dove winter fishing.

Winter months signify a great time on the water or even ice if you live far enough to the north.  My go-to technique this time of year is vertical fishing.  Seems pretty simple… and it is. 

This is a great opportunity to become more proficient with your electronics and get a head start on locating fish that will move up into pre-spawn position in a few months.  I generally will not even fish a location in the winter time unless I detect fish on my sonar while idling or trolling around structure.  I tend to favor fishing main lake structure this time of year but you may also find some fish grouped up and wintering in major creeks or tributaries on your local waters. 

My two favorite lures and set ups are the drop-shot and slab.  The drop shot can be fished so many different ways.  Targeting suspended fish or fish relating to the bottom can both be equally effective.  Line size for me in the winter time is critical.  I will downsize to as little as 4-lb test or as small a diameter as possible depending on the type of cover and structure I am targeting.  I rely on the smaller line to provide me greater sensitivity which helps me detect the subtle strikes that occur in the winter months.

My bait selection is fairly simple.  I like to use shad imitation drop shot baits in the cold weather season as it has worked better for me than worm imitators.   Be sure to work your lures erratically when fishing vertical to ignite a reaction from the fish, but keep a slow pace when moving laterally along the bottom because the fish generally will not travel far or fast for a meal this time of year.

The Slab is my other favorite set up for winter bass fishing as I have seen bass react very well to this presentation.  The key steps in working a slab it to be sure the bait is dropped on a slack line after jerking it off the bottom.  The erratic fall of the bait when allowed to descend on slack line is what really drives the fish to strike.  The slab becomes the perfect imitation of a bait fish dying right in front of them. I like to use 12-lb test when slab fishing as the smaller diameter line allows the bait to fall faster and more natural after I have located a fish on my sonar unit.

I hope you get the opportunity to do some winter bassin' in the near future so you can start locating those winning pre-spawn fish before your competition even thinks about that first derby of the year this spring.



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