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Fishing Skills

Tips for Successful Fishing in Cold Weather

by Tom Melton 03 Dec 2022

Depending on where you live, colder water temperatures are on their way, and knowing what tips for cold weather fishing should be a priority. In the Northeast, the waters are already heading downward as of this writing in mid-October. In the south, the water temps are heading down, but are still in the 70 plus range. And, for those anglers that do not hit the ice for action, the fall period before ice forms can be red hot fishing. In spite of myths that they do not feed, bass feed all year long. Let's take a look at some cold weather fishing tips when the bass' metabolism begins to slow, to help you put a few tugs at the end of your line.

Bass Fishing Tips

Slow down

Although I really believe the slow-down of baits is important, it is not carved in stone. In the fall, when waters are cooling, shad will die off in some parts of the country. When shad are dying, a faster moving topwater or crankbait can be deadly. However, in most parts of the country, the slow down effect is important. Bass will put the feed bag on until the water reaches about 55 degrees. This means that if the water was above 55, you do not have to go as slow. Below 55 degrees and you will need to change it up.

  • Ned Rigs
  • Football jigs
  • Large 10-inch worms
  • Square bill crankbaits
  • Jerkbaits
  • Spoons and Blades

I like both smaller and larger profile baits and jigs mostly in the fall. I can work these very slow, trying mimic a small baitfish. A Ned rig or drop shot bait is easy to work and mimics small bait well. A jerkbait will be the perfect dying bait look, but again, the jerk-pause-jerk should be greatly reduced from the spring, summer fishery. On the spoon style baits, vertical, and slow jigging cannot be beat. Bass will feed throughout, but keep in mind, their metabolism is slowing them down. They will not chase a rapid moving topwater Zara Spook across the lake. They want an easy meal, that is easy to catch, plus fills their belly. For the larger baits, nothing beats a 10-inch worm fished Texas style and dragged slowly across the bottom. The best tip for this cold weather option is to think slow, then slow it down even more, then slow it down one more time. If I make a cast, it may take 5 minutes or longer to get it back to the shore or boat.

Fish warm side of lake

We all know by now the lake is heading south temperature wise. The days are getting shorter and colder, and cold fronts are chilling the water. As an angler, keep in mind, as the waters cool, bass do not head deep immediately, they head shallow for the warmer water and baitfish supply. When they are shallow, I like smaller crankbaits in red and chartreuse colors.

If you are fishing a lake, you need to find the area where the sun is hitting it the most. Scope the body of water out beforehand and determine the best options. Typically the best cold weather tip is going to be the west side of the lake as it will get sun early, and throughout the day… you get the idea I am sure! As the water breaches that 50 degree mark and colder, the bass will begin setting up in the deeper portions of the lake. In these deeper holes there will be bottom dwelling food sources for an easy meal. I would not go deeper than 30 feet, but I have had bass as deep as 50 in some of the northern reservoirs and lakes in the colder winter months.

Line

Although cold weather fishing and the tips that go along are not much different in the bait sizes and style than the rest of the year, I still like to downsize my line weights. As the fall moves in, the waters in most areas begins to get super clear. Bass can see far and the clear water also makes lines look like rope. You need to be fishing fluorocarbon line, and I prefer no heavier than 10-pound test. In fact, depending on what I am fishing, I might even drop down to 6 pound test. During this phase, leave the braided line at home.

Hit the water

As I started off, bass will feed throughout the winter months. They do not hibernate, they do not stop eating. They are just like you and I…they eat all year round. The best tip for cold weather bass fishing is this – keep it simple by using baits that are easy to work slowly. Keep it slow and steady. And three, be patient and do not try to get it done in 2.2 seconds, but rather let your lure work like a smaller bait, or dying bait. Follow these tips and I am sure a few bass will be netted while cold weather bass fishing.

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