Winter is here, but the warm weather we’ve been having can make for some strange fishing patterns. One thing now catching bass on most lakes is the crank bait.
Most fishermen do not fish for bass during the winter months with crank baits, but in the past few years some winter anglers began using and catching bass in colder water on crank baits. This started a new trend in fishing for cold water bass. Most anglers were fishing slower deeper water baits like jigs and grubs.
The introduction of crank bait fishing patterns in winter opened up a whole new way of fishing during the cold months. Most crank baits fished in winter are smaller medium- to deep-diving baits with a slow side-to-side action or a weighted diving action. Most of these baits will use two color patterns — a darker natural color or a shad color.
In the winter months, the shad and other baitfish will gather in large schools and move to the edges of main lake structure — the edges of drop offs, channel edges, the deep side of a point or on a steep stair-step bank that drops off into deeper water. They will also hold close to cliff and bluff lines and at the mouth of a major creek channel. All of these are good places to look for active winter bass.
During the cold winter months, some of the shad in a school will become weak or die. These shad will fall away from the school and will be picked off by bass as an easy meal that does not require a lot of energy to get. This is just what a largemouth bass is looking for in winter, so anything you can do to make your bait look and act like one of these dying shad this will greatly increase your chance of getting a strike from a feeding bass.
Largemouth bass in cold water will not use much energy to chase or hunt for food. A meal takes longer to digest in the colder water and a bass will not feed as much. Try to match the size and color of your bait as close as you can to the baitfish in the lake you are fishing. Once you pick a spot you want to fish, look at your depth finder to locate feeding bass close to a baitfish school. Try to fish as close to that depth as you can. You do not want to make a lot of casts or work the bait very fast. Instead, concentrate on keeping the bait close to were the bass are feeding and work the bait in a slow fluttering action like a dying shad. This will draw more action that a fast moving bait.
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