In the cold of winter largemouth bass are looking for live baitfish and minnow schools to feed on. That makes live bait for bass fishing this time of year a great choice.
Live bait is usually in the form of some type of chub minnow or bait shop-bought minnows or shiner-type bait. Many anglers like to set minnow traps and catch their own chubs and minnows. I do this myself sometimes.
At a lot of the bigger lakes you can buy minnows in several different sizes or buy the shiners. Some bait shops sell the big chubs that look like big goldfish.
A few years ago a friend of mine I used to work and I went on a winter bass fishing trip for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass at Dale Hollow Lake on the Kentucky-Tennessee line. It was cold when we left, but had warmed up some by the time we got there. We had planned on mostly a smallmouth trip in the colder weather with jigs and tube baits, or even the float and fly rig. Because of the milder weather the smallmouth bite was slow, but the largemouth bass moved up shallow and became active on the live baitfish.
We tried out lures for largemouth but they would not bite. We went to a nearby tackle shop and they had some of the gold shiners for sale. I asked the man how much they were he said $3. I asked him if that was for a dozen and he said no, that was the price for each one.
We bought three- dozen of the shiners and went back to the lake. Some had already died by the time we got back to the lake. We rigged them and started out using a floater and fishing about six feet deep around the boat dock slips. Almost at once we got some strikes and ended up catching several nice bass, some more than five pounds.
This just goes to show you that fishing with live bait can pay off big.