Well, it is warm one day and cold or snowing the next. This is just normal winter weather. It makes it tough to get out and find good fishing spots so anything you can do to put things in your favor is very good.
One of the biggest things is the use of live bait this time of year. Locally it is hard to find or buy live bait till early spring, but around most larger lakes some tackle shops or stores carry some type of live bait. My favorite is a big lively minnow.
Just about every fish feeding this time of year will tear a big minnow up. During winter, smallmouth and largemouth bass and crappie and stripers will hit these good. And in the cooler temperatures the minnows are much easier to keep alive than in summer. You can always put a minnow trap in a creek to catch your own chubs and minnows. Plus this is just fun to do anyways.
You can fish a minnow with or without a floater. I really prefer to use a floater for several reasons. One, it adds weight to your line and allows better casting and longer casting. Plus I like to use the floater as a way of telling what the bait is doing and when a strike happens.
Sometime the floater will just go down and sometimes it will move around or pull sideways. All these tell you something is going on with the bait.
If you’re going out fishing soon, look around for some live bait and give it a try.