During this time of year the fishing can be tough and anything you can do to put things in your favor is a big plus. One of the biggest things most anglers do while fishing in the winter is to use live bait.
There are many types of live bait an angler can use from small and large minnows and huge creek chubs to nightcrawlers and even crickets. All these baits are available in many places year around, but may only be seasonal at smaller shops.
Many fish will not chase an artificial bait too far in the cold water and will respond more to natural looking and acting food. Live bait just gives off a look, sound and smell that is hard to get out of an artificial bait. Live bait has a natural vibration in the water that game fish use to find and locate prey, even at night and in low visibility situations.
Except for an experienced winter angler that knows the right type of artificial bait to use and the right action to give it in colder water, most will do better to try fishing with live bait in the winter months. Smallmouth and largemouth bass love a big chub minnow and will feed on them in most situations. A hungry smallmouth will jerk the rod out of your hands on a hard strike on the coldest day of the year for a big creek chub.
On one trip to Dale Hollow Lake, I and some fishing buddies went to a bait shop in February looking for big minnows and all they had was big orange shiners. They are expensive, like $ 3 each. We got about 10 of them and fished for bass and it did not take long to get big time action. By the end of the day I caught three largemouth over three pounds and a smallmouth close to four pounds. This was a trip I will always remember.
So take it from me, live bait is a great choice this time of year.