Being able to catch Bass in cold water can make the difference between a good and bad fishing trip.
Here are 16 tips for catching those Bass when the water temperature drops.
1) Spring and fall are the best times to catch cold water Bass.
During spring, fishing is generally better in shallower warm water, as the fish start to look for food as they migrate upriver. Fall usually finds many of the Bass cooling off from summertime by hanging out in deeper holes and structure that will hold them warm.
2) Stay away from winds.
Cold water Bass like structure, and will sit in deep holes below the wind line. In a light breeze or no breeze at all you can often find some of the best fishing close to shore. Also, fish the lake's main channels during windy conditions as currents tend to push food into them helping keep Big Bass feeds.
3) Use structure as cover.
Look for deep holes, rock piles and submerged trees and other wood sticking out of the water to find cold water Bass. Structure will hold bait close by making it easier for you to get a lure or bait in front of the fish. Also, look for wind lines that run along structure where the Bass can sit in the cooler water out of a wind.
4) Stay low.
When fishing cold water it is best to fish from a lower position, as colder water holds less oxygen and you want to be below where the fish are hanging out. It helps putting good bait right at their level and keeps your scent down by keeping you away from the water's surface.
5) Use dark colored lures, baits and hook rigs.
A good dark shade like purple or black will help your lure stand out from its surroundings, which makes it easy for Bass to see them against a dark background of deeper waters in colder months. Also, darker colors absorb light rather than reflect light making your lure look more natural.
6) Fish close to bottom.
Cold water Bass rely on thermoclines and other layers of warm or cooler water; so look for areas where these layers meet to find Bass suspended above the bottom waiting to ambush prey that can't feel their presence.
7) Use a weighted hook rig, but keep the weight light.
A light weight will get your bait down deep quickly; keeping it close to bottom where the fish are hanging out waiting for a meal. A heavy weight can push you off of good fishing areas like ledges and drop-offs, so be sure to use a rod with enough backbone that you have control of the fish should one attack.
8) Always wear a flotation device.
Exposure to cold water temperatures can cause hypothermia which could lead to drowning. The longer you are in the water, the more likely it is that something will go wrong; so always use a PFD (Personal Floatation Device) or throwable type life jacket when fishing in cold water.
9) Use a planer board.
A planer board is a great way to get your bait down deep where cold water Bass hang out, especially if you have to fish from the shoreline or dock. With a little experimentation you can find the depth that works best for your situation and lure type. To be effective you need to keep your weight near the back of your lure or bait, as you'll need to get it down quickly.
10) Use a bobber stop.
A bobber stop will save time setting up and help keep your rig at a consistent depth. Simply push up on the little metal bar when you get to the desired depth, and let go to drop back down. This is especially helpful in deeper water, as you can eliminate the need to change your rig setup while trying to keep it at a consistent depth for fish that may only be active for short periods of time.
9) Keep moving after you set the hook.
Fish will often follow a lure or bait and then turn away when they realize it isn't what they are after. When you set the hook and get a fish to hit, do not stop moving after the initial strike; the Bass will often be right there with your lure or bait taking another bite!
11) Use a sharpened Bait Knife.
A little preparation work on baits before fishing can pay big dividends when you hook a fish. Simply run the sharpened edge of your knife down baits to shorten them, exposing more meat and scent. This helps prevent split hooks from tearing up baits that don't get eaten right away.
12) Use a set-up rod made for frogging or ice fishing.
The long handle of these rods enables you to keep your bait in front of the fish, even while you are reeling up or bringing in a catch. This helps you keep control & fight the fish from a safe distance away.
13) Let the fish wear itself out.
When you set your hook and get a strike, remember that Bass are strong fighters when they have leverage to use their muscles from the side. When it comes time for them to twist about and pull against your rod; let them turn into your line rather than pulling back against them. This will give you the advantage, and the Bass will tire out more quickly.
14) Use bait made of natural materials.
When fishing in cold weather, use fresh baits that have been kept frozen or refrigerated until you get to your fishing location. Natural material baits like Gulp! Alive are usually less expensive than lures, but provide just as much action as lures and are more attractive to fish. The scents in these baits attract fish, so don't be afraid to change colors or sizes of Gulp! Alive for different fishing conditions.
15) Use a bait with a scent trail.
Bass use their sense of smell to find food; so you want to give them an easy place to find you. The more scent a fish can smell, the better its chances of finding your bait. Use Gulp! Alive products on top and bottom baits to leave an easy trail for fish to follow, and run your line through a packet or two before you put it in water.
16) Use a small split shot.
When fishing heavy cover or structure you might want to use a small split shot close to the bottom of your line. This helps balance your bait and gives you better control when setting the hook on light bites. It can also keep your bait suspended off of bottom where fish are more likely to strike!
Is Bass good fish to eat?
Yes, in fact Bass is one of the most popular fish for anglers to catch because it's high in protein and tastes great when prepared.
Can I catch cold water Bass in the summer?
Yes, there are Bass that will stay active all year round and you can catch them in the summer months too.
What color should my lure be when fishing for bass?
This depends on what season it is and where the fish are. In the summer months they prefer brighter colors, like orange and yellow, while in fall transition they may be more interested in brown or green lures.
When fishing for Bass in cold water, be sure to keep moving when you set the hook and let the fish tire out by reeling while it is pulling against your line. Using natural baits with scents will also help you attract fish, so don't forget to run your line through a pack of Gulp! Alive products before fishing.
When you have a good idea of how to catch cold water Bass, fish for them in the winter and spring months when other anglers don't want to brave the cooler temperatures. Jigging is best done on still or very slow moving days with light winds; and you will need to shorten baits before using them.
We hope that you find these tips helpful. Happy fishing!