How do you fish for winter bass?
Response by Warren - Dated 11/29/1998
First, you've have to realize that the fish never disappear. They're still there, but because the water has cooled down considerably, their metabolism (bodily functions) have slowed down as well. That, combined with the fact your lake has cleared somewhat, can lead to some difficult fishing.
When these conditions occur, the worst thing an angler can do is try the same tactics he or she was having success with under milder and more favorable conditions. Bass only want to eat meals that are worth exerting the energy to catch. That means they won't often be in a chase-mode, which explains why they're ignoring spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. They also don't need to feed as often as when their metabolism is more active.
Without addressing the specific topographical features of a given lake, here are a few general rules of thumb to try. The key word for this time of year is slow. Because the water is on the clear side, I recommend working the deepest structure with a large jig and pork combination fished on light line (8 to 10 pound). Retrieve it slowly along the bottom. As for color, it should to close to the color of the predominant forage species in the lake. If you don't know that color, I suggest using either a black and blue combination (universally effective) or an orange and brown combination (imitates crawfish).
One more thing. Use the real thing (pork) as a trailer on your jigs when the water falls into the 50 degree or lower. Plastics tend to lose a lot of their action in cold water and don't appear as lifelike as they do in warm water. In fact, I never use plastic trailers on my jigs or spinnerbaits. I like pork.