There are a few basic rules we need to apply to catch trophy winter bass. These rules can mean the difference between casting practice and the bass of a lifetime. Winter bass are very healthy, and often at their peak weight for the year. In early winter, bass have just completed several weeks of a fall feeding frenzy to fatten up for the leaner months of winter. During the late winter, bass are again putting on weight in preparation for the upcoming spring. Shad die-offs, as the water reaches its coldest temperatures of the year, help bass increase their body mass for the future spawning ritual. To an angler, this means winter bass fishing provides a large window to catch a trophy bass.
Catch Trophy Winter Bass – Timing
What is the best day to catch a winter trophy bass? Anglers can improve their odds of hooking a trophy bass by planning winter bass fishing trips around cold fronts. Fishing a few hours to a day before a cold front passes through the area will significantly improve an anglers’ odds of catching a trophy winter bass. I realize many of us are locked into specific fishing days each week; work has a way of getting in the way. However, even if it’s for just a couple of hours before or after work, a well-timed outing can provide anglers some of the largest bass catches of the year.
Catch Trophy Winter Bass – Big Baits
What catches big bass? Big baits catch big bass. If a trophy is the goal, leave the finesse equipment at home. A big bass likes a big meal. Large prey reduces the effort or energy spent versus the energy gain from the meal. A large easy to catch meal has more survival potential to a bass. If the bass must chase down several smaller meals, the energy used to do so may exceed the energy gained from the meal. Big bass are smart; they didn’t get big by making dumb life decisions. With this said, an elephant will eat a peanut. Indifferent to the size, big bass won’t pass on an easy meal. We all read about Kevin VanDam catching the 11-pound bass on Lake Lewisville in Texas, several winters ago, with a shakey head worm. The most important thing to take away from this paragraph–the meal must be easy to catch. A bass can simply flare it’s gills and inhale prey creeping along in front of it.
Catch Trophy Winter Bass – Slow
How do anglers present an easy meal? Easy equals slow! No matter the bait choice, the presentation and retrieve must be slow. There are several reasons for this. The most obvious is cold water; bass are cold blooded creates. A bass’s metabolism is the same as its surroundings. The colder the water, the less food a bass needs to survive. A bass is not as hungry during winter months and will wait for the perfect feeding opportunity versus wasting energy on every possible food source. Another reason for slow moving baits is “match the hatch.” Minnows, shad, crawfish, bream, all the things bass eat during the winter are also cold blooded creatures. Bass food sources move very slowly through the water column during winter, anything moving too quickly seems unnatural and difficult to catch.
Time outings prior to cold fronts, use large lures, and present those lures as slow as possible. This is a time tested, angler proven method to catch a bass of a life time during the cold winter months.
Get the Net It’s a Hawg
For more great tips on catching bass throughout the seasons visit the Ultimate Bass forums