My Mom, when she was happy with me, used to call me “George”, and to this day I don’t know why, nor do I know why I mention it here. But I did. So now you know.
You know, it’s been a long time- a long time since I fished for bass seriously in the winter, something I hope to fix this upcoming cold-water season.
There are so many techniques that will catch winter-time bass, and they are especially attuned to WHERE you fish, geographically, in the winter. Let’s face it- those South Florida boys don’t know what they’re missing, while the far Northern guys are looking at pretty hard water for three months or so. I’m in Missouri, and here we get a little of both. Generally speaking we’ll have a lot of the 40’s and 50’s for daytime highs, but sometimes, well, we’ll actually show colder temps than they do in Alaska. Those are bad days, my friends.
But I would bet that winter fishing will be pretty much the same for the middle of the country and into the mid-south, especially on highland reservoirs like I grew. up on. And one technique, and more specifically one LURE just doesn’t get enough use these days. It’s called the “Little George”, and it’s a lead-bodied lure with a small spinnerbait blade hanging in-line off its tail. And that’s where the lure type gets its name- the TAIL spinner. There are and have been several different companies make tail spinners over the years, but I’m most familiar with the Little George, made by Mann’s Lure Company, and the Pedigo Spinrite. I don’t even know if that particular lure is still in production- that’s how much research I did before setting down to write this.
The tail spinners are solid lead, so they are very heavy for their diminutive size, making them perfect for a sluggish winter bass. They can be easily kept near the bottom, and they are barely bite-sized. This makes them a great lure for a bass that may not be looking to eat a big meal. And that little blade spinning along behind is adding flash, and the lure looks very much like a minnow that’s having issues.
And folks, these things are EASY to fish. Simple is good, and simple really matches winter bass fishing. I use two techniques- vertical jigging and just a slow, straight retrieve. Like I said, SIMPLE.
Vertically jigging the tail spinner is no different than working a lead spoon in the same fashion, except that I tend to not lift it as high as I do a spoon. Ten to fifteen inch raises and falls always worked well for me- of course you’ll always want to experiment to see what works best for you on any given day.
The other retrieve is to simply fire the bait out, let it get to the bottom, and then, with the rod raised up to the ten o’clock position or thereabouts, just crank the bait slowly back to the boat, dropping the rod tip as the lure gets closer. I used to try a jigging retrieve, or a “pumping” retrieve, and while I caught bass doing that, the slow and steady crank always seemed to work best. Again, experimentation is always good. Try different retrieves and see what works for you.
I keep the tackle part of this deal pretty simple too. You can use these things on either casting or spinning tackle, whatever you prefer. My preference was always with a baitcaster, using a 6-1/2 or 7 foot medium or medium-heavy rod with enough tip to feel the lure and what it was doing. And I almost always used 12# monofilament (this of course was the ONLY choice I had for fishing line back in the old days).
These lures come equipped with a single treble hook so they are going to get hung up easily. If you get straight over them, like with a spoon sometimes you can use the lures’ weight to help you jiggle them loose. Of course, I prefer cleaner bottoms when I’m doing my straight and slow bottom-hugging retrieve.
As to where to fish a tail spinner for winter bass, well, pretty much where you would fish any other lure in cold water. Look at the tail spinner as a change-up lure, something to throw after you have already thoroughly fished a spot. Until you get confidence in them anyway and they may become a primary bait for you. I like them on points, especially channel-swing points with the underwater bluff on one side of the point, and a clean gravel and chunk rock mix on top but have caught bass everywhere I’ve thrown them, if the bass were there to start with of course. Twenty to twenty-five feet of water seemed to always be the magic depth for these lures, but I’ve caught bass to fifty feet of depth with them. Obviously, they are a clear water lure, as are most winter bass lures.
As a bonus, I catch bunches of White Bass, big Crappie, and I’ve boated loads of Walleye on tail spinners over the years. It’s a great “any fish” bait, but it really shines on cold water bass. Give it a try and see for yourself. Peace
See you on the water,