Many anglers end their fishing season during November when it gets cold. In winter, the bass head to deeper waters and are difficult to fish from the shore. Their reduced numbers make fishing them a challenge. This is a challenge that no red-blooded shore fisher can resist. A good-sized bass hooked on a winter's day will earn you plenty of bragging rights.
To successfully fish bass during winter, you need to have an expert-level understanding of their habits. Usually, bass stays near the shore as long as there are no extended spells of speedy winds and the sea temperature is double digits. The cold does reduce their numbers, but they are still catchable from the shore as long as the sea is not too turbulent.
This guide is for the newbie and the seasoned fisherman who wants to fish bass from shore during winter. It will deal with how bass behaves in the cold and how to present a bait to them to maximize your chances of hooking them. Read on to know more.
Cold weather bass fishing essentials
Before we get started, you need to get your cold-weather bass fishing essentials. These will help you stay warm and increase your chances of hooking fish. The list below is a good starter. You will add other things to the list after a few fish trips.
Catching bass from shore in winter
Now that we have dealt with the essentials, it is time to unravel the challenge of fishing bass in winter from shore. The following will give you the right start –
The importance of the right lure
When the water temperatures drop, fast-moving and noisy lures are less effective. The best winter lure for bass is slow-moving, like jigs, spoons, and blade baits. It is crucial to ensure that the lures you use look natural and imitate the bass's prey. Avoid lipless crankbaits, suspending jerk baits, spinnerbaits. They are fast-moving and noisy.
Slower the better
The cold temperature during winter makes the metabolism of the fish slow. Bass feeds less and avoids chasing fast-moving prey. Drop your lure or bait right in front of its face. Present the lure slowly and move it erratically. The bass will think it's got an easy meal and strike. Reeling it will be a cinch. Bass don't put up too much of a fight in the cold weather.
Smaller the better
A smaller lure makes less of a splash and poses less threat to the bass. In addition, the bass feels less threatened with small prey in winter. Live small baitfish are a great choice. You can also use the smallest jig head you can find, along with a small swimbait for bass.
Fishing the right spot
Bass generally prefer deeper waters in cold weather. If you have fished successfully at a spot near the shoreline during warmer weather, you could try casting 20 to 30 yards further from that spot in winter. The other important factor to consider is the murkiness of the water.
Baitfish usually head deeper when the water is murky. If you had heavy snowmelt recently, the water is bound to be less clear. In this case, you must fish further offshore. You can fish closer to the shoreline in clear water as the minnows come closer to the coastline. The key is to know the habits of bass's prey to catch bass.
The importance of timing
Usually, anglers fish bass in the morning or dusk when it is warm. In winter, the right time for bass fishing is in the noon when the baitfish are most active. However, some expert fishermen swear on hitting the water at the break of dawn.
In such cases, it is better to fish the depths of the waterbody. In winter, bass hides in groups at the bottom, waiting for an unwary minnow to pounce on.
Follow the baitfish
In winters, baitfish or minnows usually congregate near the river's shoreline, where the water is warmer and oxygen-rich. Therefore, cast parallelly along the bank. This way, you will maximize your chances of getting some bass and, importantly, stay warm.
Water temperature and bass
The bass is most active when the water temperature is more than 50* F. When it drops below 40* F, you are in for a challenge. Unfortunately, the bass is highly inactive in cold temperatures. That is why you must use a smaller, less noisy lure with a slow and calculated presentation in winter.
Cold weather preparedness and safety
While this has nothing to do with catching bass, you must go well-prepared for the extreme cold weather. A cold, miserable day of fishing is the least of the consequences of going fishing unprepared. Wear multiple layers to stay warm. Ice fishing gear is great for shore fishing in winter.
Lastly, let friends or family know your fishing location if you are going alone. Carry a GPS device to share your location during any emergency. Accidents can happen. On freezing days, it can turn serious very quickly. You must have a backup in case of an emergency.
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To wind off
The above tips will maximize your chances of hooking bass in winter. The more you fish bass during the winter, the better your understanding will get. Keep things simple and have realistic expectations. Bass fishing from the shore in cold weather is challenging. And that is why avid anglers are drawn to it.
You will get lesser nibbles in cold weather. But with patience and more experience, you will become better at catching bass from the shore in winter. Remember, veteran anglers go well-prepared and enjoy a day's fishing even if they do not hook any fish.
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Alec Greg, an avid outdoor enthusiast and writer, intricately weaves passion for nature into captivating narratives. With expertise in hiking, camping, and wilderness survival, his evocative articles in top outdoor publications inspire readers to embrace and explore the beauty of the natural world.