One of my favorite times of the year to hit the lake has always been during the winter months if I am south where there is open water. In most parts of the country, the recreation traffic is finally gone until spring, and that usually means a lot less fishing pressure as well. Fish are most likely on their way to wintering areas of the lake which means fishing in deeper waters. Normally, I find myself fishing anywhere from 40 to 70 feet in the winter months, but this will vary depending on where you live and what body of water you are fishing. It may take some time to understand how and where bass migrate on your lake. Once you do the work and find these areas, you can usually rely on these wintering holes year after year. Other than a small handful of lures, there are not many techniques you can use to target fish this deep. When I find fish deep, the fish are usually not very active, so downsizing is key to catching fish. Some of my favorite lures for the winter months have always been a combination of jigging spoons and blade baits, but I am going to give up a long-time secret for those of you who want to give it a try. This winter tactic will give you one more technique option to catch deep cold-water bass.
My little secret doesn’t really have its own name yet but It’s essentially a modified Carolina Rig.
Instead of using the typical soft plastic trailing behind, my lure of choice is a 2.75” inch floating minnow which trails behind my weight about 3 feet on average. Most of the time I find myself using 3/8 -1/2 oz Tungsten weight which helps me get down to the needed depth. I also prefer to use a 12lb fluorocarbon which sinks faster creating less line resistance in the water at those depths. Fluorocarbon is also more sensitive which helps you feel those subtle strikes. The other reason for the Tungsten is so that I can feel the bottom to determine if the fish are laying on hard bottom, mud, sand, or soft bottom. When fishing spoons or blade baits, the technique to trigger strikes is mostly reaction when you rip those style lures up off the bottom. When fishing this modified Carolina Rig, the minnow bait will sit up off the bottom suspended in their face allowing you to finesse them into biting. Often, I can give a slow drag and stop for 5 to 20 seconds before a fish strikes, but there are times when they are more aggressive and will crush your lure as fast as you can get it down to them. The best way to fish this technique is to make long casts past the school, then allow the weight to make contact with the bottom. Then slowly crawl the rig along the bottom just enough to give the lure a little action with a slow reel or a pull and pause retrieve. Keep your line tight because once you feel the slight tic on the line you will want to set the hook. There will be times you will miss the fish as they will suck and spit the bait before you can get a hook in them, but let it sit and repeat as it often triggers another strike. This technique can be deadly for loading the boat in the wintertime when you find the right school of fish. Give it a try and it won’t be long before this becomes one of your favorite deep-water techniques as well.
Check out Shoppers Supply Stores on your way to the lake for a variety of tackle mentioned in this article.