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Winter Fishing Considerations

Fishing in the winter months can be challenging. There are several factors that we don’t have to account for during other times of the year. Frequently in the winter we are wearing more clothes. I highly suggest that you wear your lifejacket the entire time on the outside of your winter clothing. Consider this, you somehow end up in the water, those extra clothes and boots will soak up the water and make you feel like a ton of bricks. Secondly, it takes just a short amount of time for hypothermia to start setting in. While the lifejacket will not address the hypothermia, it will give you a fighting chance against the dead weight you are wearing. Pack an extra set of clothes in a dry bag. This will help once you get back in the boat to warm back up. True, all of this has no bearing on catching fish. It does have everything to do with fishing in the winter. Something else to consider is that cold is a relative term. What is cold water in one part of the country is not necessarily cold in another part of the country. If you are new to fishing or winter fishing, look at the historical fishing reports for your area to learn about the temperature ranges. The image below shows the average temperatures by state. To learn more click the follow the link to the “Current Results” site.

There are three things to consider when fishing in the winter. First, downsize your baits. Second, fish deep and third, fish slow. Which one of the best techniques for this is the Hover Rig. The fish will position themselves near a food source in the most comfortable water they can find. The warmer water is found deeper in the winter. Yes, there are exceptions to this and no, not all fish move out to the main lake in the inter. Deep is a relative term, not only for the body of water you are fishing, but for the area of the lake. When it comes to bait selection, you want your bait to look as real as possible. Bass are not going to expend tremendous amounts of energy chasing bait. As such, you are less likely to consistently get reaction bites. The same holds true for the forage that bass eat. That forage is also lethargic in colder water so consider staying away from baits with lots of appendages. Those appendages create a lot of movement and may not look as natural. In short, less action is better in the winter. A jig n rap by Rapala is another great winter deep structured bait.

Regardless of the time of year, fish have migration and movement patterns. Think about the key structure and cover for your body of water. As fish migrate to their winter areas, they will follow the underwater highways and pause at different points along that structure. The stopping points will have cover. That cover offers them a place to hunt and be protected. Remember too that things like logs and rock will warm faster and hold more heat. Also remember that there are resident fish that may have a different migration pattern. These resident fish stay in the area

and find the prime real estate in the area. Movement from deep to shallow and back again are common. Fish slow and when you think you are fishing slow, slow down some more. Forage will not be making lots of moves, so hopping your bait or working your bait quickly will be less productive. Yes, you can still catch bass using crankbaits, both lipped and lipless in cold water conditions. More bites will come from slower presentations.

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