Under winter conditions if you want to target shallow bass try to plan your outing about three days following a warm trend. An example: one day is calm and sunny with a high of about 65 degrees F, followed by three more days of temperatures ranging from 58 degrees up to 72 degrees F. This is when the bass will become a lot more active. They will often move out of the deeper water into depths of one to five feet.
Normally the best hours to feed will be from about 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. But I have seen times when they bite at first light. That’s a decision you will have to make. Don’t worry if the day you’re fishing is heavy overcast. In fact, that may enhance your bite, especially if the water you’re fishing is real clear. Muddy, cold water is not a good mix. Always target clear lakes in the winter.
One obvious sign that you’ll find bass up shallow is when you see gnats or lots of small winged creatures on the surface of the lake. These gnats will draw the bait fish into the shallows to feed, and the larger predators will be close behind.
The best fishing will be on the north banks that are shielded from the cold winds and receive the most direct sunlight. Some areas on the south bank can be good if they have shallow water protected by an island or a manmade jetty of some kind.
Even small private lakes will be tough fishing whenever the surface temperatures are in the 40’s. But when the conditions are right (warming trend) they will really turn on and the fishing can be excellent.
Last week I experienced the same conditions that I’ve just described. I was fishing the 20-acre Tosh lake in Rusk, Texas. The morning bite was slow, but from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the bite dramatically increased.
One of my favorite lures under these cold water conditions is a Nichols’ 1/2 oz. Golden Shiner, Rattle Shad. I’ve caught a lot of nice quality bass on this lure. About 11:00 a.m. I began fishing the north side of this lake. Surface temperature was in the 50’s. The bass were relating to green reeds growing in the shallows. I was fishing the Rattle Shad as slow as possible in about two to four feet deep. In a 30 yard stretch I caught about 10 bass in the two-pound range.
At 11: 30 I was fishing a shallow round point near a dam and caught three bass back to back that weighed from five to six pounds. Big bass favor main lake points close to deep water.
Later I found a large group of smaller bass around a shallow island. These fish were in very shallow water, so I switched to a small red crank bait. This bait was a silent runner with no rattles.
That day I caught about 30 bass. Again I was fishing under perfect winter conditions. The weather had been stable and warm for three days. The next day a cold front came through and the bass shut down.
John Long and Frank McLeod fished the very same day on Lake Striker. They targeted the protected north end of the lake. Long said they fished in one to five feet of water with spinner baits and soft plastics.
This area of Lake Striker has a tremendous amount of shallow cover including buck brush, lily pads and coontail moss.
Long said they caught several bass up to three pounds. They started on a long point where the main Striker Creek came through and fished their way back towards the eight ball area (launching area). Long reported getting broke off by a huge bass further up the creek.
Stable, warm, winter conditions are hard to come by, but whenever possible you need to plan your trips accordingly.
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: email@example.com
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