As we approach late fall and early winter sometime between Thanksgiving and late December there will be a time when bass actually begin to migrate back out of creeks towards the deeper water in the main lake.
Once the surface temperatures begin to drop into the 50’s, bass will be on the move. This is the time of year when you have to move around to relocate the bait and the bass.
One December on Toledo Bend Reservoir I remember fishing a major creek that ran through a flooded pine farm. When the lake was impounded it flooded a big block of trees everyone called the Pine Farm.
The day we were fishing a cold front was just starting to push through. We were in the right place at the right time. About noontime the shad and bass began to migrate out of the creek toward the mouth of the curve.
Our boat was anchored on the edge of the pine farm next to Martines Creek and the bass were migrating out in big numbers. They were easy to catch.
The majority of the time we had to search for bass targeting secondary points, stumps and flats. Most of the time in late fall I find the bass in the five to ten foot range, but I’m always close to deep water.
When the bass are shallow I really like to fish a Bandit crank bait that runs from 2-to-10 feet deep. I’ve caught a lot of bass up shallow with just a straight retrieve, but I learned a long time ago that you will catch a lot more bass by speeding up your lure and really burning it. A fast retrieve seems to trigger a lot of strikes. Many fishermen prefer using the start and stop retrieve, and at time that’s what the bass prefer.
In stained water bass key in on vibrating lures and that’s when rattling baits really shine.
Where you have cold water and grass everyone knows to rip your crank bait out of the grass to trigger strikes. I used to think that in the winter you had to fish baits slow, but in lakes with grass that’s not the case.
Last year on December 5th I remember fishing with David Nichols after our first hard freeze. I think it warmed up to about 50 degrees that sunny day. Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. we boated about 20 bass using one of his 1/2 oz. Mojo Hologram spoons. We were fishing right in front of the gasoline docks on Lake Jacksonville in 35-36 feet of water. The surface temperature that day had dropped from 65 degrees to about 55 degrees. This caused the bait fish to go deeper where the temperature was more stable.
So bass could be in five feet of water one day and 35 feet the next. A good graph will help you locate these fish so you can drop a spoon right on their heads.
Jerry Miller can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org