As bass fishermen we're always striving to improve. In the spring we're looking for bigger fish, Summer and Fall we're looking for more fish, but in Winter, it seems like we're just praying to get a bite. Winter bass fishing can be tough! So many of the productive areas have shut down and the bass seem to have disappeared all together.
This week we put together some quick tips to help you locate fish more quickly. We filmed this at Clearlake and while it may not apply to every body of water, it will definitely get you in the mindset to target specific locations and patterns rather than grinding through the day on your same old haunts, waiting for the bass to return.
On naturally occurring lakes we've found that there are 3 key patterns that consistently produce our biggest bites.
1) HOLLOWS: If you're fishing a body of water that is featureless, has a flat mud bottom, or is generally shallow, this is for you. Often times the bass in Winter will pull off shore and lay in the lowest, deepest spot they can find off shore. If you're on a small body of water this probably means the middle of the deepest coves. If you're on a big body of water this could be the middle of a bay or even the center of the lake, miles offshore. The key to this pattern is to understand that the fish are NOT orienting to cover, its more about depth and the presence of food so don't be afraid to go look in the middle of nowhere.
2) ROCKS: If you have rock in your lake, this is a key Winter time feature. Rock offers safety to smaller baitfish during the cold water months, attracting bass like a magnet. If the rock is deep, the bass will lay along the bottom edge where the water is warmest. If the rock is shallow, on the sunny days they'll move right up against the shallowest rocks that protrude above water. Either way, this is a key place to look for BIG winter bass.
3) DEEP DOCKS: Deep docks or other vertical structure is key in Winter. The pilings offer cover, ambush points, and warmth. Bass cling to them until the water warms in Spring. We've found that the largest fish hold just off the deepest pilings through the cold months, only moving in to feed or to sun on the warm afternoons.
While these are just generalizations, they'll give you a great starting point as you search for Winter bass. Its important to add, the right electronics makes a huge difference when searching for open water bass. While not everyone can afford high-dollar electronics, if you can it will save you a lot of time. Everyone has their favorites but the graph in this video is a Lowrance HDS-10. If you can't afford a quality graph don't worry about it, its just going to take a little longer to find the fish. Stick to it and you'll find them!
If you're curious what baits to throw once you find the fish, check out our Top 5 Baits For Cold Water Bass video. This Winter you should abandon your same old haunts, run some new water, and you might just catch the biggest bass of your life!