How To Catch Bass In Winter For Success

The chill of winter air certainly puts a strain on the bass bite but it may even put more of a strain on bass fishermen. While a lot of bass fishing happens during summer and spring, winter can be an incredible time of year to catch some nice fish and sometimes, even your personal best. The fish do not bite the same as they do in the other seasons of the year.

Because of this, the question needs to be asked and answered so I will. Can you catch bass in cold weather? The answer is yes as long as you take the time to fish efficiently. How to catch bass in winter is different than in other seasons. There are a few essential cold water bass fishing tips that can put more fish in the boat for you.

The main thing is to remember to stay focused, bundle up, and don’t get discouraged if the fish aren’t biting. Cold temperatures affect many aspects of fish including a decreased appetite, a slowing metabolism, and where they like to school up. The thing that will work to our advantage during this time is that all living creatures still need to eat.

Fish will prefer to eat less of the time but when they finally do decide to have a meal, you have yourself a victory. If pro bass fishermen can catch fish during this time, so can you. All it takes is a little “persuasion” on the part of the fisherman. Try these tips the next time the wind howls at you to go bass fishing.

Use The Right Bait

1. Keep It Natural

While summer certainly has its glitzy glamour for catching fish on multiple patterns, fish become more choosy after, especially the big ones. The easiest way to provoke hesitant strikes is to keep it natural in your presentation. Think of soft plastics, natural colors, and slower fishing methods.

If there is one thing that will absolutely turn the fish off when you don’t want it, it is throwing abnormal colors and patterns or fishing too fast. Yes, I know the bass are territorial and blow up on crankbaits and frogs during summer. Sorry but this isn’t summer.

2. Downsize

It is always a great idea to take your spinning rod with you when you go fishing. This is because you should downsize literally everything you throw. Downsizing the size of your lure is key because the bass is less likely to put forth more energy trying to grab a larger meal.

If you take your time using smaller baits instead of larger ones, you will inevitably get more bites. Don’t think it will determine the size of fish you get either. These fish have been getting fat all year and are looking for smaller meals anyways. Try throwing smaller lures for big fish!

3. Try Using Specific Cold Water Bass Baits

  • Paddle-tail swimbaits
  • Football jigs
  • Jerkbaits
  • Metal baits
  • Ned rig jigs
  • Drop shot worms

Soft Plastic Swimbait

There are a few staple lures that you will want to have in your box this winter. The first is a paddle-tail soft plastic swimbait. They are soft and chewy which can cause the fish to hold on an extra second or two so you can set the hook.

The action on the tails is also very subtle and natural which is important for tempting those bigger and more hesitant largemouth. Most of the time, a basic paddle tail on a jighead will cover the situations you want to fish. Cast them out and just reel them in as slowly as you can.

David Moore with a largemouth bass caught in winter using a soft plastic swimbait.
David Moore holds a bass caught with a Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer swimbait.

Football Jigs

Football jigs are another great option that can be effective for fishing rocky bottoms. They look like crawfish. Okay, do bass like crawfish in the winter? I cannot say for certain that they do this time of the year but one thing is still true.

You can still catch fish on them. It should be one of the main baits you try. Try tipping a normal football jig with a swimming craw trailer or a curly tail grub to get some more action in the water. Throw it in rocks and work it slowly. Chunk it out and let it soak. Every now and then, lift the rod slightly and let it soak again.


Jerkbaits are great any time of the year really but cooler water presentations are where jerkbaits really shine. These are realistic fish imitations that are worked by using a jerking of the rod tip. The action to bass is subtle, natural, and incredibly enticing. They work very well around structures like dropoffs and cover like sunken trees.

The only limitation of the jerkbait is that you have to put it in front of their faces. They have to be able to see it because it doesn’t provide anything else to help the fish find it. Clear water only, please. The next is the entire category of metal baits.

What Are Some Specific Cold Water Baits?

Metal Baits

Lures like casting spoons, jigging spoons, and blade baits all imitate natural forage well and do a fine job of holding up to the arctic conditions. You traditionally throw these on spinning gear with a light line. They produce a tight action and are less aggressive than the crankbait but more aggressive than the jerkbait. All in all, metal baits are a very versatile bait choice for largemouth and smallmouth.

Ned Rig Jig

Okay so, the ned rig jig is new on the market. Even so, many catches of big fish have labeled it as essential in any bass fishing box. The ned rig is very basic. It is just a tiny little plastic worm body on a jighead. Simple but absolutely deadly on all fish sizes.

The meal appears soft and defenseless so a lot of fish will take it. This presentation consists of less being more. Cast it out, let it sink to the bottom, let it soak for a minute, lift the rod tip, and again, let it soak. It is a great way to intercept bass as they swim through as well.

Drop Shot Worm

Many may have thought that the drop shot would be on here. You were correct. What is more enticing than a slow-moving bait that won’t run away? Well, only one. The drop shot. Drop shotting has been the rig of choice for big fish in lakes with the clearest water clarity.

You can take the success of the already existing drop shot rig and use it for fishing in the cold too.  If the drop shot is effective enough for clear water trophies, using a drop shot worm is going to be a nice bait to have at all times.

Fishing Winter Bass Locations

1. Fish The Shoreline

Never forget that the shoreline is the place to be if you are a big bass. It is always just a little warmer because it has access to sunlight. Also, there are quite a lot of different places for bait to hide which provide the optimal feeding grounds. Especially true in rivers above all other water bodies, the shoreline is just the place to be. The fish have sun, places to hide, and places to ambush food whenever the golden opportunity presents itself. Fish the shoreline first if you fish rivers and work your way down.

2. Find Deep Pockets

In lakes, the water tends to be colder on top and warmer on the bottom simply because the atmospheric conditions at the surface are exposed to the wind. The water below always tends to be a certain temperature constantly. If lakes are what you are fishing, it may be a time to get on the boat, apply a little sonar, and search for those pockets of deep water that will inevitably hold big bass, loads of small baitfish, tons of catfish, and the lone carp once in awhile. Be slow with your lure and see what happens.

3. Always Be Mindful Of The Bottom

This next tip is not a seasonal pattern. It just comes from basic biology. All black bass species love the bottom and this is true everywhere. Bluegill makes their beds on the bottom, shad pile up and feed on the bottom, and crawfish literally attach themselves to the bottom of the rocks in the water. In other words, you should always pay attention to the bottom regardless of the season. This is not a commandment to always be fishing a Carolina rig and avoiding topwater blowups. It’s just a suggestion to keep in mind.

Tips For Successful Winter Bass Fishing

1. Slow It Down!

I have already said it once before but it cannot be stated enough. If you want to catch fish consistently in cold water, stop burning your lure back in. Fish usually don’t have time to see it and most of the time when they are not hungry, they don’t care.

That being the case, you have to slow down to give the fish enough time to see it process the urge to take a bite, and peck at it fifteen times before committing. Unless all of those conditions are met, you likely won’t land much fish. Calm down on the reel and let the bait work its magic.

2. Bring A Spinning Rod And Finesse It

Yes, I am in love with my spinning reel. We have a good relationship and it goes with me every time I fish. A great spinning rod is worth its weight in gold literally and it may be your best friend when it comes to bass fishing in cold weather. Because you should use finesse tactics, use a spinning rod.

By finesse, I mean a combination of everything mentioned here. Downsizing your bait, fishing slowly, and using an invisible fishing line in a light-pound test are all finesse tactics that are really the only way to catch fish consistently.

3. Be Patient – It Is Fishing After All

Finally, the last thing you should do to be successful is to realize that you may not always be successful. You are here for a reason and that is because fishing with numb fingers and a red nose in the wind is brutally difficult. You will catch fish from time to time but many days will be spent empty-handed.

Your success is dependent on how patient you are. Fishing is at its core, a waiting game. It always has been and always will be. Your success is not determined by how many fish you catch but by how well you overcome the trials for next time.

Conclusion – Finesse, Patience, Fish

To conclude with everything, it is going to be a step up in difficulty to catch any fish but it is possible if you do it right. I am a big supporter of fishing efficiently but there is no way to do that for the subject at hand. To achieve success and defeat the wind chill at the same time, we must go all the way back to our first fishing trips and apply the same knowledge our parents and grandparents gave us when we first started fishing. They always told us to bundle up so our bodies stay warm and to wait patiently on the bobber to go down.

We need to couple dressing warmer with remembering to stay patient and believing in our abilities that we will eventually hook up. Use a natural bait for results and just be overall, lighter and slower in your approach. Match the hatch and go catching from there.

What has been your experience of catching fish during this time? Did you catch fish or did you leave without one bite? When it comes to catching bass period, everybody wants one more fish and I cannot say that I blame them. Winter may be the season for a new PB. What do you think? Is it too cold? Leave a reply below to help other anglers out! Let us know if you have fished it and been successful!

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