As we enter into December, our thoughts are on big bass, and winter is one of those prime time for giant bass. Late fall and into winter is one of those prime times for me. Knowing what to throw and where to look for them is the trick. And paying attention to the changing weather patterns is a must.

While we know that it can still be warm during the day, those nights are long and the water cools too quickly. And on those sunny days, the shallows will warm up if the sun continues to shine on it. While there will always be bass moving up into the shallows, and some big ones will still be hanging around the laydowns, the majority of the bass will be thinking about their winter haunts.
Where do we start our search and what baits do we use. Covering water is a must as we start our search. For me, starting at the mouth of the pockets and along the primary and secondary points of the creek arms to the spawning flats are my first thoughts. And after working them, I will make a move out to deeper water along the channel of the creeks and main lake points. A long point that drops off into deeper water and humps with a flat surrounded by deeper water are my prime targets.
As to baits, my first thought is to cover as much water as possible with a reaction type bait. For this, I like two main baits, a lipless crankbait and a suspending jerkbait. Both can be worked at varying depths and will draw a strike from a distance. While the lipless can be worked at any depth just by letting it sink to the desired depth, a jerkbait requires having multiple baits on multiple rods to achieve that deeper retrieve.

Don’t get me wrong when I say covering water, as both baits are also great when you find them, as you can slow down and really cover an area with multiple casts. One thing I love to do is to let my lipless crankbait sink to the bottom and then give it a quick jump off the bottom and crawl it back just off the bottom. And while most think bass just slurp it in during the cold water of winter, be ready as they will slam it hard, almost ripping the rod out of your hand! And it can also be worked along the edge of those steep bluffs for the bass suspending on them.

For those long points, I love to work a suspending jerkbait along the side of the point, working out to the deeper water. A deep diving suspending jerkbait will do just that, and can provide some violent strikes as well. But sometimes, once you know the bass are holding there, you need to slow things down. For me, that is a perfect opportunity to work a jig down the drop of the point.
Now, everyone has a difference of opinion about what size jig to use, and I subscribe to the lightest I can get by with. If that means a 1/4 ounce will work, then I will go light. But 3/8 ounce is my basic starting point. I like to throw a Missile Baits Ike’s Flip Out Jig or a Ike’s Mini Flip Jig with a Baby D Bomb or Mini D Chunk trailer and work it down and off the drop where I have located bass.
Another bait I will work down the point is a Missile Shockwave on a Gamakatsu Gika Rig, or Tokyo Rig. It is also a bait I will work from the shallow down the drops. Or I will use a Missile Baits Quiver as it has just enough action to entice a big bass to slurp it down. I prefer the 6.5 inch, but sometimes the 4.5 inch is the meal ticket.

On of those baits that a lot of people overlook, is the tried and true Carolina Rig. Depending on how you work it, it can cover a lot of water quickly, or can be worked very slowly around areas that are holding bass. It is one of those old school techniques that has never stopped producing. I like to use a 12-24 inch leader and depending on how much action you want, either a Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer or a D Bomb. With the colder water, I like a little action at times and at other times, very little to none. As to what weight to use, it depends on the depth I am fishing. The deeper the water, the heavier the weight. I start with a WOO Tungeston Never Chip Carolina weight about 3/8 ounce when I am fishing in 10 feet or less, and will go up to 1/2 ounce as the wind picks up or I go deeper. And depending on how deep it is or how much the wind is blowing, I will go up to 3/4 ounce so my weight stays on the bottom as I drag it.

Winter fishing can be tough, as it is so easy to get cold. Dress in layers and have something that breaks the wind as the final layer of clothing. And wear that life jacket! Keep a dry bag with a complete change of clothing and a towel in the boat or in the car if bank fishing. Hypothermia is a killer and you only have minutes before it starts it’s deadly effects. Keep hand, and body, warmers in your dry bag or handy to help bring your body temperature back up. Live to fish another day!

Winter fishing offers so many great choices as to baits. Blade baits, the A rig, deep diving crankbaits, and other options. It is all about having confidence in what you are throwing. Work with a bait and figure out how to use them in different ways and remember that winter doesn’t mean one cast is enough. I’ve made multiple casts to an area with no bites, but moved so the angle was slightly different and was rewarded with multiple bass. That is another reason winter fishing can be so tough, it is all about the right angle at times and repeated casts. Just go have fun and be ready to have the rod ripped out of your hand!