Searching for Monster Bass: Fishing in January by Bruce Callis Jr.


It’s January of another year and the weather has been rough. Cold fronts, rain, wind, we just can’t catch a break. But if you are like me, the urge to feel the tug on the end of the line never dulls. And so we brave the elements and go searching for that fix!

For me, my number one bait this time of year is a lipless crankbait. It covers water and can be fished a variety of depths. It is something I have a lot of confidence in as well. But you can’t go out with just one and expect it to work in every situation.

For me, on bright sunny days, I prefer something with some flash to it. Here is where the chromes come into play. Straight chrome, chrome with blue back, chrome with blue back, Chrome Shad, and chrome with a green back are all great. They work from just under the surface to ticking the bottom.
For those overcast days, I prefer to go with brighter colors. It’s winter so think about Nasty Shiner, and more subtle colors like Purple Haze, Clear Chartreuse, Red Head, Blue Gill, Cell Mate, Magic Shad, Purple Rain, or Pearl Shad. These will show up a lot better in the water.

These are my primary colors, but don’t leave out the others like the Western Chartreuse Black Back, Golden Perch, Pink Perch, or Frozen Perch. Pick something that matches the primary food source and hold on.
I prefer to rig mine up on 10 pound test Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon. I trust the line and it won’t break the bank. Since I am not burning it along the bottom, I prefer to use a 6.3:1 gear ratio reel on a 7’2” medium heavy rod with a fast tip. This allows me to feel the action of the bait as its coming through the water column. I reel it just fast enough to make the tip of the rod quiver. The tip has a slight bend in it, but still leaves plenty of action once the bass hits. Be ready, for sometimes they will hit it so hard it can yank the rod out of your hand. And a long cast is a must. I use Reelsnot on my line to keep the line conditioned and to achieve a longer cast. It also helps with cutting ice in the colder weather. A must have.

There are plenty of ways you can work the bait, it all takes practice. Yes, you can just throw it out and reel it back, and it will work. I like to start off by throwing it out and letting it sink about 3 feet (I count it down) and giving the rod a quick snap, to engage the lure. Sometimes that is all you need to entice a strike. And then start back with a constant retrieve. Make repeated casts to the same area, sometimes the bass can be fussy and you will need to put it in front of them multiple times. Make a fan cast, covering every hour on the clock. Once you have done it at that depth, change the depth until you are finally crawling it along the bottom.

Another technique is to let it hit bottom, give it a snap up off the bottom, and let it fall back down to the bottom. It doesn’t have to be a huge lift either. Just enough to make the lure rise about a foot and then flutter back down. Do this all the way back and then cast to the same area and do it again. Do a fan cast all around before changing retrieves or areas.

Work around the points and channel, especially the drop near the spawning areas. Bass will pull out until the feel safe and still stay near to areas they can move up to feed when the sun warms the shallows. It is a game of seek and find. Use your electronics to find schools of baitfish and there the bass will be.

My second choice for January is a suspending jerkbait. My favorite is a McStick 110 from SPRO. And I generally follow the same choices for the baits. Again, long casts are important. I still use 10 pound fluorocarbon line, but I have it on a medium action rod. This gives you the ability to fight the bass better, allowing the rod to absorb the surges the bass will make.

Long casts and going slow. Work the bait down and then start your retrieve. I’ll start by making to quick jerks on a slack line followed by a pause of at least 3 seconds. Sometimes you may have to make longer pauses. Here is where counting comes in handy. Its easier to keep constant that way. If you want to get deeper, go with the 110+ and work it the same way. Just be sure to make plenty of repeated casts.
These are my primary baits, but not all I will use. I am trying out the New SPRO Megalojohn 6” swimbait. I have used plenty of small swimbaits, but this is a beautiful looking swimbait with a good thump. I can’t wait to hook into a big bass.

I am also looking forward to the NEW Missile Baits Ike’s Monster Jig. It is a swim jig on steroids. It is available in 1 ounce and 1.5 ounce sizes and due to hit the market this month. You can pair it with a big swimbait and really cover some water.

Just because the water is cold and the weather colder doesn’t mean we have to sit inside and dream of those big bass. Now is the time to get out and find one of those big ladies, and maybe a new personal best. Will you be doing it, or just dreaming of it? See you at the EXPOS coming up!