Winter Bass Fishing
By Jason Houchins
Winter. Cold, miserable, freezing, snow, and everything else you don’t think of when you think of bass fishing, that’s winter. Or is it? Actually I don’t fish much in the winter, this is my down time from bass fishing. This is when I like to mentally recharge for the next tournament season. I fish more tournaments than I should, and for me it’s critical to step away for an extended period of time. But every once in a while I do get the itch to go in the winter, and when I do it has been quite surprising.
For one thing you have no pressure at all. Nobody else is crazy enough to go out when its 35* out and the wind is blowing out of the north at 15-20 mph. Another thing is that the fish are usually bunched up together in one way or another. I’m a shallow water guy, that’s how I like to catch them, I don’t have trouble doing this in the winter. Now I’m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying it’s quite rewarding and you just might be shocked at what you can catch winter time bass fishing.
One of my most memorable winter trips was with a good friend, Rob Grike. He is a diehard tournament angler from Dumfries, VA. We were fierce competitors for many years on the local tournament seen and we still compete every now and then on a regional level today. He invited me to go out fishing with him on a local lake and I quickly agreed. He had a 14’ jon boat we could use for the day, no need to take the bass boats out for this. As we met that morning, I remember the sky being a big gray blanket over the lake, spitting small little ice pellets out. I looked at him and said that we had to be crazy going out fishing today, we were total diehards. As we launched the boat the cracking of ice could be heard as it echoed off the lake. The cove we launched in was totally covered with a thin layer of ice and we wondered if we would make it out to the main channel. Well we did and the water temp was a balmy 38*, yeah it was cold, but it wasn’t frozen so we could fish.
We started fishing some dead vegetation on the north side of the lake close to the main channel. As we casted our jigs to the edge of the dead vegetation, we were constantly forced to stick our rods in the water to free the eyes from ice. After a few casts, my jig feel off the edge of the grass and into the main channel, thus began some of the greatest bass fishing anyone could ever experience. The number of fish we caught that day was only exceeded by the shear quality of every fish. Although no giants were taken, every fish would fall between 3-5 pounds. As the sleet turned into snow the fishing only got better. We continued to make memories until darkness and our need for warmth would take over.
That day will always stick in my memory of what winter bass fishing can be like. It’s not always going to be that way, but it can be. Those fish were stacked on a main channel drop in one area of the lake gorging on crayfish. That’s just an example of what can happen this time of the year if you’re out there. That may not be the normal, but bass fishing can be better than you think. I just spoke to a really good friend who caught them really good while out on New Year’s Day. All I’m saying is don’t be fooled by the temperature, a bass will eat this time of year, and their whole life is about eating. I can also tell you that she will also have a few friends with her eating as well. So if the urge hits you to hit the lake, go for it! You may have a memory waiting.