Fishing With Kenny: Cool Weather, Cold Water – No Problem
by Kenny Covington
In our part of the country, winter is the name of the season but that doesn’t mean we will be having winter type weather. However, Mother Nature will make sure we see cooler temperatures and much cooler water temperatures as well. We will also need to modify our approach to catching December bass.
I prefer to fish shallow but even I have to admit there are times when I have to fish in other ways to have success on the water. That means fishing either deeper areas, slowing down or a combination of both. The techniques that are successful in our cooler water temperatures aren’t complicated; they just require a different mindset to fish them properly.
One good aspect of fishing in the winter months is that it doesn’t require as many rod and reel combinations to be successful. Three or four will be plenty for winter time success. The following are the techniques that are most effective during our winter fishing season:
Carolina Rig: The key with a C-rig is the size of the lure and the length of the leader you will use. French fry type of lures such as a Centipede are a good choice this time of year. The aggressiveness of the fish and the type of cover you are fishing will determine your leader length. A short leader works well when fishing heavy cover; whereas, a longer leader will be more effective if the fish are sluggish and not in a chasing mode.
Drop Shot: I consider this to be an abbreviated version of a Carolina rig; however, it is a very effective tool when fish are relating to cover or structure and won’t move far to strike a lure. The Drop Shot rig will allow you to keep a lure in one area for a longer period of time, often provoking an inactive fish to bite. Your hook should be positioned no more than a foot or foot and a half above your sinker. I prefer finesse worms for this presentation and color is usually based on water clarity or sky conditions. Junebug or junebug/red is a good choice under dark water or cloudy conditions. Watermelon or green pumkin schemes are better choices on bright days and clearer water conditions.
Jig: My rule of thumb has always been the cooler the water, the smaller jig profile I prefer. Other than the fact that I tend to generate more bites and catch more fish this way, I have no logical reason for my choice. I keep my colors simple as I use either black or black/blue and I choose my trailers to match. Strikes on a jig can be hard to detect so when in doubt, set the hook.
Shakey Head: This is arguably the best lure to use when fishing boat docks, but it flat out catches fish no matter where you go. I like to use a 6 foot medium action spinning rod and a good 6/20 braided line, teamed with a 1/8th or 3/16th ounce shakey head and go to work. Simply cast the lure in and around the boat houses and work it slowly. I use the same color choices as I would when throwing a drop shot.
Rat L Trap: The most overlooked cold water lure, the Rat L Trap can be fished with just a slow steady retrieve and will catch fish even in the coldest of water temperatures. The Smokey Joe pattern is good this time of year.
Spinnerbait: 3/8th ounce bait with a single #4 Colorado blade with a chartreuse and white skirt and you are ready to fish. The best way to fish this lure is to cast it out and slowly retrieve it back to the boat. You want to feel the “thump” of the blade as it comes through the water column. Strikes can be anything from feeling the blade stop turning to a loading up on the rod; however, this is an excellent way to catch a bigger fish this time of year.
Also remember, these techniques are not just for deep water. I have had great success fishing in water less than 5 feet in even the coldest of air and water temperatures with all of these techniques. There is no substitute for trial and error and with our winters the way they are, bass fishing this time of year will require just that. Also as a reminder, please practice safety while on the water, hypothermia is dangerous and is not to be taken lightly. Wear enough clothing to keep you warm, and by all means, wear your lifejacket when running your outboard engine.
See you on the water!