We cannot of course write anything about this winter (yet), but by the looks of things it’ll be much the same as the winter of last year – not that long but with a few weeks of really cold weather. There were quite a few outings last year when we preferred to remain in the cab with the heater on and Willy Nelson on the CD player than launch the boat into the thick mists coiling off the water.
We suppose this winter will be similar, and as it is our firm intention that our bassing must be totally enjoyable, we will once again not venture forth if the day is too darn cold! As for cold fronts, well, they are here to stay and if the truth be told the best time to fish this “:anti-bassing” phenomenon is a few days prior to it hitting your area and also – bear with us – while it is passing over. We have many records of catches made before and during a cold frontal situation, far more than catches made during the post-front period. Those clear, cloudless skies are definitely not prime bassing times! Which is not to say that bass cannot be caught under clear skies with bright sunshine just after a front has passed over – of course they can, but it can be very hard work indeed! But if your particular work or personal situation is such that the only day you can get out on the water is just after a cold front has hit, do so by all means. Even you do not manage to hook into a bass, you will at least have enjoyed plying your bassing art - and got some good casting practice into the bargain. And let’s face it – being out on the water is far better than grumpily moping around the house irritating everyone around you.
There has been such a lot written about winter bassing by a host of people – most of them far more knowledgeable than we are – that we considered it quite a waste of our and your time to write about the subject – until, that is, we received a number of calls from guys who were planning one or two outings during this month and wanted some guidance – simply because it would be their first ever winter bassing outing.
It did help that they had already read quite a bit about the topic, but as we chatted it was if we were delving into the topic for the first time.
We have written this before, but it bears repeating here, especially for those who have not had access to it. We identified five key factors when tackling bass during the cold, all of them based on sound scientific knowledge, knowledge gleaned from all the mounds of research by fishery biologists and others in the US – let’s not forget that over there they even fish for bass under the ice!
Here are our five key factors:
One: we know the bass are not feeding as aggressively as in summer, but we also know that they must eat, if only to maintain their normal body functions. This fact alone determines that it is quite feasible to go bassing in winter.
Two: We know that they will seek out a comfort zone and stay there unless certain, drastic changes occur. So we must seek out such places. The use of our sonar as well as a portable thermometer is very important. Use the thermometer to measure the temperature throughout the entire depth of the water column, not just the surface temperature.
Three: We know that the bass will only change location if they sense warmer conditions elsewhere, such as shallow areas warmed by the sun, or rocks or whatever. So we must check out the southwestern shoreline first (because it gets the sun from early morning).
Four: We must use baits that can be fished slowly but still give off good vibrations. They must also be highly visible. This key factor is highly enjoyable, what with all those lovely new baits on the market!
Five: We must pay attention to what is happening around us at all times so as to notice changes, however small, in the weather and what effect it has on the water. In this regard we can add that having one of those portable barometers – they look like watches or are added features to a wristwatch – is a definite advantage.
We regard these as the most important key factors that lie at the core of winter bassing, and each key of course can be discussed at length, but we reckon it is enough to go on. Take the key factor “Four” as an example: you don’t have to be out on the water to put it into practice but can be implemented while at home, and will certainly raise the level of enjoyment of your winter bassing adventures. You need baits “that can be fished slowly but still give off good vibrations…and also be highly visible”. Now here is something that puts the hand-rubbing pleasure into winter bassing – a great excuse to make another visit to the tackle store and seek out the baits that do exactly that, and if you are not certain, then ask the shop assistant. If he cannot help, well then that business does not deserve to be open when summer comes around!
Be strict when packing the tackle box, and take only those baits that meet the requirements, and when on the water do not be too lazy to change them around. Bear in mind that the actual fishing time in winter is less than in summer. When asked “why?” by one of our “students” the answer, namely that the sun appears later and sets earlier was met by a stunned look of amazement. “Should of thought of that myself,” he managed to stammer while his mates chuckled. Precisely! Think of key “Five” – be alert at all times, notice the changes as the day progresses and react to them. Keep on thinking and don’t just accept that the situation at any given time will remain so for the whole day.
We trust we haven’t bored you – well, at least not too much.
* “Bassaholic” is the pseudonym of two veteran bassers who have spent a lifetime chasing after – and catching their fair share – of bass around the bass fishing world. By browsing through their log books and drawing on their experiences they bring several valuable insights to the attention of readers in the hopes that by doing so they will assist readers to become better bass fishermen and women. Their motto: “Fish Better, Catch Better!”