Arctic Tactics

By Scott Norton

Why would any bass fisherman in their right mind fish the cold weather? There are many reasons for choosing to do so. Did you know that the warmer the weather is, the more competition you will have. This is just one tactic to use to catch that trophy fish you always wanted. This is not for all fishermen, but for the few that take the challenge, you can invoke the spirit of Captain Ahab. This is the time of year that what bites you get, will be big bites.

Fishing in the deepest of winter offers more rewards than you think. Large bass still have to feed to support their body mass. Small bass will stop biting as they have stored what is needed to get through cold months. If you think this is for you, you must throw away everything you think you know about bass fishing. I believe most anglers struggle to find a starting point when it comes to winter catches. If you are looking for the starting point, then I would say think about the hottest time of the year. Now most anglers can relate to that, seeing as it is a more comfortable time to fish. Ask yourself where do they go in the summer? How do they like the bait to be presented? The answer is slow, very slow, and deep.

I will say that some of the baits will change in the winter. What you want is the “do nothing version” of what you use in the summer. Think about a jig, this is when you want to downsize. Think about a crank-bait, this is when you want the tight action version. Think about the swim bait, go big and crawl it very slow on the bottom. Everything is the same with the exception of using the opposite of the same version.

The one thing that gets a fisherman is upsizing your baits for cold water. This is usually the plan of winter, go big or go micro. The trick is to present them slow, painfully slow. You need to do your research of which baits were designed for that situation. Some cross over from hot water fishing. I will say if you can drop down on reel speed, now is the time to do so unless it is a jerk bait or a bottom contact lure.

You will want to be prepared when going out this time of year. This is the time of year you do not want to cheap-out on warm gear to wear. Do not get me wrong, it can get dangerous out there so you will want to plan for that, Make sure you are in the comfort zone but you have a plan in case it gets worse. I will say, I would recommend going out in the cold if you are an un-experienced angler, at least by yourself. Find someone with experience; chances are they have not gone themselves because they cannot find someone to go with. Some only want to go with someone out of a concern for their own safety and some go alone because they know what to plan for.

Try it out and maybe this will enable you to learn more and have fun at the same time.

Scott Norton is a Western North Carolina native. Born in Asheville, N.C., he is a long-time hunter, angler and weekend warrior.