In this part of the country, most really big fish are caught through the winter months, December through March. This month I say, “let the games begin!”
The weather will be the biggest player in your success or failure. As cold fronts blow through, Florida bass get lock-jaw making it hard to catch anything, let alone that trophy. Plan trips after weather has a chance to stabilize. Even if it stays cold for an extended period, once we get into several days of it, big bass will eat. If the weather warms for a few days, this will simply change your tactics.
Water temps affect bass positioning and behavior big time, but I’ve had bass crush a top-water frog after a stabilizing period of a few days with water in the low 50’s to high 40’s. Sometimes I feel like we should all just throw the bass fishing rule books out this time of year because of what I’ve seen over the years. You’d think a cold-blooded creature like a bass would never strike with lightning speed on a top-water but they will…not often, but the ones I’ve had do it were monsters!
There’s no doubt that finesse presentations will get you more bites. Whacky-rigging a soft plastic worm or stick bait is a great approach. Drop-shoting a finesse worm or rigging one on a light wire jig like a Giggy Head jig will work well too. I’ll often utilize these approaches but more often than not, I’m going big.
A Gambler Double weed guard jig is my choice for that big bite. I tip it with a Gambler Mega Daddy craw to give it a bulky crawfish look. Bass do not have to eat as often in the cold due to a slow metabolism, but they do like to get a big meal when presented properly. This jig is designed to go deep into the thickest nastiest looking wood and grass cover you can find, which is right where big bass will be. I don’t cast this with a wimpy set-up. I’m usually using the ¾ ounce size, so a 7’ 6” med-heavy stick with 65 lb. test braid is recommended.
It’s cold out and it’s not for the faint of heart…go big or go home! I’m kidding…just go and enjoy this time of the year, the fishing is great!
Good fishing and God bless and have a Merry Christmas!
CAPT. RANDY “C-NOTE” CNOTA
Panama City, FL