Winter can be great for big catches, but we are now entering the really cold months and the bites will slow down. The key to fishermen that get the itch to fishing the winter is downsizing. This is a really good time to focus more on finesse and slowing way down. You will need light line and hooks for this technique. The good thing is the fishing industry has created some interesting technique-specific set ups such as the BFS set up. BFS stands for Bait Finesse System and if you have not heard this term, you will soon. Now you can use bait casters to finesse fish and you’re no longer forced to use a spinning set-up if you don’t want to. The advantage in the BFS set up is that you make longer casts without the line twist.
Now it’s time for the pre-plan; most anglers will travel south to get into warmer water. If you like to keep it local, just find a lake in lower elevations. Rainwater runoff warms lake water rapidly. If you live in the mountains, you do not have to go far to find one these spots. The water will still be cold, but it is about the water warming up as a trend, especially on warm days. If you can find a time and place where these scenarios come together, you will have your pre-plan set up for success. This is now the time to look at Google Earth for a place you think these bass will be hanging around. Google Earth provides you with a time laps of these areas so you can see when the water was low, revealing under water structures and cover you will want try out. The plan you make ahead of time will greatly increase your odds of catches. Looking at these features will tell you what you’re going to use as well. Knowing what you’re going to use in those spots you choose will keep you from taking too much gear with you as well.
When selecting your spots, do not stay too long in one place. You can fish slow, but you want to think about finding that first bite as a starting point. Once you have established that, then you can go back over those spots in different times. Maybe the other spots will turn on later in the day. You can still power-fish those long tapering points with a crank bait or an A-rig to see what the mood of the fish is like. Just pay attention to what the bass are wanting, they will let you know. I hope this helps some of you going out this month. Have fun and maybe you will learn a new way to catch fish.
Scott Norton is a Western North Carolina native. Born in Asheville, N.C., he is a long-time hunter, angler and weekend warrior.