Strategic Mapping

By Scott Norton

When you talk about going to the lake in 20 or 30 degree weather, people tend to think you’re crazy for doing so. This time of year can have some of the best situations for going. With the proper planning the odds can stack in your favor. Don’t forget that the fish that do bite are of quality. Large bass still have to feed to maintain their mass in the winter months. You will usually notice that you’re the only boat on the water with unpressured fish. Take advantage of all the benefits that winter fishing has to offer.

You will need to have a good strategy if you want things to go your way. You have to know where the best spots on the lake are, and those spots have to be where the fish are as well. Most techniques are slow in speed, but many anglers have a good day speed cranking. Just know you may have to fish very slow, therefore, go for the best spots first. The days are short, so you don’t have a lot of time to fish like you have in the warm months. Prioritize your areas and try to hit each one of them at the right time. When you fish long enough you learn to go with your in-stinks.

When selecting setups to use, I normally will put away the conventional sized baits and go with finesse or slow moving big baits. There are two reasons for this: One, the big baits have drawing power with the appearance of a big easy meal, and two, small do-nothing baits will force a bass to feed when they are not in a mood to feed. I have been seeing anglers going against the grain and speed cranking. I have even heard that people are night fishing in the winter using big baits for giant catches. Wintertime fishing normally was thought to be slow speed with small baits, but now newer techniques are being discovered where previously it was thought you couldn’t catch them in those ways.

When these strategies are working, your day can be ruined by dead batteries or underdressing on a cold windy day. All the planning in the world is no good when you experience a failure on your boat. If a battery is close to the end of its life you will usually find out in cold weather. If you’re not sure how close you are, it would be smart to have them tested, or just bring them indoors if your boat is an outside boat. If you’re on a budget and cannot afford good fishing bibs and a coat, you can save money by getting these items where you buy work attire. Not long ago fishing was very primitive and cheap to do. Though technology has pushed this sport to new heights, some things still work from those primitive days.

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