Winter Bass

By Michelle Armstrong

Ever wondered where the bass go during the winter?  Me too.  But the reality is, they don’t go very far, literally.

They are cold blooded creatures, and they are smart.  They have fattened themselves up during to onset of fall because they knew what was ahead if them.  That being said, they still need to eat in the winter but they need to be more choosey during this time.  They aren’t going to leave the comfort of the warm rock bed or stump field to chase something that doesn’t gain them high caloric value.  They will however, chase big balls of bait that happen to swim close by.  I’m guessing, they see a big ball of bait swim by, and they know they can run through with that big mouth open and feast up quickly.  And with little effort.  Only to return to the warm area they left.

So what do we do? Become the bait! Sure, you can throw huge single swimbaits, big spinnerbaits, etc.  But for some real fun, become a whole school of bait!  You can do this with an Alabama rig… aka the “a” rig. When Mr Bass, open mouthed, runs through your bait ball, he’s got a 1 in 5 chance to get hooked.

There are several different versions of this rig and all fisherman have their favorite.  I’m no exception.  I fish with my spouse and we often compete (against each other) on the same boat with two….mine is the Yumbrella Flash Mob Jr. and Troy (the spouse) uses Shane’s Baits Mini Blades of Glory.  I rig mine with 20lb fluorocarbon line on a Powell Endurance 7’6 Med Heavy rod.  This is a heavy bait, much like trying to cast a wet beach towel, so I can depend on this rod to have control over this bait and get it as far or as close as I want.  I rig the four outer arms of my Yumbrella with 16th ounce  jig heads with white 3.5 Yum Pulse Swimbaits and the center arm gets a slightly larger 4.5.
The spouse (Troy) uses a similar rod with 20lb Silverthread fluorocarbon.  Same jig heads but with 3.5 Keitech Easy Shiner on all arms.

In the world of “a” rigs, these are more compact and can be used where other rigs can’t.  As a rule, (there are no rules in fishing) “a” rigs are open water, bait chasing baits.  These two can be thrown in shallower water, along docksides, and in tighter spaces. For instance, you can cast into a foot of water, then turn around and cast out to a deep break without ever changing baits.

I have to remind myself that fish use channels like we use highways. The places they hang out off the channels are like neighborhoods.  They continually revisit these places year after year.  They jump on the highways to go get fast food and then quickly return to the safety of the hood. In the Winter, Bass don’t like to expel ton of energy so I revisit places I know they reside and pick it apart.   These smaller “a” rigs are ideal for this.  Typically, you can move through one area “being the bait” and pick up 1 to 5 fish in a single cast.

Be ready for a day of fun!
Now go catch a fish.