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Inactive Winter Bass

How Cold Is Too Cold


Since fish are cold blooded they get less active as the water they live in gets colder. January and February in Georgia can be a very inactive time for them and they can be real hard to catch.

Rule of Thumb for Water Temperatures

Over the years I have developed a "rule of thumb" for water temperature and catching bass. If the water is above 50 degrees I am fairly confident bass will feed and I can catch a few. Water temperatures between 45 and 50 discourage me and I think the bass are very inactive and very hard to catch. If my temperature gauge shows lower than 45 degrees I get a hopeless feeling.

I have caught bass in water colder than 45 degrees but not often. Clearer water helps. I have a little hope if I am fishing Lanier and can see down several feet, but if I am at Oconee and the water is murky I don’t expect to catch anything.

These temperatures hold up for middle Georgia. Up north they catch bass under the ice during the winter, and in south Florida I understand the bass shut down when the water is about 50 degrees. I guess it is what they are use to.

January Bass

In mid-January Al Bassett and I went to Jackson. Al is a member of the Lake Oconee Bassmasters and they had a tournament scheduled for Jackson for that Saturday. He asked me to show him some places I like to fish since he seldom fishes Jackson. He knew I had won a tournament there in December, too.

We put his Triton bass boat in at Martin’s Marina and turned on the temperature gauge. It showed 45.1 degrees and I told him I was afraid we would not catch anything at all. The weather was not good for fishing, either. Tuesday morning was bright, clear and cold since a high pressure front went through. I swear bass get headaches when there is a high pressure area over the lake!

Everything combined to make our chances look bad. At least the water was fairly clear. I told Al I was going to throw a jerk bait, a jig and pig and a crankbait. A Rattleback jig with a Yamamoto Twin Tail trailer was still tied on one of my rods and I showed it to Al and told him that was the jig I won the tournament on in December.

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