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Winter Bass Patterns - Freshwater Fishing

How To Catch Bass In the Winter

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Bass do not feed in icewater! I don't know why I have to learn this over again every year. Every year a few warm days and nice weather will make me think I can catch a bass. Usually, I am wrong!

Since bass are cold blooded, their bodies are the temperature of the water. Their activities are controlled by the temperature. The colder the water, the slower their hearts beat, the less oxygen and food they need, and the less they move. Everything about them slows down.

In 70 degree water, a two pound bass might digest a one inch shad in six hours and be hungry again. In 50 degree water, it might take 48 hours to digest that same shad. If the water is below 45 degrees, I think the bass won't eat the shad in the first place. If it does eat one, it might take weeks to digest the food.

At Lake Jackson about this time January before last, six members of the Flint River Bass Club donated all the entry fees to the club since no one caught a bass in the first tournament of the year. We were all tied for first place for the year! It was a nice day for fishing, just not for catching. There was a constant stream of boats being launched all day as fishermen got drawn to the lake by the sun and warmth. The water temperature varied from 38 to 41 degrees in the places I fished. Van Kersey at his marina said he saw one bass on Saturday - and had heard someone caught one on Sunday!

Warmer days might improve fishing some but it will be tough to catch many bass before mid to late February. Hybrids and stripers would be your best bet, and crappie bite a little better than bass will in the cold water. You can also go to Lake Sinclair and other lakes with coal fired power plants and fish the warmer water from the steam plant. Crappie and bass fishing is improved by that discharge.

A club near Sinclair, the Baldwin Backlashers, had twenty members at Sinclair the same Sunday as Flint River fished at Jackson, and they managed to catch 17 bass. That was much better then we did on Jackson. The water temperature at Sinclair ranged from 50 to 52 degrees. Even so, the fishing was tough.

If you insist on fishing for bass this time of year, remember they are cold-blooded. They slow down so you should slow down to match them. Fish the smallest bait you can and fish it slower than you can stand to fish. Something that will stay in the same place right in front of a bass for a long time is best. A jigging spoon worked slowly up and down in the same spot may draw a strike from an inactive fish. A worm doodled in one spot by shaking the rod tip without moving the bait might be effective.

I have high hopes of catching a bass in January if the water temperature is over 50 degrees. I have a little hope if it is 45 to 50 degrees. Below 45 and I just about give up all hope. I guess it is a good thing I don't go ice fishing! The water in central Georgia hardly ever gets below 40 degrees.

Even if you can't catch a fish, being on the lake trying is a lot better than just about anything else you can do!

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