This is the time of year that most anglers start to think about spring time fishing, the time of year they start to look over their tackle and kayaks and begin to prep for the warmer temperatures to come. This is also the time of year that a select few dedicated anglers are out on the water in the ultra-cold temps catching the bass of a lifetime. Everyone knows that fish are cold blooded and in the fall as the air temps cool down the water temps, the fish’s metabolism begins to slow down, note that I said slow down, and not come to a halt. It’s actually no secret that some of the largest bass of the year are caught during the dead of winter during the early stages of the pre-spawn. The thing about cold water fishing is that it takes a different mindset to be successful, something that our kids test on a daily basis, our patience.
Traditionally, the go-to winter time bass catcher has always been a jig with a trailer of some sort, usually a crawdad type bait. It has been proven over and over that this can be a winning combination as it is a large bait that can entice a fish to eat because it provides a lot of energy with minimal exertion of energy on the fishes part. Something I will be throwing to change things up this pre-spawn will be a 7” soft plastic jerk bait rigged on a Draggin’ Head type weighted hook.
I will be throwing this into a traditional deep wintering pool on a river that I fish often. The plan is to throw it out and let it sit still for 10-20 seconds at a time before I give it a subtle bounce or two. I plan on using a pearl color to mimic a dying shad. This is a proven color in this particular river for a soft plastic jerk bait. The water clarity is not great but is good enough for a fish to see this big white bait from several feet away.
Another tactic that I might try is to tie on a deep diving crank bait and use it as a cold water search bait, looking for that one active and hungry bass amongst all the lethargic fish. I have seen this pan out with great results for anglers in the past during the pre-spawn. You will not get many bites using this type of strategy but once again, this time of year you aren’t looking for many bites, you are looking for that single fish of a lifetime bite!
In conclusion, pre-spawn bass fishing can be a very rewarding time of year to fish if you are patient and go out there with the mindset that you are looking for big fish, not for a lot of fish!