Jig Techniques and Tips to Catch Winter Bass

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Do bass bite during the winter?

They sure do. With one caveat, however. 

It takes quite a bit of convincing to get them to get out of their sleepy routine and chase your offering.

That’s why jig fishing for bass during the cold months is the way to go.

Think about it like this: If you were to go out ice fishing for bass would you be casting? Nope. So you need to use the same principles of ice fishing to jigging for bass.

I’ll give you some winter jig fishing for bass techniques to think about plus some ice fishing for bass tips for when those lakes and ponds freeze over.

Types Of Jigs For Winter Bass Fishing

Regardless of your preferred brand or model, there are several steps you can take to increase your odds of fooling a lot of lethargic bass this winter. A few modifications can pay big dividends on the water.

There are two trains of thought when jig fishing throughout the winter; some anglers like to go big while other anglers go small. When I go fishing in the winter, however, I typically just want to catch a few bass. For this reason, I take the opposite approach and downsize my jigs to get more bites.

Remember, bass don’t feel like expending a lot of energy trying to eat so something small that doesn’t look like it will need to be chased are going to get more bites.

Tied jigs with skirts and weed guards are going to be your best bet.

Rock Crawler Tungsten Football Jig Kit

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A hand tied skirt plus matching weed guard highlight this effective jig. Use it any time of year, but follow the tips for jig fishing for bass with this jig.

Trimming the weed guard slightly will help you trick the bass by making the offering smaller.

If you want to make the jig even smaller, pinch the skirt below the collar and flip the jig upside down. Trim the jig strands above the collar down to a half-inch or less to give it a more traditional finesse jig look. Not only will this make the jig appear smaller, but it also makes the flare of the jig skirt more subtle, which is what you want in coldwater scenarios.

Adding a trailer to your jig is also a good idea, but don’t overdo it.

Crawfish, along with everything else in the water, become much less active during the winter months. No aquatic creatures are moving around quickly—bass and crawfish included. Knowing this, when jig fishing for bass, try to use plastic trailers that have a very subtle action; trailers that slowly undulate as opposed to something with an aggressive thumping action that displaces a lot of water. 

Where And How To Bass Fish During The Winter

Dragging the Rock Crawler Jig featured above along the bottom in deep water will trigger strikes from wintertime bass but sometimes “dead sticking” the jig is the most effective way to coax sluggish bass into biting.

When fishing offshore ledges, position your boat parallel to the ledge and dead stick a 3/4-ounce jig by crawling it along the bottom with extremely long pauses. After letting the jig sit for several seconds, shake the jig a couple of times and inch it along the bottom before pausing it again.  For more aggressive fish, slowly sweep your rod like a broom to make the jig bang along the bottom and then briefly pause the bait before sweeping again.

A 3/8-ounce finesse jig like the Reaction Tackle Tungsten Swim Jigs in brown or green pumpkin hues combined with a green pumpkin plastic chunk is ideal for catching wintertime bass along rocky shallows where bass seek the warmth of the rocks on sunny days. 

A creature can also be a great trailer as that natural presentation can sometimes lead to a huge bite.  Fan cast the jig on 12 to 14-pound test line and slowly hop it over the rocks for the best results.

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Ice Fishing For Bass Techniques

Ice fishing for bass is an elemental game of reduction. Rods shorten by 3 or 4 feet. Line thins down to a wispy thread, and reels shrink deep into the panfish category, all because the lures required often weigh less than 1/32 of an ounce.

Where To Look

Smallmouths and largemouths winter in different zones. Even in the same lakes, they tend to hold in different areas with different substrates. Largemouths prefer soft-bottomed, weedy areas and seldom seem to winter much deeper than 30 feet. During milder winters they stay close to healthy, green, deep weed edges. Smallmouths typically winter near hard-bottom points or on isolated rock humps 40 feet down or deeper where they have that option, but often rise shallower when active.

Bays are seldom homes for wintering bass. For largemouths, look for enclosed or isolated basins with a maximum depth of 20 to 30 feet, and then find the last remaining stands of thick, healthy weeds around the rim of that basin.

When To Fish

In stable, fair weather, smallmouths and largemouths both tend to rise up and move to shallower spots to feed. It all depends on the forage profile of a lake, of course. Most are looking for smaller minnows, but they feed opportunistically on smaller items they see. 

And, most of the time, they inhale those tiny offerings. The same jigs they would swim right past in summer without so much as a second glance.

Techniques

The best equipment for bass is precisely the best equipment for panfish through the ice, with a bit longer rod. A tiny reel with a good drag (Something like the Shimano Stradic 1000 ) is a must.

Insects, like aquatic worms and mayfly nymphs, schools of relatively small minnows and sometimes larger fare can attract bass in winter, but the time it takes to digest larger items increases for bass in cold water. 

Bass often prefer baits that circle or glide off-center on the drop.

Bass approach a panfish jig quite closely and stare at it for some time, and they soon leave if the jig doesn’t move in ways that hold their interest.

Don’t forget to jig the bottom for winter bass, but do it slooowly. Again, the fish are sluggish and don’t want to chase a fast-moving lure. Use any of the above-mentioned jigs and slowly twitch it up and down a foot or two above the bottom. 

Don’t be shy to bump the lure on the bottom and let it sit there for a few seconds. The bite is always subtle: the bass will gulp in the lure and just sit there, which feels like “weight” at the other end. Quickly set the hook.

Summary

Jig fishing for bass is not easy and you won’t be taking home any prize catches. If you can’t stand the thought of waiting until the spring thaw to get the rod out of storage then try these jig fishing for bass techniques and get out all year round. 

Then try out the same techniques for ice fishing and you can fill up an entire winter of fishing!

Do you have any winter bass fishing tips to share? Do you have any questions that the article didn’t cover?

Then drop a line in the box below with any questions or comment and I will get back to you quickly!

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