Winter bass habits and behaviors are frustrating, and lead a lot of fisherman to just target other species or take a break until the water starts warming up and the fish get more active. There is a huge difference in understanding the different patterns bass follow, and understanding the biology that causes those patterns. Here are four helpful facts that will help you understand why bass behave certain ways in the winter pattern.
The cold water literally slows them down-
Bass are cold blooded, meaning their body temperature is regulated by their surroundings, and just like reptiles, colder body temperatures lead to slower movements and a more lethargic behavior. Bass are far less aggressive during the winter months and that’s why most winter techniques involve putting large appetizing meals right in front of their faces.
Cold bass don’t move very far-
Bass normally roam pretty good areas of water in warmer periods, and travel up and down lakes from shallow to deep areas searching for food and good structure. In the winter, bass movement is more vertical than anything and they will still change depths but in a much more vertical manner. Rather than going from the mouth of a cove to the back of a cove, they will settle in deeper water near humps or structure and move shallower while still retaining that quick access to deep water. That’s why winter schools of bass tend to concentrate on humps, channel drop-offs and ledges.
When you are 20 ft deep, the water temperature doesn’t change as much as the surface –
In the summertime when surface temperature are around 80 degrees F, the water temperature at 20-30 feet can be 60-70 degrees. While warm water rises in the winter, the surface is the first to freeze, When your at 20-40 feet deep a daily temperature swing can be around 2-6 degrees if it changes at all. The surface water temperature will be warmed by the sun and heat up, and since it’s warmer than the water below, it doesn’t sink and just continues to warm up all day long. Bass are very sensitive to temperature changes and while they like to get warm they don’t like to subject themselves to big temperature swings, so they stay deeper because the deep water is far more stable in terms of temperature changes.
Small bass are the most aggressive schooling fish in the winter-
Bass school up in the colder months, chase schools of bait fish and huddle up to talk about all the weird baits they saw over the year. When fishing in the winter when you find a school of bass the first fish to hit your lure will more than likely be a small ones. Once you catch one or two and really pinpoint the school with your fish finding lure, slow it down and present a much larger and slower moving lure to them and you will more than likely start to increase on average size of fish, or if nothing else increase your fish to cast ratio. Larger flutter spoons are a great middle bait, it’s a great lure to find the schools of fish but it also falls slowly enough to entice the bigger bass out of the school.
I hope this article helps explain a few details on why bass do certain things in colder water. Next weeks blog post will cover Alabama rigs, and there rapid rise to the top of bass fishing, as well as other options and variations to the classic 5 wire lure that swept the bass fishing circuits by storm.