Bait makes all the difference
ONE OF MY FAVORITE WAYS to catch bass in the winter is with a big, single blade spinnerbait like a Colorado blade or an Indiana blade. The big spinner blade enables you to retrieve the bait slowly through cover. Adding a large swimbait trailer can also help—it adds buoyancy to the spinnerbait, enabling you to slow-roll the bait without it sinking too deep. My go-to blade is the hammered, deep-cupped Colorado blade and a white boot tail swimbait.
The slow thump of the large blade combined with the slow retrieve drives shallow winter bass crazy.
A square bill crankbait is another great presentation when fishing in 2 to 4 feet of water. Bass will get shallow in the winter; they love that slightly warmer water up around rocks and logs. Look for dark banks that absorb more warmth from the sun. The square bill crankbait has a built-in erratic action and can cause a reaction strike on its own, but glancing it off the rocks and cover will usually get you more bites.
I like to use a balsa square bill crankbait because of its buoyancy. When the bait contacts cover or when it hangs up, you can give your line some slack and with the extra buoyancy, the bait will float up and off the cover so you can continue your retrieve.
Getting a reaction
The purpose of this crankbait presentation is to get a reaction strike from bass when they aren’t necessarily feeding. The more you can get your crankbait to hit something and sharply glance off it erratically, the more chances you have of getting a strike. The reason for the deep running crankbait in shallow water is the ease in maintaining contact with the bottom. The angle of these deep runners is important. This angle helps to keep the hooks back and away from the cover you are contacting. This will help keep your bait and line from getting hung up.
The steep angle and quick dive of the deep-running crankbaits create the power with which the crankbait hits bottom or the cover. The banging and deflection of the crankbait almost always creates a reaction bite even when the bass aren’t feeding.
Winter bass fishing can be a little slow. With these crankbait techniques, you can get a few more bites each day. Crankbaits and winter go hand in hand if you prefer fishing the bank and shallow water. Remember, bass are ambush predators: target isolated stumps, rocks and any other place a bass might be and cover lots of water to locate the bass that will bite in the winter.