Six weeks back my doctor told me that I wouldn't be able to fish for about a month due to a back injury. This forced time off the water gave me an opportunity to organize my tackle and prepare for the oncoming fishing season, but I wanted to get back out there. After another visit to the doc, I got the green light just in time for one of my favorite things….. Wintertime Bass!
My weekend started on Thursday when I presented a bass seminar at the ARC in Hampton. There was a great turn out and I gave some insight on the tactics I use to target bass during this tough time of year. Then on Saturday I went out and put my winter tactics to the test against some coldwater fish.
When I launched my Cuda 14 the fish finder read a water temp of 38.9 degrees. I knew that these fish would be glued to the bottom, and really sluggish. I looked for ledges in 10-15 feet of water with some brush on them. I hit several spots before I hooked up on my first fish, a 19.5in pickerel. On the next cast I hooked up with a small bass. I was throwing a finesse Carolina rig with a small straight tail worm. After a few more cast I moved on to the next ledge. This had everything I was looking for. It was a cut bank with a small shelf in 10 feet with some brush. Off the shelf it dropped out to 17 feet. I pitched my PTL stone dragger jig with matching T-rigged jig trailer. It didn’t take long before I was hooked up on a nicer fish. I landed a nice bass that measured 19 inches, my first good fish of 2015. I kept fishing down the ledge alternating between a Carolina rig and a jig. I picked up a few more small ones up to 15 inches.
Next I decided to fish a small ledge that my dad found over the summertime. My dad had already pulled a few small bass off of it today and had some good bites. I threw my jig on to the top of the ledge in about 13 feet. I started slowly dragging my jig into deeper water when it was hammered. I gave the fish a really good hook set and the fight was on. I knew right away that this was a GOOD fish. It pulled some drag and stayed deep. Once I worked the fish up towards the kayak I got my first good look at the fish. This was a STUD! I carefully kept fighting the fish waiting for it to get tired. I finally landed the beast and could feel the weight of it. This fish easily weight over 8.5lbs and was probably closer to 9lbs. It measured out to 24.5 inches and was nice and healthy. After some pictures I released her back to the ledge and called it a day.
Since it was MLK weekend I had Monday off from school. I took the opportunity to fish a different lake. Rain the day before muddied up the water and made for some tough fishing conditions. I caught several small bass pitching a jig into some deeper cover. I also caught a decent 18 inch largemouth out of a shallow laydown. I was heading back to the ramp when I stopped at one last brush pile in about 8 feet. My dad and I already hit this spot pretty hard, but it was too fishy to pass up. I pitched a jig up into and started slowly crawling it through the branches. I felt a slight bump and leaned back into the fish, but nothing moved. It felt like I had snagged a branch. I was working my kayak over there to un-snag my jig when the branch started moving. The fish had been wedged in the pile almost like a Tautog. I worked the sluggish fish towards the boat and grabbed it, and once again it was another BIG fish. It measured to be 23.5 inches and weighed around 7lbs.
This time of year can be really hit or miss. If you hit it right, however, it can be an awesome day. As long as you put in some research and time the big bass will be there.