Pro’s Picks for Cold Water Bassin

Cold Water Spoonin’ With Tim Horton

A flashy slab of metal with a hook attached to one end and a split ring to the other, spoons are one of the oldest fishing lures. Few other cold-water lure presentation come close to accomplishing what an angler can do with a jigging spoon. When properly manipulated by the angler, these lures imitate an injured or struggling baitfish. Predators will find an injured baitfish an easier meal and always grab those first. Location:Jigging spoons really shine when predators are deeper than 15 feet. I think, the most comfortable spoonin’ depth is 20 to 35 feet. Heck, its possible to spoon jig in 40 to 50 feet, if that is where the baitfish and gamefish are located, but at those depths, chance are any fish you bring up will not survive release. The depthfinder is used to locate baitfish and suspected gamefish on deep structure. It assists in finding search points extending into the lake, creek channels lips with stumps or standing timer, deep rock piles and ledges.Presentation:In cold water, the most efficient way to jig a spoon is right over the top of the suspected group of fish. It’s called vertical jigging. Vertical jigging is simply a matter of free-spooling the spoon straight down to the bottom or to a mid-depth, where the action is happening. Bass may hit the spoon during its initial descent, but if it makes it to the bottom or mid-depth location as observed on the sonar, you will have to try a few different lift and drop techniques. Normally, I start by lightly pumping the rod, raising the spoon about 12 to 18 inches, then letting it fall back on semi slack line. My next would be a harder rod snap to make the spoon jump 2 to 3 feet to see if that will draw a strike.Cold-Water Spoonin’ Winter 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (Darl Black pg. 46-48)

Creek Run-ins For New Year Bass

In January bass anglers have to keep everything in the right perspective. “It’s not April or May. It’s cold, and you have to understand that fish are lethargic and the bite will be slow. On a typical January day you probably won’t catch many fish, but their average size will be bigger than in the warmer months. It’s not unusual to wind up with about the same five-bass weight as you’d have in Spring. You just don’t cull through as many fish to get there,” so says Ott DeFoe, Bassmaster Elite Series angler from Knoxville, TN.Location:“I fish a fairly simple pattern in January,” he says. “I look for where running creeks empty into the backs of major embayments and for water that’s a few degrees warmer than the water in the lake proper. So they’re in predictable spots and they’re biting better. That can make for some good fishing. The best part of the day is usually from noon to 3 PM,” he says. He eases up the creek, casting crankbaits into deeper holes, typically along outside bends of the channel. “The bass are usually holding near the bottom of the deepest areas,” DeFoe says. “In Winter, it’s important to fish the sunny side of any cover instead of the shady side. It’s all about warmth. The fish are more active in warmer water and you have to keep that in mind as the day progresses.”Lure Selection & Presentation:DeFoe’s number one go-to coldwater baits are a No.5 & No.7 Rapala Shad Rap, which he fishes on light spinning tackle. He uses the No. 5 for fishing water less then 5 feet and the No.7 for water 7 feet deep. If a channel stretch or hole has some water color and visibility is degraded, DeFoe switches to Rapala DT 4 or DT 6 crankbait, which has a wider, more noticeable wobble than the Shad Rap. If the barometer is high and the bass are inactive, DeFoe tries casting or pitching a Taby Tackle jig & pig or a creature bait to any rock or wood cover. “I’ll work both these baits with a slow, steady drag. I do most of the pulling with my rod tip. I want my bait to look like a crawfish slow crawling along the bottom,” he says.


Creek Run-ins For New Year Bass January 2012 Bassmaster (Wade L. Bourne pg. 60-62.)

Paul Elias’ January Lure Selection

Longtime pro Paul Elias revels at the chance to fish a cold January day. He says that the fish are easily patterned and are near their heaviest this time of year. “January is one of the best months to fish. They’re in a solid winter pattern and when you find ‘em, you should be able to catch ‘em for six weeks or so,” the Mississippi pro said. Elias recommends you fish deep structure this time of year, as it is most likely to hold chilly bass. Here’s what Elias throws in January. Mann’s Stone Jig:Elias’ go-to bait this month is a 1/2oz Stone Jig in black and blue. With the tried-and-true bass catcher, Elias targets steep-dropping bends. He dresses it with a complimentary Mann’s HardNose Craw. This is what stays in his hands most of the month. “A jig is going to be your best bet this month,” he says. Elias slowly drags this black and blue package. Pumping and winding can seem unnatural to a chilly bass. Plus, experience tells Elias that bass aren’t willing to chase a fast moving bait, unless it’s presented right in front of them.Jerkbait:Elias uses this coldwater favorite to probe 5 to 7 foot riprap banks that droop off sharply. “I’ll also use this on the shallow parts of the same points that I throw the jig to,” he says. He likes a purple model with pearl sides and a chartreuse belly. He’ll often swap the hooks out for No. 4 Gamakatsu short shanks. Elias retrieves his jerkbait with varying cadences until he gets a strike, which tells him how the fish want the lure presented. Catching more is a matter of replicating the successful cadence.Mann’s 20+ Crankabit:

This deep diver helped Elias set the all-time, four-day weight record on Falcon Lake in 2008. It is what he uses to wreak havoc on bass that are wadded up on ledges adjacent to spawning flats as well as deep creek channel bends. He recommends that you look for fish in 18 to 20 feet of water. “They should be wadded up in a pack this time of year, so you can catch more than one from the same spot a lot of the time,” he says.

Drop Shot Rig:

This is what he and many other pros rely on when the going gets tough. Near-frozen bass aren’t the most cooperative, so sometimes light line and medium action rods can save your day. “When the fish aren’t really feeding but I can see them on my graph, shaking this in front of them long enough usually gets a bite,” he says. Elias relies on a 6” Mann’s HardNose Finesse worm in green pumpkin or watermelon red with a 1/0 Gamakastsu short shank hook and 1/4oz weight.

What Paul Elias Throws In January January 2012 Bassmaster (David Hunter Jones pg. 21)

Wintertime Bass With Chad Morgenthaler

With the pressure of tournament fishing out of the way and the Summer boat traffic a distant memory, being able to enjoy a day on the lake can be tranquil slice of paradise. No matter which type of lake or river you fish, it’s important to start the day with a plan of attack. During this time of year, bass feed preparing for ongoing Winter, eating almost anything that swims or crawls. However, this doesn’t mean they are easy to catch or that one particular bait will be more effective than another. It requires an open mind, attention to detail, and access to a wide variety of baits. Location:I first begin the day by determining what type of cover the lake has to offer. If vegetation is plentiful, I scout the lake to determine type, location and depth. Once I have searched the lake, I begin in the area that offers the most available cover and the clearest water. I start my plan of attack at a weedline, keying in on any irregular features while paying attention to isolated mats, points bends and water depth. The back of coves where the bottom flattens and shallows out can be also be good. The other productive types of cover that I like to fish in the Winter are hardwood and rock. When a lake has hardwood cover, I always give it the respect it deserves. There have been hundred of thousands of fish caught on stumps and laydowns, the Winter months are no less productive.Lure Selection & Presentation:I have four go-to baits that I like to use. If the vegetation is scattered, I’ll tie on a 3/8oz Hawg Caller Sexy Shad spinnerbait with a double or triple willow combination. I also like Excalibur XR50 and XR75 series lipless crankabits in shad patterns. For fishing thicker vegetation when the water is above 50 degrees, the Spro Bronzeye Frog is my first choice. Last but not least, I like soft plastic creature baits such as a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver in hematoma or California 420. The Spro frog works great around all types of vegetation. I like to work it using a “walk the dog” retrieve. In heavier vegetation and around isolated mats, I use the Sweet Beaver coupled with a tungsten weight that’s just heavy enough to penetrate the mat. For visible hardwood cover, I start with a buoyant square-bill crankbait like the Lucky Craft RC 1.5 or 2.5 in the American shad or splatter back series. Making precise casts, bumping the structure and varied retrieval speeds are the keys to working this type of structure. Always target cover that is closest to the boat and work to the farthest point. By approaching structure in this manner, you are less likely to spook other fish when you catch one. 

Wintertime Bass 40 Degrees Plus Winter 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (Chad Morgenthaler pg. 88-89)






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About Mark

Mark Lassagne, born and raised in California is the creator of the popular, BASS ANGLER magazine. Mark a skillful professional angler, outdoor writer, promoter and top competitor on the western tournament circuits.


  1. Hi William,

    It looks like the editor of this article made a few mistakes. Starting with the Spring 2012 issue you’ll notice several improvements with our new editors and new editing process.

    Thanks for your comments

  2. William White says:

    I believe that Excalibur and XCalibur are separate companies that produce various crankbait. The 01/10/2012 by “Mark” titled “The Pro’s Picks for Cold Water Bassin,” read that Chad Morgenthaler said, “I also like Excalibur XR50 and XR75 series lipless crankbaits…” Although I’m certain Mr. Morgenthaler knows that he uses XCalibur lures and not Excalibur lures, Mark needs to make sure (I have an Excalibur XR50). To Mark’s credit, he did get the spelling correct under the XCalibur Xr-50 and Xr-75 artwork. Mark, like many young writers today seem to have a problem with such words as “It’s” (it is) instead of “its” and you’re (you are) instead of “your.” This appears to be a common problem with some on-line writers today and our younger population in general.

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