How to break the ice with a bite

2013-06-15 00:00

BETTER late than never they say and that is Mother Nature’s excuse for the delayed onset of what looks to be a bitter winter.

Fortunately our days are bright and mild, and so should your disposition be when it comes to targeting winter bass.

Albeit cold, bass still need to eat and you still need to fish so just prepare accordingly and know what to look for. The rest is easy — well relatively. If there is one factor that needs to be in the forefront of your attack over the next two months, it is the locating and targeting of hard bottom, gravel rocks. When they get frigid, rocks are like bass magnets. There are slightly warmer temperatures in these zones, as well as their providing a habitat for crustaceans such as crabs and crawfish. I have no doubt that our local bait species will not be too far from these areas.

These forms of cover can be found on off-shore humps, drop-offs and in river channels, as well as obvious rocky banks. Instead of just fishing a rocky bank, you should be looking for banks that sport a 45 degree to 60 degree angle, which will ensure slightly deeper water — a much needed factor. Not only this, steeper banks generally account for more rock falls and gravel slides over the years, which means that a fair way off the bank, the bottom should be littered with broken rock and gravel. These are the key areas, as they get overlooked and are found adjacent to the obvious targets.

By paying attention to your electronics and incorporating some common sense, you could find yourself locating fish that don’t get bothered. Key depths will be those between 15 feet and 25 feet, and the closer to aggressive contours you are fishing, the better chance you have of locating the mother-lode. A drop-shot rig is probably your best gamble in these areas, as you can fish this rig in one spot for as long as you need to elicit that sluggish bite. Your movements should be kept slow and methodical, and the mind-set of covering less water more effectively should drive you. Football jigs and shaky-head rigs are also top bets for targeting rocks, and presentations should be kept compact and natural and fished on lighter line than you normally would.

My favourite colours include variations of green pumpkin, with a hint of orange or chartreuse thrown in. Remember that everything happens slower in winter — the forage moves slower and so do the bass. So keep your presentations in line with this thinking. Making contact with the cover is extremely important.

I guarantee that you will be fishing around fish most of the time, but making them bite is what counts. A bait deflecting off the cover is the first step in getting winter bass to bite.

This erratic, yet natural, change in presentation creates attention and often triggers that hard to get bite, and should be experimented with at different angles until you break the ice with a bite.

Find the right cover in the form of rocks or gravel, be it off-shore, along rocky banks or rocky points, and fish slowly and carefully with the right baits. It is imperative that you keep your bait in the strike-zone for as long as possible, and ensure your bait is where it needs to be and that is making contact with as many rocks as you can.

So get out on the lake and catch some bass, and remember to release your catch alive to prolong the sustainability of this resource. E-mail me with reports, pictures and questions at zorthewitt@hot

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