When the weather is cold, your fishing game doesn’t have to go cold too. We’ve rounded up a collection of winter fishing tips from the Rheos Pro Staff team, so you can keep your addiction to tight lines going strong throughout the year.
Photos by: Rick Talbot & Mitchell Bierman, Rheos Gear Pro Staff Members
Winter Fishing Tips from Mitchell Bierman
As a fisherman in the Midwest, it can be hard to find water that is not frozen during the months of December, January and February. Now, of course, we fishermen have adapted in the North and we pursue ice fishing as an alternative to fill our addiction of a tight line. However, if your favorite lake is not frozen over yet, that means there is still open water for you to pursue bass in a boat or from the shoreline! These winter fishing tips below are my recommendations to help an angler be successful in the frigid waters of the Midwest.
1. Fish slow
What it means to fish slow is to slow down the retrieval of your lures. This time of year, a fish’s metabolism slows way down and as a result they become very lethargic and do not like to move very fast due to the cold-water temperatures. Slowing down your retrieval of your lure, like a jerk bait or a crank bait, will allow the bass to come to your lure easier and increase your chances of a strike.
2. Fish on bottom
During winter months, the warmest water in the lake will be on the bottom. This is why a lake freezes from top to bottom and not bottom to top, as most of you probably already knew. This is where bass will congregate, on bottom in the warmer water, because fish are cold blooded which means they get their body temperature from the water temperature that surrounds them. So, using lures that are bottom focused will help better your odds of finding a group of bass that may be looking for their next bite to eat.
3. Use cold water lures
My lure choice for targeting cold water bass is the deep suspending jerk bait. This bait will allow you to target those deep suspending bass on bottom. To use this bait effectively you will want to retrieve a jerk bait very fast at first, once casted, in order for the lure to get down toward the bottom of the lake. Then let the lure sit and sit and sit. That fast action when the lure first hits the water could attract investigative bass. Letting the jerk bait sit will allow those sluggish bass the ability to come check out your lure. If no bite ensues after a few seconds, then rip the jerk bait through the water in three rapid retrievals. Then let the jerk bait sit again and repeat. This technique replicates an injured or dying bait fish, which means an easy meal for an already sluggish bass.
More Winter Fishing Tips from Rheos Pro Staff
“Sunglasses are a must for ice fishing. Going “snow blind” is a real thing, and a good pair of polarized glasses will protect your eyes while you’re out enjoying the frozen water. Hand warmers in the palms of your fingerless gloves keep your hands warm while fishing the rivers in winter. Fingerless gloves allow you to tie on baits and fish without your fingers freezing because of the hand warmers. Finally, my best tip is to just plan a trip to Cabo during the cold months and catch Mahi Mahi in 80 degree weather! Way better than fishing in the cold!”
“Scent is a must. Adding scents like Liquid Mayhem will draw more strikes, and fish tend to hold on to your lure longer. Listen to the fish if you catch them on reaction baits. Stay with reaction baits until they give you another clue or the bite slows down! Lastly, eye protection is not just for summer time. Having proper sunglasses to protect you from wind, snow, sleet and rain… Not just sunlight.”
ABOUT THE PROS
Mitchell Bierman is an avid angler from Michigan who can frequently be spotted with tight lines and bent rods on Spring Lake. His recent accomplishments include reeling in a personal best large mouth bass at 7.12 Ibs. You can follow along with Mitchell on Instagram @mitchbierman.
Rick Talbot is addicted to targeting new fish species; both freshwater and saltwater. There’s no place on earth he won't go and no legal technique he won't try to add to his species list. And it’s working: 140+ species landed so far. Check out Rick’s blog for more or follow him on Instagram @ricksreeladventures.
Bill Wassmann is a self-described fishing freak who loves sharing his tips and tricks with others. Fishing has been his passion ever since he was a little kid watching Bob Cobb on Bassmasters. Now Bill spends a lot of his time promoting and teaching bass fishing. He’s tournament fished for over 20 years and loves to compete. Follow Bill on Instagram @wildbillwassmann.