Mar 10, 2016

Adapting To Catch Bass When The Water Is Cold 

As you begin to target largemouth this spring, the water temperatures are still cold.  This means that the activity level of a largemouth bass is also decreased.  They are still ready and willing to eat, but downsizing your presentation and slowing down your retrieve will help save your day from being a total bust.

A finesse application that I turn to when fishing cold water, is a shaky head.  I’ll fish this on a Wright & McGill 7’2” Victory Pro Carbon spinning rod and pair it with a Victory Pro Carbon spinning reel that is spooled with 10 lb. Seaguar TATSU Fluorocarbon line.  With this combination I can make extremely long casts and feel the lightest bite, both of which are critical when fishing for bass in cold water.

I’ll use a shaky head jig that weights 3/16 oz. the majority of the time because it allows me to make a long cast and maintain a good sense of the bottom; which is important because that is where the fish holding cover I’m targeting are located.

What makes the shaky head technique/lure so versatile is that you can just shake the jig, upon it resting at the bottom.  This retrieve is very effective when casting to isolated cover, so you are able to keep the bait in the strike zone for the longest amount of time possible. 

I like to dress my shaky head with a Zoom Finesse worm as it gives the bass a nice compact presentation to key in on.  With Zoom baits, the plastic is soft enough where the fish will bite down and not let go, but at the same time, you won’t have to be re-rigging on every cast.  For colors, I like to keep it simple, and always have a supply of green pumpkin, watermelon red flake and black/blue on hand.  The water clarity I’m fishing will dictate which color I go with.

Finesse doesn’t just mean fishing small lures, it also means fishing slow.  When that water is cold and those bass aren’t moving much, they are looking for a big meal when they do want to feed.  That is why tying up a jig is still a viable option; you just have to fish it slow.

For the jig, I like to flip a ½ oz. black and blue War Eagle Flipping Jig with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer, as this will help draw a reaction strike out of the bass, but also with flipping a heavier jig I can flip that jig farther and cover more water.

When I flip my jig out to the cover I’m fishing, I’ll let it sink all the way to the bottom.  Be sure to watch your line on the fall, because a bass may hit your jig on the fall and your line may only twitch a slight bit.  Once my bait hits the bottom, I let the rod do the work.  Ever so slightly I lift it up and then let it sink.

As I mentioned, when using a jig or a shaky fishing that slowly will increase your chances of having a successful day on the water.  To do this, I rely on my dual Minn Kota Talon’s.  When I’m around a key piece of fish holding cover, I’ll deploy my Talon’s, this way I can focus on the cast I made and pay attention for a lite biting bass.

As the air temperatures begin to rise this spring, bundle up, grab some of your favorite finesse lures and go target bass in that cold water, because like you, they’ve been waiting all winter for some action!


Cold Weather Fishing Gear

It is important to take several precautions when heading out on the water early in the year when the water temperatures are cold and there aren’t many other boats out on the lake or river.

  1. Pack a dry set of clothes in a waterproof Plano box. This way, should you get wet; you can quickly dry off and put on some warm clothes.
  2. Have a good quality rain suit, this will not only keep you dry from rain or waves, but also help break the bone chilling wind. You’ll see me wearing my Simms Pro Dry Jacket and Bibs anytime I’m on the water early on in the year.
  3. Making it back to the ramp is every angler’s goal, which is why wearing an inflatable life jacket is important. I can fish in comfort and effectively all day in this and know that if I would fall in, I would stay afloat.

Glenn has been fishing tournaments for over 10 years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos.  He keeps busy fishing events across the Midwest and on the Mississippi River.  Glenn's sponsors include:  Ducky Products, Humminbird, Jeff Belzer Chevy, Mercury Marine, Minn Kota, Plano, Rayjus, Seaguar, Simms, Snag Proof, The Rod Glove, TroKar, Wright & McGill and Zoom Baits.  For more information check out or on Facebook at