By Marc Rogers
Winter Jig Fishing for Bass
Cold water causes the metabolism of bass to slow drastically compared to the warmer water of spring through fall. When fishing for bass during the cold season anglers should remember to slow down their presentation to be effective. One of the best lures for a slow cold water presentation is the skirted jig.
Bass sometimes don’t feed more than once per week during the winter season. A big profile jig with a full skirt and large trailer is often the best choice for winter fishing. The large profile gives the impression of a large meal requiring less effort from the bass to get a filling meal. Some anglers prefer a rubber-skirted jig instead of a silicone skirt as rubber skirts are more full and billow out during a slow presentation.
For many years a lot of anglers choice of jig trailers for cold water was the pork frog. The natural pork skin is more buoyant than soft plastic and can provide more action at a slower retrieve. The disadvantage of natural pork trailers is they will dry out if not kept wet during use. They can’t be left on a jig and stored on the deck while not in use for long periods of time.
Soft plastic trailers became popular for their ease of use but many anglers still resisted their use in colder waters. Anglers felt buoyancy of the pork trailers helped to achieve a slower presentation than a soft plastic trailer. However, the newer designs of soft plastic trailers are becoming more popular each season. The newer designs have hollow bodies to help with the buoyancy problems of solid body trailers.
Midwest Fishing Tackle Pro-Staff members Alton and Aaron Hunter use the NetBait Paca Chunks exclusively for jig trailers. They say the flat craws create great action with a lift and fall presentation. Aaron uses a lift and fall presentation even in cold water and says, “I just let the lure sit still a little longer when paused to give the bass a longer opportunity to pick it up”. Aaron seldom presents a jig with a dragging motion as he feel the jig gets the attention of the bass when lifted even though they will not generally strike a fast moving lure. Aaron says, “the NetBait Paca Chunk is made of very soft plastic and tears easily but the extra trailers used in a day is worth the added action they produce”.
Many anglers use jigs in cold-water conditions. However, many present the lures to fast for the lethargic bass. You should use a slow dragging presentation or a modified, slow lift and drop retrieve when the bass will allow for the faster action. It is always best to start with a slower presentation during cold-water conditions. If the bass appear to be active relative to the colder water you can experiment with a little faster retrieve.
There are many styles of jig heads available to choose from. However, for rock covered bottoms my choice is a football head design. This design will not hang in the rocky bottom as most other styles of jig heads. Also, the hook eye is positioned so the knot isn’t exposed to the cover and damaged resulting in broken lines once a fish is hooked. My personal choice of jigs is the Midwest Custom Jigs Football jig. The 60-degree bend on the hook eye aids in keeping the knot from making contact with the bottom causing damage to the knot.
During cold-water conditions many lures can be effective in catching bass. However, when bass are looking for one big meal to sustain their needs with little effort a crawfish meal can’t be beat. Crawfish are high on the list for food during cold-water conditions as they provide a nutritional meal, are abundant during cold-water when baitfish are harder to find. Crawfish are slower moving and easier for the bass to catch when looking for a meal.
Don’t be discouraged to fish for bass during cold-water conditions, as they will bite. Try a jig next time out and slow down the presentation. Experiment with the presentation but start slow as the bass’ metabolism is slowed down and they require less food during these conditions.