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Freshwater bass opportunities abound in the early winter, but you may have to slow down a bit to find success.
By Chris Prozor
Tags: freshwater
Blade baits like the Binsky are very effective early winter options on local waters before the ice sets in. Photo courtesy of Binsky Fish Sense Lures of Fords, NJ.

As winter begins to set it and just before the water hardens on your local lake, fish begin to get pretty inactive and catching them can be a struggle.

Because fish are cold blooded, colder water affects the way they act. They move slowly trying to use as little energy as possible; but there are some winter baits I like to throw that trick those finicky fish.

Blade baits are very effective this time of year because a cold, lazy fish is always looking for an easy meal. When you jig them up and down, fish will see it as a dying fish, and during winter they would rather eat a slow dying one than have to chase a healthy one.

Blade baits can also just be reeled in, but just jigging works for me. One of favorites are Binsky Vibrating Blade Baits because of their amazing vibrations, and the different line tying spots so that you get the action you want. Blade baits catch anything that eat bait fish, and are one of my favorite metal lures for winter.

Jerkbaits are all around great lures, and the erratic motion they have triggers bites. This time of year I like fishing a suspending jerkbait and only twitch it occasionally so it still looks like an easy meal. You will get a lot of hits when you pause on the retrieve so be prepared to set the hook. I keep it paused for about four seconds before I jerk again. Just like blade baits, these mimic a baitfish getting its last burst of energy out.

Jigs are a good choice too, and one of my favorite bass baits. Like I said earlier, fish try not to use too much energy in the winter, so if they can easily eat something big like a jig they will. I like using the skirted jigs because of the bulky presentation, and I always add a trailer. I stick with craw trailers because I have most success with them.

The only problem with skirted jigs is the rubber skirts will firm up in the cold, winter water. This makes the action not as good, but the solution is to use hair jigs. The hair is a good substitute for the skirt, and hair doesn’t firm up in the water. The hair jigs also flow naturally in the water which could trigger bites. I don’t just use them for winter bass fishing; I use them all the time and they have become one of my favorite lures.

All these lures can be fished slowly which is what you want in the winter, but when you fish jigs and other soft baits the bass get a good look at it. Sometimes the fish won’t bite after seeing the bait, so you need something extra to get strikes like scent. A lot of anglers think bait scent is a great tool, but some don’t. I have never used any type of scent, but after an amazing experience fishing with scent for smallmouth, I use it whenever necessary. Scent is good for slow moving baits like jigs, but it is pointless for jerk baits, blade baits, and other hard baits because they move fast enough to where a fish won’t get a great look.

Even though fishing is tough in the winter, catching fish is always rewarding, and even if it is a challenge it is nice to get out and fish. If you learned something new like using hair jigs, I suggest you try it out because you might be very happy with the results. So whether you're jigging blade baits for lake trout, or fishing a jerkbait for bass before the water freezes, go out there and catch some fish.

Thirteen-year-old Chris Prozor of New Jersey said he’s been fishing all his life. “I have been surrounded by fishing as long as I can remember, and I have a lot of ideas and tricks to share,” Chris tells The Fisherman and our readers. Keep an eye out for more from this young angler and many more like him in the future at TheFisherman.com.