In the prime fishing months when bass are in a chasing mood, all sorts of lures, patterns and presentations might produce. When the water temperature gets below 50 degrees, though, it’s time to slow down and simplify. In most lakes the fish get lethargic and don’t move around much. They want their food in small bites and without much action. You practically have to spoon-feed them at times. I’ll throw a jerkbait or a Wiggle Wart if the conditions warrant it, but my number one bait for winter fishing is a jig.
First, trim and thin out the skirt to make it more compact, and pair the jig with a chunk trailer. After you cast it out, let it sink all the way to the bottom and then drag it along very slowly. Fish it on points at the mouths of creeks, at docks along bluff banks, the back ends of creeks and anywhere near the bank that’s fairly close to deep water. Bass will move more vertically up and down the water column than horizontally now, so don’t spend much time fishing gradually sloping banks. You’re not going to get a lot of bites – maybe five or six a day – and you’ve got to make the most of the bites you get. Because it’s better to use a smaller jig with lighter line, it’s important to use a hook of a lighter gauge so you can set it better. In cold weather I like to fish a jig on 10- or 12-pound test Berkley 100 percent fluorocarbon line. Match it with a medium-heavy rod with a fast tip, and you’ve got the perfect winter jig outfit.
---- National Guard pro Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala.