Cold water slows fish down. And depending on where the lake is, when the water temperature gets down in the high 40s to mid 50s, bass are less inclined to chase big baitfish because their metabolism slows way down and they don’t need to eat as much. The best thing a fisherman can do in this situation is to downsize his/her tackle and lures and fish a lot slower.
First, use a lighter line with the smallest diameter you can find as well as a rig that can handle it. In the summer I fish mostly Lew’s baitcasters and nothing smaller than 15-pound-test line. But I’ll go with 6- or 8-pound test Toray fluorocarbon in the winter and switch to Lew’s spinning reels on Powell rods that match those lines.
As a rule, I’ll use the lightest rig possible when I’m fishing jigs under ¼-ounce, and a slighter heavier outfit when I’m fishing heavier jigs. Either way, the baits are small and fall more slowly and naturally down through the water. You can detect those light strikes better when you’re having to fish deeper, which is likely going to be the case.
Finally, because there are few if any algae blooms in the winter, the water tends to be a lot clearer and the lighter line is going to help you there too. Lighter tackle and baits are the way to go in a cold winter; you just need to remember that when you do get bit, you’re not going to be able to horse the fish in.
---- Walmart pro Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn.