by Chad Horton -
As the water temp drops bass fishing tends to get a little tougher as most species of fish become less active and don’t pursue prey as aggressively as they did during the warmer months. This is a time when some anglers reach for jigs or jerkbaits, but I opt for crankbaits.
With depth and water clarity as considerations, the use of crankbaits allows me to cover a lot of water and bass can’t resist a slow moving crankbait. Lipless, squarebills, and medium divers all work in winter months.
Lipless cranks and squarebills are productive when I’m fishing lakes with vegetation and flat areas. Bass tend to stay in vegetation because it provides cover for hunting and holds plenty of food. When fishing vegetation, I like to rip the bait out the grass and let it flutter back down and keep ripping it out to draw a reaction strike.
I tend to favor shallow water fishing and lipless cranks and squarebills are also perfect for this approach. I’ve had a lot of success in water that was less than five feet in depth using these types of lures.
The flats in my area (Alabama) have a lot standing timber and lay downs, so I make contact with structure to draw a strike. Throwing parallel to rip-rap is good once the sun gets up, with slow action and stop-and-starts to draw a reaction. Rip-rap refers to various forms of rock and rock like objects such as chunks of gravel and granite that are laid along shorelines to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure and prevent erosion.
For this type of fishing my bait of choice is Livingston Lures’ Pro Ripper and Dive Master Jr. in Spring Craw and Citrus Sparkle. The gear I use is a 7 ft. medium/heavy Denali Rosewood cranking rod paired with 15lb.-17lb. fluorocarbon on a Lew’s 6.4:1 Speed Spool.
Medium divers are also very affective if used properly. Hard bottom and structure will hold fish year-round and are very productive targets in cold water.
My preference is targeting fish on bluffs and in creeks with a slow presentation, but keeping the bottom contact. If the fish I’m targeting are suspended off the bottom then I’ll reel and pause to allow the bait to suspend then dive back down. For this approach I throw a Dive Master 14 by Livingston Lures in Chartreuse Sunrise Shad and Spring Craw. I use a Denali Jadewood 7’6 micro guide cranking rod with 10lb. fluorocarbon on a Lew’s 5.4:1 Speed Spool.
I’d like for you to remember that when fishing cooler water, slow your presentation down and you will put more fish in the boat.
About Chad Horton
A resident of Athens, Alabama, Chad has been fishing since he was two-years-old, and tournament fishing since 2007. In 2014, Chad will be fishing BFL, Heartland Anglers and several other regional and local tournaments. Chad’s sponsors include Livingston Lures, Denali Rods, PowerTeam Lures, Lew’s, Elite Rod Sleeves, Raw Jigs, Boat Bling, Toad Candy Custom Lures, Bac-Rac, Mend-It, and Cool Foot.