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Hot Bass Fishing in Cold Times

December 19, 2011
By

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Greater Ashland Beacon.

By Chris Erwin

This is the time of the year when most anglers put up their gear and start thinking about how long it’s going to be until spring gets here. If you have an adventurous nature, and you dress for the weather, there is a lot of good fishing left before the lakes freeze over.

It goes without saying that this is the time of the year when the smallmouth bass are on the lips of many fishermen who make the trip to Cumberland, Dale Hollow or Laurel River lakes. For years the smallmouth has been active during this cold water period.

The past week, stories from anglers have been coming in about success on all the lakes we have listed. However, it’s not just these well-known winter time producers that anglers are having success on.

submitted. Scott Doan displays his Cave Run Lake bass.

Scott Doan, a local fisherman from Morehead, has been having good catches on both the main lake and the river at Cave Run. He has been catching largemouth bass on ¼ oz. shaky head jigs in 20ft. of water. With water temperatures falling into the high forties this week in the river, I think it’s safe to say that the fish are moving into their winter pattern.

Scott Hurley, of Lexington, reported catching a 20.5-inch smallmouth weighting 4 lbs. 6 oz. from Lake Cumberland. Some of the largest smallmouths of the season are often caught during this winter pattern before any of the lakes begin to freeze.

They are many ways that will prove successful but all of them require a slowdown approach: jigs, float & fly, slow-roll spinnerbaits, blade baits, vertical spoons, and of course, live minnows or shiners.

If your goal is to master this winter time pattern, you should learn all you can about the different baits and techniques listed.

submitted. Scott Hurley, of Lexington, with his Lake Cumberland smallmouth.

Live bait has been gaining in popularity in the last few years. This method is pretty straight forward on the deep water lakes like Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow. Anglers fish the second break or mark fish on their depth finder and fish directly over them.

They rig their line with a 1/0 circle hook clamp on a split shot about 14 inches up the line. You want to use as little weight as possible to keep the bait in the strike zone. Lighter weights also let the bait fall slower giving the bass an easy target.

The circle hook helps to prevent deeply hooked fish. And you don’t need to set the hook as the fish take the bait, the hook will roll into the fish usually hooking them in the upper jaw.

The bait that has been catching both largemouth and smallmouth is the shaky head jig. We have talked about this bait in other articles because it has produced all summer. However, in the winter, it’s part about small group of baits that will produce until the lakes freeze over. In the winter, this jig-head is rigged with a curly tailed grub. My favorite color is white. This 1½ to 2-inch grub is rigged with the hook exposed on a ¼ oz. shaky head. Fish in the 20 ft. pockets or secondary breaks, it is also very effective walking it down the rock points in our mountain lakes.

In the weeks ahead, I will cover how to fish the float & fly, vertical spoons and blade baits. While these baits produce year round, it’s the winter when they out shine many of the summertime fast moving baits.

If you decide to try this cold-water fishing, please remember to wear a floatation device. Falling in the water in the summer maybe upsetting, but in the winter it can be a killer. Hypothermia can set in in minutes, and even good swimmers can drown without a life preserver.

Chris Erwin is the founder and publisher of Kentucky Angling News. Chris can be reached at trimmer308@windstream.net

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