Little do the fishermen who’ve packed away their gear for the season know that they are missing out on some of the best fishing of the year!
That’s right, winter fishing. To many, those two words shouldn’t even be in the same sentence. It’s true that by this time of the year, most folks have traded their baitcaster for a bow, but winter can be primetime when it comes to fishing.
Here are five reasons why you should be thinking about fins during the cold months.
1. The pressure is virtually gone.
This has to be one of the best reasons to take your boat out when the water has cooled. The boat ramps that were packed during April are now no man’s land. Other than the diehards, you may find yourself alone on most days this time of year.
You will practically have several thousand acres to yourself, plus you also wont’t have to wait on the guy backing his jet-ski in for what seems like the first time, ever.
2. You keep cool.
Those 100-degree “dog days” of summer seem like a distant memory at this point. While early mornings can be cool, you can end up with some extremely mild afternoons in the winter throughout most of the country. Dress in layers and stay comfortable throughout the day.
A warm afternoon after a long cold spell can turn fish on like you wouldn’t believe.
3. Bait, bait, bait.
This time of year, fish are relating to bait, and I mean massive schools of bait. In most parts of the country, vegetation has fallen back for the winter and fish will be deep. Rather than searching all over the lake to find a pattern, your best bet is to spend time on your electronics and find that bait.
Odds are, once you find a school of bait, you can start catching them. Shad often get very active in the morning, so find them, pick up your favorite blade bait or spoon, and hold on.
Pro tip: look for the birds. Gulls and loons can be a great indication of active schools of baitfish.
4. Diversify your catch.
While many of us may be chasing bass, winter is the time of year to test your skills on other species. Crappie and white bass will also be chasing those schools of bait, so don’t be afraid to go a little smaller in your presentation and see what else is down there.
I’ve had some of my personal best “catch numbers” simply vertical jigging with light tackle over active shad. I’ve caught white bass, white perch, crappie, largemouth, and even some giant cats all under the same ball of bait. Most tournament trails are over this time of year, so enjoy fishing whatever bites for a change.
5. This is the time to scout.
No, we aren’t talking about your favorite deer woods. Winter is the perfect time to truly see a lake. During the summer, when many lakes are filled with vegetation, it’s hard to get an idea of the contours and structure that may be hidden among the mats.
In winter, when most vegetation is gone, you can find those hidden springs, brushpiles, and rock that are covered throughout most of the rest of the year. Just like hunting, you don’t want to spend time scouting while season is in, so do a little exploring during winter that you wouldn’t do during tournament season or the spawn.
We strongly suggest you give winter fishing a shot this year. You may discover that it’s actually your favorite time of year to wet a line.