It may be cold outside but winter fishing can be very hot.
Yes, I have to admit fishing in the cold isn't the highest on my list.
Ice fishing is popular, winter steelhead is heating up and fish are still hungry in waters near you.
How to Fish While It's Cold
Try spending the majority of your time fishing the late afternoon and early evening time frames during low barometric pressure. Fish seem to like feeding during these time periods.
The majority of fish that I have caught in January, February and March have been somewhat larger than the average. It seems the bigger fish are easier to catch especially since the strike from many smaller fish may be light. A heavier fish is obviously easier to feel.
Your presentation is very important. I recommend, slow, slow, slow with long casts.
This seems to work best for me especially when using a crank bait. In small farm ponds or shallow bodies of water, bass will become more active early. I still like to use a slow presentation when working the bait through these waters.
In larger lakes when the water is murky, fish will be found along the more shallow shorelines near rip rap or other structure that will have drop off's to much deeper water. These areas are best located using a fish finder or observing the visible shorelines and outcroppings. Here I like to use various spinner baits with a medium or slow retrieve reeling just fast enough to keep the blades moving.
Presentation is Key to Success
I like to use a vertical presentation which seems works best. I have found this to be true especially, when using jigs. Neutral natural colors tend to work best. If the water is more clear it is likely best to use a crank bait or spoon.
Try to keep your presentations near the bottom for some of the best results. Moving water in rivers or below dams hold a good number of bait fish and the bass here seem to be a bit more active. They enjoy smaller baits that resemble the available quarry. Make sure that your retrieve is just fast enough to give your lure or bait good action.
Bait and Tackle Options for Cold Weather
The right bait and tackle is a must during cold weather situations.
Spinner baits over structure work well during this time of year. When you are working over rock beds, outcroppings, submersed stumps, and weed beds, use dark colors like purple or black. They have been a great bet for me.
Using a ¾ ounce football head spider jigs or the jig in pig around brush and rocks work very well, getting you deep where you can drag your presentation along the bottom.
Some of the best colors are smoke or black glitter in clear water. If the water is cloudy a fluorescent yellow/black, brown skirt or black and green have produced.
When jigging, I prefer 8-12 pound test.
Fishing clear cold water, ¼ - ½ ounce crank baits work splendidly attached to willow blades. I prefer the colors of black/blue, green and pumpkin colored in the skirting. Small jigs, spoons and worms both live or rubber work well also.
What other things do you need to keep in mind while fishing in cold weather? Well, the rest is up to you: get some experience under your belt, take notes and make reminders, then use what you've learned to catch more fish.