It’s December and I know that a lot of you are already looking forward to Christmas, but don’t overlook the fact that this time of year features some big fish if you know what to use. I’m going to give you four options – two for the north and two for the south, but realistically all four will work wherever you live.
The first choice is especially effective up north as temperatures drop into the 50s, the 40s or even the high 30s. That’s when you’re chasing a true winter pattern. The fish are getting deeper, they’re keyed in on bait, and they’re often living on vertical structure. In those cases my number one is without a doubt a blade bait, otherwise known as “fishing metal.”
I most often use the Molix Trago Vib Blade Bait, which looks like a thin metal version of a lipless crankbait. It’s extremely vertical and provides you with great control. You usually fish it near the bottom, allowing it to sink and then making short little hops. The colder the water, the shorter the hops. It vibrates and falls just like a dying baitfish. I use it around all sorts of wintering areas including dams, riprap, deep marinas and channel bends that hit the bank and form sort of a bluff. With the increasing popularity of forward facing sonar, it’s an even more valuable tool than before.
Number two for me is a jig head minnow. Again it can do a lot of things, including strolling or moping. I usually employ a 1/8- to 3/8-ounce ball head jig – just make sure it has a 90 degree line tie to keep it horizontal. You can pair it with any minnow style soft plastic from 3- to 5-inches, but I really like the Berkley Maxscent Flatnose Minnow. It has a very natural tail, and that flat spot on the bottom makes it stay in the right position.
Moving south, from North Carolina down to Florida, Texas and Alabama, it’s still cold, but not like up here in Jersey. The water might be in the 50s or 40s instead. In that scenario I tend to reach for a skirted jig in two different styles. The first is a compact jig like the Missile Mini Flip. I often pair it with a soft stickbait on the bait for a technique I call “Ned Jigging.” My other option, particularly as the fish get deeper, is a football jig. I use them in 1/2, ¾ or even a full ounce, usually with a big chunk trailer that makes it look like a meaty crawfish.
Last but not least, another great wintertime option takes us back to metal. This time it’s an old school tailspinner. You might remember the Little George. Well, I use the Molix Trago Spin Tail. It’s a tricked-out version of that old staple. It provides flash and vibration and when the bass attack it they get a mouthful of treble. Speaking of that treble, it might look like it would get hung up everywhere, but the way the lure rides in the water makes it remarkably snagless.
Try those four lures this month and you should catch wintertime bass every time out. Remember to have a great time and a safe and happy set of holidays.
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