Bass fishing in cold weather is hit or miss—unless you know a few important things about bass and winter.
Is bass fishing good in cold weather?
Bass fishing is more difficult in cold weather. Bass bite less in colder temperatures, and significantly less below 40 degrees. However, if you understand bass behavior and use the right bass fishing tools, you can still catch bass. Use GPS and slow-moving bait for winter bass fishing.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about, “Is bass fishing good in cold weather?”
11 Facts About Bass Fishing in Cold Weather You Need to Know
As a life-long bass angler in colder temps – including ice fishing – there are at least 11 things you need to know about bass fishing in winter.
We’ll cover six more important answers by the end of this guide.
1) Bass Bite Less in Cold Weather
Bass are cold-blooded creatures, which means that their body temperature is regulated by the water around them.
In warm weather, bass are more active and will often chase after baitfish.
However, in cold weather, their metabolism slows down and they become less active. As a result, they are less likely to strike at lures presented to them.
2) Match the Pace of Nature
As the weather starts to cool off, many of us start to slow down.
We trade our shorts and sandals for sweaters and boots, and we spend more time indoors by the fire. This change in pace can also be observed in the animal kingdom.
For example, bass are a type of fish that are well-known for their high level of activity during the warmer months.
However, when winter arrives, they go at a considerably slower pace. Their metabolism decreases, and they move less often in search of food. As a result, bass are much harder to catch during the winter months.
To catch bass in cold weather, we should slow down, too.
This means slowing down our own movements and being more patient. Instead of casting our line out as far as possible, we should focus on shorter distances.
And instead of using lures that are designed to imitate fast-moving prey, we should switch to slower alternatives. By making these simple adjustments, we can give ourselves a better chance of success when bass fishing in cold weather.
3) Bass Congregate in the Cold
In cold weather, bass congregate more often in specific areas.
They look for warm water and food sources, so they tend to stick together in certain spots. This is especially true along the floor of a river, lake, or pond.
Bass are attracted to the same things in colder weather – warmth and food.
They will usually gather close to each other near the bottom of a body of water where the temperature is warmer or food is plentiful.
What this means for you is that you may be able to catch several bass in the same area in cold weather.
4) Stay Near River Shores
In the winter months, when the water is cold, bass tend to congregate near the shore in rivers rather than out in the open water.
As a result, if you’re trying to catch bass in cold weather, it’s best to stay close to the shore.
There are a few reasons for this.
First of all, the shallow water near the shore is warmer than the deeper water further out. Sunlight can more easily penetrate the shallows, helping to heat the water.
Additionally, rivers typically have more cover near the shore, such as rocks and logs.
Bass love this type of cover, as it provides them with a place to hide from predators and ambush their prey. So if you’re looking to up your bass-catching game in cold weather, focus your efforts near the river shore.
5) Fish Deep Lake Pockets
Bass tend to head for deep pockets in lakes and ponds where they can find more food in the cold. This is a great time to try fishing in these areas.
Not only will you have a better chance of finding bass, but you’ll also be able to target them more easily.
When fishing in deep pockets, it’s important to use heavier lines and lures so that you can reach the bottom where the fish are hiding.
These areas can also be notoriously difficult to navigate, so it’s a good idea to have a GPS system and/or temperature gauge on hand. With a little patience and perseverance, you’re sure to have a successful day of bass fishing.
6) Avoid Surface Lures
One type of bait that is particularly ineffective in cold weather is the surface lure.
Surface lures rely on the movement of the water to create vibration and attract fish. However, in cold weather, the surface layer of the water is often still and unruffled.
Therefore, surface lures are much less likely to succeed in attracting bass in cold weather.
If you are determined to fish with a surface lure, your best bet is to fish in shallow water where the bottom is clearly visible. This will allow you to see if the lure is actually attracting any fish.
In general, though, it is best to avoid surface lures when fishing for bass in cold weather. The odds are simply stacked against you.
But if you live a high-risk, high-reward angler lifestyle, then go for it.
7) Bass Follow The Sun
If you’re fishing off a pier or on a river, you’ll want to focus on whatever area is getting the most sun.
Those areas will be warmer in cold weather, making them prime congregating spots for bass.
When you follow the sun, you’ll almost always find some bass – even in the most wintry of conditions.
8) GPS Is Your Friend
GPS can be a bass fisherman’s best friend, especially during cold weather.
By inputting the right data, such as water temperature and depth, a GPS can help you find areas where the bass are likely to be congregating.
In addition, GPS can be used to create a map of an area so that anglers can keep track of where they’ve already fished and where they might want to try next.
Another trick is to use GPS to mark the location of good fishing spots.
Then, when you return on another cold day, you can use the GPS to zero in on those spots and increase your chances of finding fish.
9) Suit Up With the Right Winter Bass Fishing Gear
It’s important to suit up with the right gear before heading out on the ice.
A good spinning or casting rod will give you the precision you need to make successful casts, while cold weather gear like waders, hats, gloves, overalls, and rubber boots will help you stay warm and dry.
Slow-moving fishing lures like jigs or jerkbaits are also effective in winter conditions, and some kind of heating source can make all the difference when it comes to comfort.
By being prepared with the right gear, you can enjoy a productive day of fishing even in the depths of winter.
10) Mimic the Bait Fish
If you’re serious about fishing, then it’s important to understand the role of baitfish.
Baitfish are small fish that are commonly used as live bait for larger predators. While they may not seem like much, baitfish play a vital role in the ecosystem.
Not only do they provide food for larger fish, but they also help to keep the population of smaller fish in check.
By using bait fish that mimic the natural food source of bass, you can make your lure more effective and increase your chances of catching a fish.
When choosing a baitfish, it’s important to pay attention to the size and color of the fish.
In winter, bass tend to feed on small, neutral-colored food.
Therefore, keep your baitfish small. You’ll want to choose a lure that is a similar size. Additionally, use baitfish that are colorless or have neutral colors. Bright colors can be a warning sign to predators.
As such, it’s best to also choose a lure that is either white or has subtle colors.
11) Go Middle of the Day Fishing
As a kid, one of my favorite things to do was go fishing with my dad.
We would usually go early in the morning or late in the afternoon, but sometimes we would go during the middle of the day. Even though it was cold, my dad always said that bass were more active during the warmest part of the day.
And he was right!
We always seemed to catch more fish when we went fishing during the middle of the day in winter.
Now that I’m an adult, I still love to go fishing. And I always try to go during the middle of the day when the weather is cold.
Is Bass Fishing at Night in Winter Good or Bad?
Is bass fishing good in cold weather at night?
Some fishermen swear by night fishing, but in my experience, it’s not the best time to try to catch bass.
The water is coldest at night, so the bass are at their least active state. You’ll probably have less competition from other fishermen, so that’s a plus.
But your task will be immeasurably harder than in the morning or middle of the day in cold weather.
It is a fun experience but I wouldn’t expect to catch many bass. If you’re still determined to fish at night, make sure you dress warmly and bring plenty of hot coffee.
What Water Temperature Is Too Cold for Bass Fishing?
Bass generally prefer temps 60 degrees and above, so any temperature below 60 degrees is harder to catch bass.
It’s still possible – heck – I’ve caught bass ice fishing.
You just need to know where to go, what to do, and possess god-like patience.
The tips in the next section will help you out-fish your friends, win competitions, and earn endless bragging rights on your next guys’ night.
How To Catch Bass In Cold Weather
Here is a great video about how to catch bass in the winter:
Here are my best tips for catching bass in cold weather:
- Know that you’re going to put in long, hard work anytime the temperature dips below 40 degrees.
- Rely on both your gut instinct and GPS tech to find bass in winter.
- Study the geography and landscape of the body of water (especially the bottom).
- Test out different likely spots – in both shallow and deeper water.
- Don’t rush. Slow is the name of the game with cold weather bass fishing.
- Layers, layers, layers. There’s no reason not to be comfortable when camping out and fishing.
- Make sure you let someone know you’re out on the water and your general location. Safety first, always.
- If you use live bait, go with the staple bass diet of minnows and shad.
- The hardest part of winter bass fishing is finding the bass.
- Your catch ratio will likely be good (once you find a good bass fishing spot).
- Use smaller and slower bait.
- Use smaller and slower lures.
- Avoid loud, bright, and flashy bait or lures.
Where Do Bass Go In Cold Weather?
In cold weather, bass seek out pockets of warmth in shallow water, heat-absorbing areas along bottoms, and anywhere with plentiful food sources.
This can include:
- Clay bottom areas
- Rocky bottoms
- Gravel bottoms
- Around sunken trees
- Underwater islands
- Long sloping bottoms
- Underwater ditches
You can find bass in both deep and shallow water if you know where to look. One of the best places to look for bass in winter is in what are called lake points.
Particularly lake points that connect with rivers.
How Deep Do Bass Go In Winter?
Largemouth bass can be found in depths of 5-35 feet in winter.
They tend to congregate near wood or sparse patches of grass, where they can find shelter from the cold water temperatures. Any cover near deep water can be good, so keep an eye out for depth changes of 2-20 feet.
Depending on the geographic location, these could be prime bass hideouts.
What’s the Best Bait for Bass in Winter?
The best bait depends on whether you are reaction fishing or finesse fishing.
For winter bass, I recommend leaving heavily on finesse fishing.
However, using reaction bait can also work if you choose the right bait and use the proper technique. There are a few different options that can be effective, depending on the situation.
Here are some popular bait types for cold-weather bass fishing:
Jerkbait is a great option for cold weather bass fishing because it allows you to cover a lot of water and find fish that are actively feeding.
The key with jerkbait is to fish it slow and steady, using a light rod with a braided line. This will help you feel the bait as it swims through the water and also allows you to set the hook quickly when a fish strikes.
Jig is another great option for cold weather bass fishing.
Fish them slow and keep them in contact with the bottom. This will help you trigger strikes from finicky fish that are reluctant to feed in the cold water.
Blade baits help you target fish that are holding tight to cover.
Go slow and use small twitches of the rod tip to create a swimming action. This will help you attract strikes from even the most reluctant fish.
So, there you have it: three great options for cold weather bass fishing. Give them a try next time you hit the water and see for yourself how effective they can be.
Final Thoughts: Is Bass Fishing Good in Cold Weather?
With the right gear and techniques, you can make cold weather bass fishing a success. Add in a little experience and you just might become the next local fishing legend.
We have a lot of other articles on the site about what works (and doesn’t work) in cold weather.
Check out a few of the hand-selected articles below before you go. Thanks for reading!
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Taylor & Francis Online (Research)
Cambridge.org (Research on Bass)
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