The extended winter has kept water temperatures around us at an unseasonably cold reading.
The surface temp on my home
lake is still anywhere from 44 to
46 degrees. For a couple of weeks into April, that is quite unusual.
Year in and year out, the bass on my bay are spawning in earnest the first week of May.
I will be surprised if they keep to that timetable this year, but we will see. Until then, it looks like cold-water tactics are going to be a must.
One of the most popular lures to use when the water is barely above ice-out is a suspending jerkbait.
It works and will catch fish. I have used one many times when the snow is still flying and put quality fish in the boat, but I prefer to fish a little faster than what that retrieve requires.
I have two cold-water lures I prefer: a small swimbait or grub and a crankbait.
I first got onto the grub presentation while fishing Beaver Lake near Rogers, Arkansas. The deep, clear water created a challenging outing. Add in the frigid water temps, and I personally would have preferred to drive south another 10 hours, but that was not an option.
My partner for the day took out his spinning rod and a single-tail grub that was all white.
He rigged it with a jighead so he could get deep. He told me that we were going to target main lake points that fed into traditional spawning areas.
He cast the grub out and let it fall to the bottom.
Once his line went slack, he started a slow and steady retrieve. He explained he wanted the lure to move just fast enough to spin the single tail, but not so fast the bait no longer looked like an easy meal.
After about 15 minutes of probing the same piece of structure, his rod loaded up and he pulled in a hefty 4-pound largemouth.
We caught fish all day. In fact, we ran across another angler in the parking lot that was pre-fishing for a weekend tournament. He asked how we did and we explained the technique. He won the event.
Another one of my favorite cold-water techniques is to use a medium wobbling crankbait.
I use one that dives to that 8-foot range. That is the depth I find most conducive to hitting the proper break lines on my lake, but your favorite body of water may be shallower or deeper.
Around here I focus on a crankbait that is bluegill or shad colored. If your water has lots of crawdads, then a red crankbait will work well.
The key is to make sure the bait is hitting the bottom of the area you are wanting to fish.
You want that bait to dig and reflect off anything it hits. The goal is to trigger reaction strikes. Cold-water cranking is probably my most consistent method for pulling in fish when you need multiple layers and can hardly move.
Fish eat all year round. Just because it is miserable for us to be out doesn’t mean you can’t have a great day on the water.
The nice thing about fishing when the water is cold, is that most often they will be stacked up.
When you find one, stick around, there will likely be more on that same piece of structure.
Don’t let Old Man Winter ruin what should be your spring fishing. Get out there, fish slow, have confidence, and have fun.
See you on the lake.