If you think of bass fishing as mostly a summer activity, you’re not alone – I used to too.
I’m not usually happy to be wrong, but this time I am. The truth is, you can catch monster bass all year. Even in winter – that’s right, the dead of winter can produce bass fishing that will give the Fourth of July a run for its money.
Today I’m going to show you exactly what you need to catch big bass in the winter.
I definitely don’t want you sitting around all winter waiting for warm weather to catch big bass. And I understand that fishing for a species of fish at a time of the year that you are not familiar with can be a little challenging.
So let’s get right to it.
Table of Contents
- Why Target Bass in the Winter?
- TOP 6 Best Winter Bass Fishing Lures for 2023
- Now… Time to Hit the Water!
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Why Target Bass in the Winter?
I think the answer is obvious – it’s always fun to catch bass, no matter what the calendar says.
But think about why else.
Before winter, many animals including fish aggressively ‘fatten up’ to prepare for the less active cold season.
This means you will catch really big bass – if you can get your bait in front of them and convince them to bite.
What is Different About Winter Bass Fishing?
If you have ever been tempted to curl up on the couch on a cold day, you know how bass feel all winter.
Seriously – you may be more like a fish than you think!
But that does mean you need to think a little harder about how you will approach your winter bass fishing. It makes lure and bait selection even more important.
Which is why you are going to love the recommendations I have to share with you soon.
What Bass are Doing During the Winter
But first, let’s think about a few general rules. It’s common sense that when it gets cold out, living beings slow down a little.
Fish in particular like to seek out areas with stable water temperature, which means they may not be exactly where you expect to find them in the summer. Usually, this means they might be a bit deeper than you expect.
Fish that are less active and in deeper water need a little more incentive to eat your bait. This means that you need to have lots of different options available to you in your tackle box.
I like to have lots of variation in color, size, action and shape in the baits I am taking with me to catch bass in the winter.
How to Fish for Winter Bass
I’m going to let you in on a secret.
It’s actually not rocket science to catch bass in the winter – in fact, many of the same tactics and baits you use at other times of the year still work.
I do have one important warning though.
A lot of what we are going to talk about will apply to areas where the lakes do not freeze over during the winter. Some areas in the north, like the northern United States and Canada, actually ban bass fishing through the ice. So if you are planning on an ice fishing trip, brush up on how to catch walleye and leave the bass gear at home.
But if you live in an area with lots of open water during the winter, the opportunities to catch big bass are endless.
I think I have given you enough information to have a good understanding of why we want to fish for bass in the winter and how we go about targeting them.
So let’s talk about what you’re probably really curious about at this point.
Ladies and gentlemen… the top 6 best winter bass lures!
TOP 6 Best Winter Bass Fishing Lures for 2023
Rapala X-Rap Jerkbait XR10 Fishing Lure
I love this bait. And I’m not alone – this is one of the most popular fishing brands, consistently used by serious anglers all over the world.
Frankly, there are a lot of reasons to like this style of jerk bait in the winter.
Look For Value
Be careful where you buy this bait. I have seen it listed at a wide range of prices – some vendors sell it for double what other ones do.
But if you can score it for under $10, you have yourself a steal.
Take Advantage of Conditions
There’s another important advantage of this bait.
Winter usually clears up the water at least a little bit. There are fewer boats to churn things up and a lot of the weeds die back.
A bright, colorful lure can attract fish from a much wider area in the winter than other times of the year. And this lure comes in several colors, so you can present different options to see what the best approach to winter bass fishing is in your area.
This style of jerk bait also has dynamite action. Remember, winter lakes are often quieter and calmer than you may be used to seeing. So a little action can draw a lot of attention.
Know Your Depth
Another thing to keep in mind – it’s never fun to lose a lure.
But personally, I find that losing colorful, sturdy lures like these hurts even more. And depending on how much you paid for it, it can hurt your wallet too.
So if you buy this lure, you might fish it more cautiously than some other cheaper lures and not cast it near structure that could break it off your line.
There’s one other thing I should mention.
This lure has a lot of action. A lot. You and I don’t have a good idea of what the baitfish are doing in the winter.
So it may take some trial and error to find out the best retrieval pattern and movement to mimic the natural bait fish and get hits.
But don’t worry – it’s worth it.
- Color and action attract fish in clear water.
- Value lure if you know where to look.
- Stings if you lose it – fish it cautiously.
- Trial and error to find the right action.
Like I said earlier, I absolutely love this lure. And I think you will too.
It’s one of the best winter bass lures.
In fact, if you start your winter bass fishing trip using this lure, you may not even need another lure!
But..We still have another 5 great lures to catch bass in the winter that I want you to see.
Basskiller Jointed Swim Baits
Read the name slowly.
It’s gotta be good, right?
This isn’t as famous as a Rapala or other traditional baits, but I still like it a lot. I think you’ll find that I am not alone in that opinion.
This is a great lure for making a lot of casts with – it is a bit smaller and travels through the air very easily. It’s hard to put a price tag on that when you need to cover a lot of water.
Fortunately, the price tag on this won’t be too hard to swallow – it’s generally a good value lure, especially sold in 3-packs.
Another reason I really like the 3-pack feature is because you get a mix of colors. You can switch it up and see what color the fish are in the mood for, with just one pack.
Of course, there are other things to keep in mind.
I have to admit that this bait tends to sink faster in the water. That means you need to be careful where you cast it – if you put it right on shore, it may get snagged as soon as it lands.
But that’s not the end of the world – just make sure that you cast somewhere with decent depth and less structure.
- Easy to make lots of casts.
- Good value – especially in 3-packs.
- Sinks fast, be careful where you cast it.
If you’re looking for a value lure that can put in a lot of work for you to help you find fish, this is a great one to have on your list.
Cabela's Action Tail Grub
This is one of my favorite baits in the summer. In my opinion, nothing beats the curly tail action. This version also happens to be from a great brand.
There are a lot of reasons that it is one of the best winter bass lures too.
Switch It Up – Easily
The biggest pro for this bait is its versatility. Get a few different colors, and a few different colors of jig head, and you can use almost a dozen different combinations on a fishing trip.
That’s a good way to figure out what color bait the fish are after.
Another great thing about the curly tail style of this bait is that it is pretty easy to change up the action dramatically with small adjustments to your retrieval. Even reeling a bit slower or faster will produce very different action.
As we have discussed, in the winter it is a bit harder to know how the bait fish are behaving, so being able to try different presentations and action without too much effort is an important pro of this bait.
It is also a relatively cheap bait that is sold with multiple units in the package, so you can be a lot more aggressive casting into fallen trees, thick weed beds and other locations without being as concerned about possibly losing your lure.
It’s hard to go wrong with this bait, so I don’t want to say anything too negative about it.
Good Things Come in Multiples
It is important to remember that you need a jig head or some other type of hook to use it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this soft plastic is more fragile than some of the baits discussed in this article. That means that when it is repeatedly bitten by fish, it will fray and eventually lose some of its action or even totally break.
This is only a problem if you are catching a lot of fish, so it’s definitely a good problem to have!
Still, remember that you may need to go through 3 or 4 of them per trip, so don’t bring just one.
When I stock up on these, I usually buy 2-3 packs at a time, each a different color.
- Versatile, easy to switch up colors.
- Easy to change the action.
- Cheap, good to buy in quantity.
- Need a jig head or hook to use it.
- Soft plastic frays after use.
Soft plastics like this are a great weapon to carry in your tackle box – trust me, you won’t regret it.
BOOYAH Pond Magic Bass Fishing Lure
This is another one where the name says it all.
BOO-YAH. Pond Magic!
Thankfully, this bait works great in lakes too. But if you’re fishing for bass in the winter in a pond, this one has your name written on it – literally.
This is a classic bass bait that works well all year round, but it has a few features that get me really excited whenever I can cast it in the winter.
It comes in a range of colors and it is relatively affordable. So you can bring a wide arsenal out with you to see what color works.
It is also quite big in the water, which gives it a certain kind of appeal to the fish during winter when they may not be working as actively to find bait fish.
You can also change the action on it quite a bit depending on how quickly or slowly you decide to reel it in. This can be an advantage when you are new to fishing for bass during the winter and want to try different approaches.
The only thing is that this bait is pretty much “what you see, is what you get.” It’s a little bit one dimensional.
Usually, that’s a good thing – for most of the reasons listed above.
But it can also limit how much you can do with this bait. It is a bit of a one trick pony, so to speak.
- Lots of options for color.
- Large and easy to see in the water.
- Good action.
- Limited in how much you can do with it.
This bait won’t always produce top results, but when it does, you will be glad to have it in your tackle box. It is well worth the small investment.
In fact, you would probably feel like you were missing out if you were on a bass fishing trip and did not have a spinner bait.
Fishing Jabber Jaw Hybrid Squarebill Crankbait
There’s one category of bait we have not talked about yet, and you’re probably wondering about it.
Crankbaits. I like them – because bass like them.
In some ways, crankbaits are perfect for bass – they’re small and fat, just like the perfect baitfish.
They also dive deep, which is great for winter fishing.
The Fishing Jabber Jaw Hybrid is no exception. It looks exactly like something a bass would love to gobble up.
It has dynamite movement and vibrates in the water, sending out a signal to any bass in the area that it is time to eat.
Just remember one thing.
Like a few of these baits that have the ability to dive, you need to watch how deep you are using this bait. It won’t catch you any bass if you snag it on the bottom.
- Closely mimic natural bass food.
- Great action and movement.
- Need to watch how deep you fish it.
Any angler serious about catching bass knows you need a crankbait in your tackle box. This hybrid is a great place to start.
YUM Dinger Classic Worm Soft Plastic Bass Lure
This last bait I am going to show you is really good. You might even say it’s perfect for winter bass fishing.
Think about what we already know. Bass in the winter are slower and less active.
So you want to make their job of feeding themselves as easy as possible.
There is nothing easier for a bass than having a big, fat worm dangle down right in front of it.
If you can learn how to rig the worm to dangle like it just fell off a tree and is sinking slowly in the water, bass won’t be able to resist it.
Because this is another soft plastic, you can buy it in larger numbers and it is less expensive. This is great for fishing it aggressively, checking to see if there are bass near fallen trees, rocks, logs and more.
Just remember a couple of pointers.
It will take some work to find the right color that bass in your area want to eat during the winter. You need to mix and match a little.
And because this is a soft plastic, it will get worn down from being eaten by fish, meaning you may need to replace it frequently.
That’s not so bad, is it?
- Looks like natural bass food.
- Cheap and easy to buy in quantity.
- Trial and error to get the right color combo.
- Soft plastic frays with lots of use.
This bait can make the fish’s job of finding food really easy.
That’s good news for you, because it will make your job of catching the fish really easy!
I highly recommend it – it deserves a spot in your tackle box.
Now… Time to Hit the Water!
If you live in an area where you can fish for bass in the winter, you are very lucky.
You owe it to yourself to get out there and try winter bass fishing – trust me, you’re going to love it.
Winter bass fishing is not that complicated or different from fishing other times of the year.
You just need to understand what the fish are doing differently and change your style to match it.
With these tips, and the lures mentioned above, you’ll be reeling in your winter bass in no time!