Winter Jig Fishing, Catch more Bass when Fishing Cold Waters

Winter Jig Fishing, Catch more Bass when Fishing Cold Waters

Winter Bass Fishing with the Jig

OneCast Fishing: Premium wire-tied Bass Jigs

Unless you live in the deep south, when January offers Florida’s anglers topwater action and short sleeves, most of us are still in the midst of winter’s chill.  Depending on how Mother Nature cooperates, we may have several more weeks of cold weather fishing.  Up north, the frost may not end until May. In such conditions, we bundle up and brave the Arctic wind, testing our mental and physical mettle. Others decide to stay inside cozying up next to a warm fire.  They are missing out!  To those of us who fish year round, we know some of the biggest bass to be caught come from the frigid waters of winter.   

There are a variety of ways to target bass in the winter, and one of the most productive methods is the jig.  However, jig fishing in December and January requires a different approach than the pitching and flipping in spring or summer.  It’s not as easy now as it will be in a couple of months.  Winter jig fishing requires understanding how the bass move and operate when water temperatures drops below anything comfortable.   The bass’s movement slows down tremendously, so you’ve got to get your lure close to the bass.  Getting close sometimes isn’t good enough though.  You have to present her with a lure that is so appetizing she can’t resist. 

Ways to Play the Winter Jig Game 

Winter bass typically hang out in predictable places.  Normally they can be found in deeper water. I have noticed that during this time of the year the bass may be at their deepest depths.  Of course, depth is relative.  What is deep on one body of water may not be so for another.  There are several factors including: location, water clarity, presence or lack or vegetation, current, etc.  Generally speaking, though, unlike the summer with the presence of a thermocline, there is plenty of oxygen down at depth during the winter.  This deeper water is also more stable than water near the surface.  It’s not stirred by the cold wind and less susceptible to rapid temperature changes during cold fronts.  

To beat the proverbial dead horse even more. Water is cold in winter. Fish are cold blooded and their metabolism slows dramatically when the water temperatures drop.   The bass are lethargic and don’t really feel the need to expend a lot of energy feeding.  Some studies suggest that a bass can go days without eating during the winter (I read that somewhere, onetime).  This thought leads to the go-big mentality. Offer a bass a meal that’s well worth their time and energy spent.  In the military, we would call this a high payoff target.  Give them something to eat that they simply can’t pass up. 



Ideal Winter Bass Location: The main lake point drops off from 12 feet to 35 feet in about 25 yards. 

Big Jigs for Winter Bass 

When I go big, I am talking about ½ ounce or larger jigs with big bulky baits.  One of my favorite ways to target these bass is with the jig and worm.  I use a 11 inch worm from Deep Creek Lures and thread it on my jig.  In the cold winter water, this large worm doesn’t act out of place by flailing about.  Best of all, it’s a monster meal for the bass to gorge on.  I often find myself using this technique, on cloudy days, or during a prolonged cold period.  That’s when the fish are most likely going to be at their deepest point on structure.  

Remember, work the jig extremely slow.  I have had days where I wouldn’t move the jig for 3 minutes and when I did move it, I would only move it six inches or so along the bottom.  Typically, during winter I only drag the jig, but if I do hop it along the bottom, it’s a shallow hop.  Ultimately, you want to match your movement and action to the prey the bass are going to be feeding on.  Things are barely alive so no need to make all sorts of commotion.  That’s going to be a red flag for the bass. 

Go Small: Downsize Your Jig 

When big jig profiles don’t produce or on days when the bass have moved up on structure, I downsizing my rig.   There are two ways I do this.   

  1. 1) Use smaller jigs; something 3/8 ounce or less.  With the smaller jig make sure to use smaller trailers as well.  The bass may just want to eat something that doesn’t look too difficult to kill. Smaller meals are easier to catch and digest.  Hopefully, when the bass are in this mood they have moved few feet shallower.  This change in depth makes it a whole lot easier to use lighter and smaller jigs.  It doesn’t take quite as long for a jig to fall 10-12 feet than 20 plus feet.  Its just a little less painful for us fishermen if we can use this tactic during a warming trend when the bass are moving up. 
2) Another way to downsize is to utilize finesse jigs.  I will admit, finesse jigs can be confusing.  There isn’t a true industry standard of what makes a jig finesse.  Usually they are lighter weight, but they don’t have to be.  The finesse jig is really just a jig with a light wire hook, thinner skirts, and usually a trimmed and more compact weed guard.  The skirts of finesse jigs can simply be thinner (less strands) or cut to a lesser length.  You often see finesse jigs with skirts that are trimmed at the head.  This is what most people picture when they think finesse jigs.  The beauty of a finesse jig is they offer just a slightly different profile.  Thin and a little gaunt much like bait look like in the dead of winter.  

Jig Trailers for Winter 

If you haven’t checked out my jig trailer article, make sure you do.  It explains a lot more than what I am going to say here.  In winter you want trailer that has very little action.  Use any color or style you want just match the movement of whats living under the water.  Imitate what the prey are doing and you will be successful. 

So to sum it up.  In winter.  Fish deep!  Unless it’s been warm out, then fish not as deep.  Go big with you jigs and trailers.  If that doesn’t work.  Downsize and go small and finesse.  Always remember fish slow and don’t tie on anything that kicks like crazy on as a trailer.


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Ben, OneCast Fishing 

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