Tips on Catching Florida Bass in Winter:
- Find structure in the wintertime -- Bass frequent deeper underwater structure
- Fish the shallows only late in the afternoons
- When retrieving any hardware, a slower than normal presentation is required
- Subtle jerks are used in plastics, looking for slight twitches in the line to alert a bite
- Angling just before a low-pressure (Cold front) seems to produce the best bite
- If on the water, and the bite is slow to no, come back the next day in finding that window
- Find that window of opportunity, mark it on a calendar and fish it all wintertime
I have an above-ground pool in my backyard. More times than not, the water temperature of that 16-foot pool is within a degree of the areas I fish in my canoe, fresh to saltwater; with salt being usually a degree different, and the freshwater is a match. Bass start their winter feeding patterns as the water temperatures hit 62 degrees and falls into the extreme lower 50s. If the water in Florida falls into the 40s, a landing net is all that would be needed, assuming it were legal! Finding underwater structure in deeper water is the key to finding wintertime Largemouth Florida Bass. Crank baits such as a lipped type lure, Bass Pro crayfish (in its red patterns), retrieved slowly with periodic stops, works well. Zoom four-inch lizards on a wide-gap weighted 1/8 ounce hook, inserted weedless style, will entice all bass in the area as lizards are still everywhere right now. Remember to use subtle jerks and watch your line for the same coming back as this represents a strike. Do not wait as you might in summer months, set that hook!
Watch the Weather ForecastsIf the front coming in falls on the day it arrives or the day before, as you marked your calendar to that 48-hour window, you are one step closer to getting that Lunker! Remember, as the sun warms the shallow waters around your fishing area, baitfish such as minnows to panfish will frequent and so will hungry Bass. In the shallows, try the use of topwaters. My two favorites are the Zoom Frog and the Bass Pro XLT in green. Hard pops, with longer than normal stops before a slow but steady retrieve. A rule of thumb with topwater pops is to watch the rings in the water disappear before your retrieve. Nine out of ten times a strike happens while those rings, which are area-specific, are rippling.
Remember to find that window of opportunity. Fish the deep water in the beginning of the day around underwater structure and move into the shallows as the water warms with the afternoon sun -- you too can be that champion of the water in conquering our Wintertime Florida Largemouth Bass.
Captain Gary A. Anderson