Bass Fishing: Deepwater Winter Tactics

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A new lake, stream, canal, or pond is an easy read, if you know what you are looking for. When I was a licensed Captain in Florida, clients would ask if I was taking them to an old haunt, or a favorite spot, and many a time I would reply, “No, I've never fished here before.” The reason why I had never fished there before, is because all water is the same no matter where you fish. From The Rocky Mountains to the rivers, lakes, and coastlines in Florida, all water is the same. It doesn't matter if it is a stream that is 12 inches deep; to a fish, it too has deepwater structure to which it will hang on. Deepwater structures can be found along all shorelines, and most are actually on the shoreline.

bass fishing in river

The stick, the rock, and the slope of the shore: Bass-holding hole here!

  • New waters are an easy read if you know what to look for

  • Deepwater structure can be found anywhere, regardless of depth

  • Deepwater is found along shorelines

Fishing Deep Structure

Bass, as well as, Crappie and Breams, feed adjacent to these deepwater structures because they are a safe and quick access for them to hide in order to avoid being eaten. A log jetting off the shoreline provides good cover and feeding points. As you walk along the shoreline, keep alert to water colors. Darker usually means deeper and if your lucky enough to find a rocky break-off, it generally means there is an under cut along the slope, and this is a fish holder. Late season structure, as in the winter time, holds warm water. As winds blow across the water, the movement of the water is forced against the bank, forcing it to flow downward along the bottom until it hits the slope or undercut, where it swirls in a continuous motion creating a degree or two of heat warmer than the surrounding waters. This thermocline will cause fish to suspend along these pockets of warmer water. In the summertime it is the opposite effect, it is like air conditioning to the fish! Another Bass'n Tactic in Deepwater angling is to locate grass mats or floating vegetation; which hold along the shallow areas and deep beyond them. Do not be fooled by Cat Tails, they are great fishing spots. They grow in shallow swampy waters, and in Florida they tend to have extensive root systems; in many gravel pits they are found with twenty feet or more along their edges. Cat Tails are a Bass haven because various frogs, lizards, and small birds live in them, and these are all prey to the Florida Largemouth Bass!

  • Fish-holding is found adjacent to deepwater structures

  • Darker waters generally mean deepwater

  • Slopes to undercuts produce thermocline's, which are holding areas & fish highways

  • Cat Tails are great in holding fish and are a sign for deepwater

bass fishing logs and trees

Logs to trees jetting to the bottom, undercut & deepwater

When using deepwater winter tactics, always remember the water is deep in the morning and late afternoon, but the shallows hold the biggest bass during the mid-day hours. You should look for structure in shallow water. There is generally a 2-5 degree difference in water temperatures between the deepwater, and shallow-water of morning, compared to the mid-afternoon. Keeping this in mind will catch you more fish, no matter the species, or body of water. When angling these deepwater structures from the shoreline, one must cast out just beyond the slope, cutoff, or thermocline, letting the bait ever so lightly sink to the bottom without any help from you. Watching your line for that “Limp” look means you are on the bottom! The best rigs to use in this type of fishing are egg sinker rigs, drop-shot rigs, or slugs/lizards fished in the flounder rig.

  • Lunkers are often caught in the mid-daytime hours of winter

  • A thermocline will add or subtract water temperatures during different times of the year

  • Always wait for bait to “hit” the bottom before working it in

  • The best baits are those that work the bottom in the winter

  • Best rigs are egg sinker rigs, flounder rigs, and the drop shot rig

captain gary anderson holding bass

Bass Fishing: Deepwater Winter Tactics Produce Bass!

Rigging to Fish for Bass in Deepwater Structure

I prefer to use an Impact Lure on a no tie Easy2Hook set up with a mini cork just above the bait. This will cause your baits to float just off the bottom at eye sight of cruising Lunkers! Reeling in at half the speed of your normal slow, with a second or two pause in between, can cause a strike. When using deepwater winter tactics, always remember the fish are more sluggish in the early morning before the sun rises to warm the waters. Fishing at half speed produces more results, as does a lighter line. When working deepwater, always remember... what is deep to a fish may be shallow for you; a fish is much smaller, so that log or rock in the stream may be holding a number of fish. Never pass up a chance to cast.

If no hit on the first cast, try again and remember, if perchance you get a twitch in the line while watching it fall, immediately open your bail and watch the fish run with your bait. Then, count to three or four, snap the bail on, and hook it up, “Fish On!”

captain garys son holding snook

Even snook shows up in deepwater Bass Haunts in the winter!

 
 

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