The jig and pig is always a popular choice for cold water bass. In the summer I use plastic trailers but in the winter the pig is the secret. Pork trailers have a natural feel and flavor, two things vital to light biting cold water bass. Pork trailers was all there was when I started bass fishing or at least they were all I knew of but now pork is hard to find. Uncle Josh has stuck by their product and has only improved the pork trailer and now offer the MEAT series and as far as I know is the only trailers made from pork fat. Working the jig and pig slowly down rocky banks can catch you some cold water bass this winter.
Since bass are not likely to eat as much in cold water as they do when it’s warm, grubs can be perfect for cold water bass. Its small and compact profile mimics the size and action of bait fish bass are looking for when the water is cold. Sometimes cold water bass want a little action in the presentation and when this happens a twister tail grub is great but my favorite is a split tail grub with no action. Casting this along sharp drop-offs and letting it free fall on light line can trigger cold water strikes from bass looking for an easy meal.
The blade bait is a simple bait with features that may not attract anglers in the bait store but the subtle looks and action of these baits are deadly on cold water bass. These little baits are very versatile and whether you located bass in deep water and need to jig it like a spoon through suspended fish or found them up shallow where the best presentation is the pump action the blade bait works great. The pump action is where you slowly raise the blade bait off the bottom then allow it to wiggle back to the bottom. This is done on light line and with the table hook on the bait it does take some practice to keep from hanging up every cast but it works so give it a try this winter.
The lipless crankbait is my favorite all around cold water bass baits. There are several ways to fish this bait from ripping it through grass to stroking it on the flats. My personal favorite lipless crankbait is the Rapala Rippin Rap. This bait is heavy enough to cast a mile but subtle enough to work slowly through the water column generating that slow action as well as sound that triggers reaction strikes so vital to catching more cold water bass. These reaction strikes oftentimes will result in barely hooking the bass and sometimes hooking it on the outside of its mouth where it just swiped the bait from pure reactionary instincts. Many times, without the right set-up, you will rip the hooks free of the bass without ever knowing you had a bite. The best set-up for cold water lipless crank bait fishing is a slow retrieve with monofilament and a limber rod. The monofilament will stretch along with the limber rod and this will help increase the hook-up ratio and ultimately the number of bass that make it in the boat.
The suspending jerkbait is no secret to cold water bass anglers. It was a toss up between the jerk bait and the crank bait for this spot but with the lipless crank bait being so versatile I left the crank bait off the list. In the winter months most lakes, even those that may be a little dingy in the summer, will clear up. There is little boat traffic and less plankton and other organisms that usually color the water in lakes. For this reason the suspending jerkbait wins as one of the top 5 cold water bass baits. Work this bait along bluff banks where bass will suspend in the winter so they can move from one depth to another with ease. Get the bait down to the depth it is designed then start a jerk, jerk, pause retrieve. The pause is usually determined by the water temp but sometimes you just have to experiment and let the bass tell you what they want. You might have to pause for as long as a minute, just be patient and you might be surprised.
The bass are targeting dying shad in the winter and the action of these dying shad, dictated usually by the water temp, is what you will want to emulate with your presentation. Since you can’t see the action of that days dying shad you have to try different presentations until you get a bite. You can locate the depth of the shad with your electronics so you know how deep to fish.
It can be a challenge to catch bass in the winter but with the right baits and techniques you can catch bass throughout the cold water months. Cold water bass fishing is a great way to get out of the house and while it might be cold out there when you hook into a big bass every once and awhile you tend to forget about the cold. Winter bass fishing is also a great time to locate some of those secret stumps or boulders that are underwater when spring rolls around.