Winter doesn’t have to mean it’s the end of bass season for you. In fact, winter time can be an absolutely fantastic time to go. We sat down with Eric Faucett, tournament angler and ANGLR Expert. He claims he’s been fishing 32 out of his 31 years of life, most of that for bass. He caught his first largemouth bass at the age of six, and has been hooked ever since.
“Wintertime is my favorite time to fish,” he shared. “It can be the most difficult, but I feel like it’s the easiest time to catch a big fish, and more than one big fish. Your day may be longer grinding it out and it may not be easy to get to them, but once you figure them out, it’s easier to predict how to catch a bigger fish.” Faucett jokes,
“The fish with bigger feathers flock together.” The wintertime greatly increases your chance that when you find one, you’re going to find another one with it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Out There
The biggest thing about figuring out how to go after these fish is to just get out there. That’s one thing Faucett wishes someone would have told him when he first started to fish. “I wish someone would have told me to get in the boat with as many people as possible so I could learn faster. Reinventing the wheel is ridiculous, but if you learn from people you can get a jumpstart on your knowledge base.”
His start was a little unconventional. He bought himself a boat, got started in a fishing club, and found himself in a tournament just six short months later. “The way to learn quickly and grow your confidence is to spend lots of time on the water. There’s no substitute for that.”
Winter time is a great time to go out because there are less people on the water. You’ve got to get a little brave. “The worst weather I fished in was eight degrees. We probably caught 120 fish. It was the best trip ever!”
Why Does a Fisherman Go to Taco Bell After a Day on the Water?
In order to even hook onto your favorite fish, you’ve got to figure out where they are in relationship to the main body of water. You’re not necessarily going to find them in the same places that you do during the springtime. Faucett recommends understanding the philosophy of where they are and why. “They’re not in the water because it’s wet. They go to a specific spot because of food and comfort. You have to try to get into the head of the fish.”
“These guys like to head to deeper water in the winter time,” according to Faucett. “The fish follow the bait.” Sounds pretty simple, right? That’s because it is.” Even if it’s just by a few degrees, the fish move to where it’s relatively stable, making it more comfortable for the fish to congregate.
Just like the hungry fisherman that needs to hit up the Taco Bell for Tacos and Quesadillas on his way home from the lake, bass follow the bait fish to wherever they’re going because the bass are hungry. Know where your baitfish go, and you’ll know where your bass have gone. The old adage “find the bait, find the fish” applies here.
“You’ll find large schools of gizzard shad have moved to channel swings and ledges in the winter,” remarks Faucett. Bass are after gizzard shad, threadfin shad, bluegill, crawfish, etc, but even more focused on the shad. “In the wintertime their metabolism slows down and they’re not wanting to run around looking for food, chasing bait. They’ll just sit outside along a big school of shad and eat whenever they’re hungry.”
Bass Fishing Tips For Winter – Locating The Bass
Most fisherman make the mistake of remaining on the bank and fishing shallows in the wintertime. They’ll find some fish in the shallows, but not as many, so they won’t be as productive. Get yourself out there and work the water.
Faucett starts at the mouth of a feeder creek and looks for channel swings on points. He works his way in from the main mouth of the creek all the way to the rear of the creek, figuring out where the fish are congregating.
“Bass are always on the defensive. In my opinion, they’re the smartest fish on the lake.” The lateral line on their body can be used to detect bait or danger. Their senses are very strong, and they’re always trying to find something that they can rely on for safety. So they’ll be hanging out where they feel protected. “Specifically, I’m looking for brush piles, rocks, dock pilings, and anything that’s irregular in the water I’m fishing in. Even a barrel or tree that’s underwater.”
During the winter months, you’ll be looking toward the deeper than average depths, somewhere between 20 and 60 feet. “I start my search using down scan and structure scan on my Humminbird to locate schools of bait.”
This is where the free ANGLR app paired with a Bullseye can really come in handy, allowing you to register information about your catch locations, waypoints, and much more with just the press of a button.
Faucett makes regular use of it. “I like to go back to the house or the hotel if I’m on the road and review the locations and data I get from the ANGLR app!” I often find that ANGLR helps me home in on a pattern at the lake level, or in other words, something that’s happening on the map. The app helps me see patterns in the locations where I had the bites during the day.”
Bass Fishing Tips For Winter – Baits and Lures
Faucett uses an Alabama rig as much as he can with 1/8th to 1/4 ounce ball head jigs to get in deep. With the five lines and baits, it can successfully emulate a school of shad swimming around. Specifically, he uses a Yumbrella Flash Mob Jr rig because he’s had great success with it. He rigs it with 20# fluorocarbon instead of heavier braid because in clearer water, the fish aren’t able to see it as well. He typically uses eighth ounce ball head jigs paired 3” to 3 ½” swimbaits.
A lot of people may be intimidated by the large bulky Alabama rig at first. “The biggest tip in the world is to just throw it, and throw it, and throw it. Don’t put it down. “When I first started throwing it, I used it for three months and never caught a fish with it. Everyone else was cracking fish all over, and I thought I was dumb,” Faucett laughs.
He tries as hard as he can to get it stuck on the bottom, catching every piece of trash he can down there. You’ll go through a brush pile or a pile of rocks on the bottom, and there’ll be a fish hugging really closely. “Sometimes if you snag something and pop it loose, the fish will react to that and eat it.”
“I don’t think it’s more difficult to catch fish in the winter time. I think it’s harder in our head because those conditions are hard on us: we’re cold, we’re miserable, we don’t like it.” The fish are a little more lethargic, so it’s not as easy to get them to bite, but once you figure out where they are and what they want, the Alabama rig makes it easier to get them to bite.
If you use light wire hooks, they make extricating yourself from a snag easy. “If they get stuck on a rock or stump I could just easily pull hard until they bend, and I can get my rig back.” There’s no need to use a heavy hook set. Faucett recommends just leaning into it a bit.
He makes use of a 7”6’ heavy-action football jig rod, liking the way it handles the bait and action.
Once you find them, you’ll understand why they wound up where they did. For instance, you may find the fish were relating to a specific piece of cover because maybe a cold front was coming in and the cover and wind was causing the bait to position in a certain way, making it easy for the bass to ambush the bait as the wind comes over the point. Faucett sums it up. “Every day the conditions change somehow or another, so just having the mindset that you need to go out and calculate your casts is important.”