If we’re not looking forward, we’re left behind.
As anglers, we’re always looking to improve upon ourselves, whether that be a new technique learning knew ways to find a pattern, or the art of learning how to play the drag when you’re fighting a giant. Sometimes, when we’ve all-but mastered one of those challenges, we feel the need to change things up a bit. We might switch things around and go after a completely different species altogether, just for the thrill of heading into new territory.
If you’re like ANGLR Expert, Taurus Lopez, you may elect to chase your favorite catch out into unfamiliar seasons. As he found out, cold water bass fishing is a whole different ball game from warm water angling. This guy’s been tournament fishing for over 15 years . . . . in warmer climates. He decided to set out this year and try something different! We convinced him to tell us all about his experience.
YOUR BASS FISHING RESOURCE CENTER
Meet Taurus Lopez
I’ve been fishing for as long as I could remember, I’ve always been fishing for anything that would bite a hook. I didn’t really get serious about it until I matured a little bit more and had a really good job that offered me a lot of free time. I had a void to fill and needed to keep myself out of trouble, so I started to get competitive with my fishing habit!
Now, I’m absolutely obsessed with bass fishing. I love the challenge of it. It gets addicting trying to home in on a pattern. I got into tournament fishing in local club tournaments around 2003. My friend and I heard about a local club, so we decided to sign up and see what happened. Next thing I knew, I was buying a bass boat, we were fishing tournaments and getting our rear ends handed to us.
That really made me want to fish harder, learn more, and educate myself. That really competitive aspect of tournament fishing just pulled me in.
I just started fishing open tournaments after my regular club season was over in October. I’m normally a summertime, shallow-water bass angler, but I decided to take myself a little bit out of my realm. This year, I wanted to see what happened and challenge myself. I began fishing in deeper waters to become a more versatile angler. I entered a couple of open tournaments in October, and caught some solid fish. After seeing the quality that I could catch in the fall, I became curious about the winter bite and began fishing even deeper and slower as the colder weather blew in.
What Makes Cold Water Bass Fishing Different
It’s been a learning lesson for me, that’s how I’m taking it. When you fish cold water, the bass are deeper, than where they position to feed in the summertime. They do go deep in the summer, but they’re more active when they pull into the shallows to feed. That’s what created my love for the shallow summertime bite.
In the fall months, the fish tend to start feeding up and getting ready for the winter. They start heading deeper towards the more climate-controlled water. The water temperature is around 40℉, whereas in the summer, it’s 80°F.
I’d best describe myself as a power-fisherman. You could usually catch me beating the banks, flipping and pitching. This year, I switched it up in a few open tournaments that I wanted to fish in October. I started doing a lot of pre-fishing early in the month and got in a lot of good practice. I was really catching a lot of fish and loving the different techniques!
In October, the water temperature was right around 60°F. Every week, the temperature would drop down at least 5°F to 10°F, depending on where I was on the water. At that point, I was really catching the fish in about 16 foot of water and the fish were still more aggressive. Because of that, I was able to throw a crankbait, the Berkeley Dredger, so I could still do a little more power-fishing while constantly searching for fish.
It just so happened that my first day out in October, the fish were literally jumping on the bait. That got me curious. I was so stoked to be catching a lot of fish, and big fish in October. In all the time I’ve been fishing, I’ve never tried it. So, then I was really gung ho to continue to fish until the ice.
I’m really just trying to learn the deeper water, as I think it’s a harder technique for me. Everyone has their specialties: shallow water, deep water, finessing, power-fishing or some variation of the above. In the colder water, finding the fish was a little more difficult, so you have to learn to use your electronics to target and find the fish.
In the summer, they’re usually on the banks, so you could just throw almost anywhere around cover or structure in the hopes of catching the fish. In October, that was the case in the beginning, then they started to move out to that 16’ of water. In colder weather they’re more scattered. They’re schooled up, but they have a wider variety of water they could be found in.
I have my regular fish finder, a Humminbird and have started using the ANGLR app paired with the Bullseye to search the maps to find deep water structure. When I locate fish, I log my catches and set my waypoints. It’s working out very well. I’m able to keep the records of my outings and compare my trips to learn how the fish act in different conditions.
Sometimes, You Gotta Change Your Technique
Now that it’s November, I’m catching them in 20 to 30 foot and sometimes even 40 foot of water. In six feet, it’s much easier to get your line down there. At 40 foot, it’s more difficult and requires more patience. I started using heavier weights, but it really comes down to making myself have the patience to let my bait take the time to get down there.
As a power-fisherman, that can be difficult for me. I count down, waiting for the bait to hit the bottom. In six feet of water, I only count down to three before I start working it back. In 20 to 30 foot, I count the bait down 20 to 40 seconds. I’m still looking to improve on that, but I began using a heavier bait or jig head to get it down there a little faster.
With a 40° water temperature, they’re hugging the bottom, so you really have to use your electronics and focus on fishing vertically; jigging up and down. With a cold water bite, you really have to finesse things: get the right weight, figuring out how are they biting, learning how fast do they want it moving and if they are biting it on the fall.
Now, as the ice is beginning to set in on some pockets of the lakes I’m fishing, I’m targeting bass on humps and points or ones that are staging on deep water structure. Every week it seems like the fish got deeper and deeper and harder to catch. I slowed down my presentation to almost dragging the bottom with just a slight snap of the rod every so often. I’m almost not even feeling the bite anymore; it’s just a subtle tic.
Cold Water Bass Fishing: Change Your Gear Up
With barely being able to feel the bite, having the right gear really comes into play. I’m throwing a 6 to 8 pound test fluorocarbon leader tied to braid to help me get the bait down faster. The rods and reels I reach for are Diawa and Abu Garcia. I’ve also started using more of a finesse techniques as the colder weather droned on, along with using smaller baits. Black seems to be the color for me. I’m also throwing hair jigs (Outkast Seth Feider), small grubs (Yamamoto Twin Tail Hula Grubs), swim jigs (6th Sense Divine), small swimbaits (Keitech Swing Impact), spoons (Johnsons), and drop Shots (Yum Warning Shot).
Sometimes I throw a ⅜ to ½ ounce weight to get it down faster. Other times I’ve had to downsize my weight. Using the drop shots, I’d use a six inch leader to keep the bait not very far off the bottom.
Since the fish are really hugging the floor, you don’t want your bait higher up in the water column like you do in the summertime. They’re so close to the bottom right now that you can barely pick them up on the graph.
With the cold water pushing plenty of anglers off the water and onto the couch, don’t miss out on the opportunity to have the lake to yourself! Cold water bass fishing can be an absolute blast as long as you’re willing to slow down and learn from the fish! Expand on the knowledge you already know about bass fishing, and try a new technique, or like me, an entirely new season for bass fishing.