Fishing a shallow square bill crankbait around wood in the wintertime is one of the best ways to break down cold, shallow water. As water temps drop into the forties, the bite slows drastically and a lot of anglers put down their power-fishing gear and abandon shallow water altogether. Contrary to popular belief, bass stay shallow year-round. That’s right, winter, spring, summer and fall. Not all bass obviously, but some. And some of those some are big ones.
Shallow Square Bill Crankbait: Approach
So how do you modify your approach to fish a square bill in shallow and cold water?
Well for starters, you certainly have to slow down. Way down. Not just your retrieve, but also the speed at which you cover water. You have to be much more thorough.
Bass are cold blooded, and cold blooded animals become lethargic in cold environments. So a bass isn’t likely to chase a bait like it would in warmer water conditions. Therefore you have to be really thorough when breaking down an area.
Shallow Square Bill Crankbait: Slow Down Your Retrieve
As previously mentioned, slowing your retrieve is important. On a few particularly cold trips when the water temperature was in the low forties, I have actually had to slow my retrieve to where I could just barely feel the bait wobbling back and forth. At times, I would feel as though I had a leaf or a small stick hung on my bait only to have a 3-pound bass roll over and come to the surface. I have caught bass this way that were so lethargic they would still have mud on their bellies where they had been sitting in one place for a long time and hadn’t fought at all on the way to the boat.
I know this is hard to believe.
I didn’t want to believe the first person that told me he had seen that either. But I did believe him. Because that lesson came on the heels of a 15-pound beat down my dad delivered to me in a club tournament. Three of us fished the same area all day. I had two fish for 3-pounds and the other guy zeroed. I went back out the next day and slowed down. Then I slowed down even more. And then finally when I had slowed my retrieve to the brink of boredom, I got bit. A 2-pounder, fighting like a twig, with mud on his belly when he came into the boat.
That made me a believer.
Shallow Square Bill Crankbait: Find the Cover
A bass’s lethargic nature in cold water is what makes cover so important. It gives bass an ambush point to sit by in hopes that something will come along that they can eat without exerting much energy. Cover also helps us as anglers fish slowly with confidence. Because the only thing harder than crawling a bait this slow is doing so without a target. You also want to focus on sunny banks in the wintertime. That’s not to say you want get bit in the shade, but your chances certainly go up around cover in the sunshine.
But just because you know where to throw, doesn’t mean you’re going to get bit.
Not necessarily right away at least. I have also, on several occasions, had to throw at a piece of cover multiple times in order to get bit. You can find a really good example of that at the 3 minute mark of this video I shot when the water temp was 47-degrees.
In summation, you can still catch bass on shallow square bill crankbaits in extremely cold water, but it won’t be easy. You have to be very disciplined and dedicated to get a bite and when you do, you’ve got to make that bite count because they’ll likely be few and far between.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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