“Au­tumn / Win­ter... Where Did All The Bass Go?”

Where Did All The Bass Go?

SA Bass - - Contents - >> Gary Peter*

We are at that time of year again, the dreaded au­tumn and win­ter fish­ing – Gary Peter

We are at that time of year again, the dreaded au­tumn and win­ter fish­ing. As an­glers, we all get down as af­ter an awe­some spring and sum­mer filled with great catches in both size and num­bers we are now faced with spend­ing hours fish­ing for hardly any fish and with most of our catches be­ing small. We all have asked the ques­tions; Where did all the fish go? Where have all the big fish gone?

I’ve heard the “switch” the­ory, as I’m sure you all have when your fish­ing buddy turns to you and says...” some­one must have turned the switch off”. I’ve even heard a the­ory that ev­ery dam has a lid at the bot­tom and come win­ter they open the lid and all the big fish go un­der­ground for win­ter.

The ques­tion we should be ask­ing is; What changes do I need to make to find the fish and catch the big ones? The bass are still there, yes they are more lethar­gic and a lot less ac­tive but bass still need to eat, the win­ter is long they have to sus­tain them­selves. Where they go and how they hunt is what changes and if we can un­der­stand why then we can be­gin to out­smart those green sneaky scoundrels and get them back on our lures and into our boats.

Okay that be­ing said; let’s look at the bass it­self. They are cold blooded and when the wa­ter is warmer so is their blood and warm blood means warm mus­cles which in turn

mean they can swim fast and ac­cel­er­ate from stand­still in a flash. They can at­tack prey more “ag­gres­sively”.

Come win­ter the wa­ter is colder there­fore, so is their blood and mus­cles. This means they move slower and ac­cel­er­ate a lot slower from stand­still. It now takes way more calo­ries for them to get their mus­cles and blood warmer from swim­ming. When we are cold we can’t just start sprint­ing, we will hurt our­selves, we need to stretch and jump around to get the warm blood flow­ing first. We hu­mans are warm blooded, mean­ing our blood is at a con­stant balmy temperature, un­like poor Mr. Bass. His blood is cold and stays cold so there is no jump­ing around for him. So ba­si­cally Mr. Bass in win­ter hunts way slower and uses the am­bush tac­tics in win­ter. He can’t swim fast so in­stead he hides be­hind or in struc­ture and waits for his food to come to him.

Also, the morn­ings and evenings in win­ter produce huge drops in temperature. The sur­face of the wa­ter can drop to as much as ten degrees in win­ter at night. Mr. Bass has cold mus­cles so he won’t be mov­ing around near as much look­ing for warmer or colder wa­ter. They hate changes in temperature. So for win­ter they pre­fer to move deeper where the wa­ter tem­per­a­tures are not af­fected by temperature changes at nigh like it does in the shal­lows.

So hav­ing learned that; What does that tell us about where to find the fish and what type of prey they will be eating? With our new un­der­stand­ing it is kind of clear, they will be look­ing for slower mov­ing baits in deeper wa­ter and tight on struc­ture! So it is now a case of watch­ing our find­ers look­ing for rock piles, trees and even chan­nel drops.

Try fish­ing a lot slower and even “dead stick­ing” your plas­tics. Cold bass pre­fer still prey that uses less en­ergy to catch. Deep wa­ter rigs like a Carolina rig, drop-shot and even a heav­ier Texas rig work very well fish­ing deep wa­ter struc­ture. The win­ter the­ory is “if you think you are fish­ing too slow then slow down even more”. I’m a be­liever in us­ing dips like gar­lic when fish­ing deep in win­ter or try us­ing a glass bead be­low your sinker to cre­ate small tic-tic noises mim­ick­ing crabs legs over rocks.

Will there still be bass in shal­lows?

Yes, those that haven’t had their full in the deeper wa­ter will move up into the shal­lows on those warmer days when the wa­ter does warm up in the shal­lows. Usu­ally around 11am they move up into the shal­lows to warm their blood a lit­tle so they can feed more ac­tively. (Note; more ac­tively, not ag­gres­sively.) So even when tar­get­ing shal­lower wa­ter in the late morn­ings you still need to move that bait slower. Swim your spin­ner­baits and cranks much slower, paus­ing them ev­ery few sec­onds can produce a re­ac­tion bite so don’t be afraid to try that, you will be sur­prised at how many fish I’ve caught by sim­ply stop­ping my re­trieve on cranks and spin­ners. Fish your plas­tics re­ally slow and pause ev­ery now and again as a prey stand­ing still is a lot eas­ier for a bass to eat in the cold win­ter.

By chang­ing where you fish and how you fish you will be truly sur­prised how you will catch those big­ger fish again and catch more fish than you nor­mally do in win­ter. Look, win­ter fish­ing is harder and it takes pa­tience and dis­ci­pline to fish real slow all day, but it is well worth it. Another good thing to keep in mind is most big bass in win­ter feel small on the line at first, but once their mus­cles get warmer from the fight they tend to get a turbo like boost half way to the boat and catch you by com­plete sur­prise so play ev­ery fish as if it is a gi­ant.

At the time of writ­ing this ar­ti­cle I’ve been fish­ing deep wa­ter al­ready as its cold in May and the bass have al­ready started mov­ing deep. I’ve had some good suc­cess in 18 to 30ft al­ready and have caught some solid pigs deep as you see in the at­tached pic­tures. Per­son­ally I like to fish a lot of heavy Texas rigs in win­ter. It gets the bait down fast and one can re­ally feel di­rect con­tact with the struc­ture be­low. I also use Carolina rigs on those windy days when you can’t feel the Texas as good as in calmer wa­ter. Also re­mem­ber, even when fish­ing shal­lower in the late warmer morn­ings, fish tight against the struc­ture, again bass are hid­ing in an am­bush pat­tern so don’t be afraid to pitch deep into the reeds and struc­ture. A re­ally slow rolled (reeled real slow) spin­ner­bait with pauses can be deadly. When crank­ing, use deeper cranks than the wa­ter you fish­ing. By dig­ging the bill into the bot­tom, it al­lows you to re­trieve the crank way slower and it im­i­tates a bait fish for­ag­ing on the bot­tom. So next time your buddy says “some­one turned the switch off” you can say “maybe, but I know where to find that switch and DAMN I’m gonna be turn­ing it on!”

Like the say­ing goes slowly-slowly catch a mon­key, slowly-slowly catch a don­key!

So get out there and smash those cold wa­ter swamp don­keys .... reeeeeeeeal slow! May you all get bent and go

tight proper!

Try fish­ing a lot slower and even “dead stick­ing” your plas­tics

Fish tight against the struc­ture

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