Pro bass angler Josh Stracner keeps his winter bass fishing simple by using just a handful of proven lures. He shares his top 4 baits, which cover most open-water bass fishing locations from late fall to early spring. Which lure you have tied on is mainly based on water temperature and the general activity level of the bass. Without further ado, here are Stracner’s core lineup and how each fills its own unique winter bass fishing niche.
A suspending jerkbait should come as no surprise for winter bass fishing die-hards, as it’s the ultimate do-all, freestyle moving bait in that you can fish it on a continuum between fast and slow. There is a lot of nuance to jerkbaits, but Stracner always strives to have them suspend. That’s right; he doesn’t want them to sink or float. Fire out a long cast, reel the jerkbait down to depth and let it sit. While gentle twitches can work, experiment with hard jerks followed by long pauses. Generally speaking, long pauses between jerks trigger more bites than continually working the bait. Fishing Gear
Not all crankbaits are created equally. Flat-sided crankbaits have a gentler action and vibration that cold-water bass find irresistible. Just remember, winter doesn’t always mean fish deeper. Stracner also targets winter bass in extremely shallow water, especially on warmer winter days and in the afternoon, when bass can warm themselves. Try using a slower reel and stay focused on crawling the crankbait across the bottom and over cover elements.
It seems counter-intuitive, but a bulky jig might be the best option when bass are feeding on the bottom. A multi-purpose jig in the 1/2-ounce range allows Stracner to flip, pitch, or drag across the bottom SLOWLY. He prefers wide-bodied creature-style baits to flatten and slow the fall rate of his jigs, a big plus in cold water.
Think of wobble head jigs (aka swinging jigs) as a more weedless crankbait that allows you to experiment quickly with different soft plastics. Creature baits are just one style that excels with wobble head jigs. Try swimbaits for a realistic bottom-based baitfish action. The constant bottom contact is an excellent trigger and, nearly as importantly, helps determine bottom composition.
Baitcasting Reel Stracner’s bottom line takeaway is to 1) simplify your winter bass fishing lures down to a handful of moving and bottom-contact baits and 2) fish slower and more methodically than you would during the warmer weather months.