by Louis White, Secret Weapon Prostaff
When the weather starts to chill down and the leaves are falling off the trees, don’t put up the poles just yet. We all hate “cabin” fever so let’s cut it down as short as possible.What exactly happens to fish and other wildlife as cold weather approaches? They all go into a feeding frenzy.
Lets take and break down a body of water that has a little or no grass and the water temperature drops to say 55 degrees here in southern Virginia. By then the air temperatures are usually around 30 degrees at night and may hit 65 during the daytime. The little bit of grass starts to die off, and the baitfish start to move up into the shallows following the deepest water they can find.
One thing that happens when shad die off is that they sink. Yes they sink. When they are dieing they will drop to the bottom and “flutter” back up a little and sink again. This is where slow-rolling a spinner-bait will bring in an awesome bag of largemouth, smallmouth, and rockfish (land-locked striped bass).
To slow-roll a spinnerbait at this time of the year, I use a Secret Weapon Lures brand 9/16-ounce Sidearm spinnerbait. I also use a 7-foot Quantum spinning rod with a Quantum Energy E30PTi-A model so I can make a long cast down a creek channel and let the bait hit bottom. I use Izorline XXX Supermono in 8-pound test for open and clear water and go up to 15-pound test when there is dirty water or a lot of cover to fight the fish through. Count the lure down about one second per foot of depth you are fishing, and then start retrieving your spinnerbait slowly so you can feel the bottom as you reel in. If I lose contact with the bottom I let the spinnerbait fall back to the bottom then resume reeling it.
Another way I have found to fish in cold water is to use my Secret Weapon spinnerbait like a jig. The short-arm Sidearm with a single Colorado blade is well-suited for this, too. I rig it on my Quantum PT706F medium heavy rod with a Quantum E760Pt baitcasting reel with 15-pound test Izorline XXX Supermono. To do this I find some underwater structure and pinpoint the end of it with my Lowrance electronics. Then I back off the structure about 20 feet and flip the spinnerbait about 10 feet past the end of the structure and let it hit bottom. Sometimes the bass pick it up before it hits the bottom and other times they let it hit the bottom first. After I flipped it out I will bounce it off the bottom about four to six inches at the time, pausing about five to ten seconds between each bounce. After I move it about ten or twelve feet I bring it in fast and flip it out again. Try flipping it to the structure six or seven times at least before moving on to your next location.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking it is too cold to fish or that a cold front has just came thru and the fish have “lockjaw.” This is a popular misconception; I have learned that if a cold front comes thru you need to have confidence in yourself and your equipment. Slow your presentation down and make it smaller. Go to a 3/16-ounce Secret Weapon spinnerbait. Look in deeper water where the fish are less affected by the barometric pressure and temperature change of a cold front. Bass know that when this happens, hunting food for them is harder so they change their feeding habits to match. They do not want to expend much effort to find and catch a meal that may or may not be there so it is very important to learn how to use your electronics very well to pinpoint these “schooling” bass during these times. Once you have found fish during cold weather or during and after a cold front do not make a mistake and move too fast, these fish are normally “stacked up,” and if you are catching two-pound fish chances are you will catch a limit of two pounders here.
With Secret Weapon spinnerbaits you can do what no other spinnerbait will let you do. You can add as many blades as you want or take as many off as you want in seconds without having to retie your spinnerbait. For wintertime fishing the water is normally clearer so I prefer natural colored skirts and will double up and put two skirts on one head to make the impression that it is a larger baitfish, and I will use gold and colored number four, five and six Colorado blades. Good luck and stay safe.