The best bass lures for winter in Florida
Irrespective of the climatic conditions, bass fishing in Florida can be a remarkable encounter. Although winter fishing can present its challenges, there are certain tactics to optimize your fishing proficiency in cold weather conditions, which are outlined here.
Bass fishing in Florida is truly a year-round sport for the majority of the state. I was born and raised in Central Florida, and I’ve fished here my entire life, so I’ve noticed a few patterns and tricks that consistently work. Check out these 9 tips for catching bass in Florida during the winter. If you’re still unsure where to go, check out our recent article on Best Fishing Lakes in Florida.
The Best Bass Lures for Winter in Florida
Coldwater bass anglers are well-versed in the use of the suspending jerkbait. It was a toss-up between the jerkbait and the crankbait for this spot, but because the lipless crankbait is so versatile, I left it off the list. Most lakes, even those that were a little muddy in the summer, will clear up in the winter. There is less boat traffic and fewer plankton and other organisms that typically color lake water.
As a result, the suspending jerkbait is one of my favorite winter bass baits. Work this bait along bluff banks where bass will suspend in the winter so they can easily transition from one depth to another. Bring the bait down to the desired depth, then begin a jerk-jerk-pause retrieve. The water temperature usually dictates the pause, but sometimes you just have to experiment and let the bass tell you what they want. You may need to pause for up to a minute. Just be patient, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
In the winter, the bass is after dying shad. The action of these dying shad is usually determined by the temperature of the water. That is the action you will want to replicate in your presentation. The dying shad’s action is usually invisible. As a result, you must experiment with different cadences in your presentation until you get a bite. You can use your electronics to determine the depth of the shad so you know how deep they are schooling.
A jerkbait worked above the baitfish will attract hungry bass. Your jerkbait imitates a struggling shad that can’t keep up with the baitfish as they move away in their defensive ball. When this occurs, the predators that are following the shad will race to be the first to catch it. This is why, even when the bass is sluggish, the take may feel like the bass nearly rips the rod out of your hand.
Another excellent coldwater option that many anglers overlook is using jerkbaits as topwater bait. Twitching a floating-style jerkbait, such as the Original Floating Rapala, can be lethal on winter bass, especially in clear water. Bass will come up from 20 feet in clear water to smash a jerkbait that is twitching. After being beaten (well, we all were) by our boss with a limit of good-sized smallmouth bass, I learned this technique. His grin revealed how he caught that bass. He’d told me about this technique long before the tournament. I never used it and never caught a fish. Neither did my companion.
When the water temperature drops, bass like this can still be caught.
Before and after the derby, the boss man was open about his strategies. He told me that he knew all of the young bass anglers lacked patience and would abandon the floater before it paid off. He was correct, and he converted me into a believer. After that, I found myself using it frequently. It not only produces excellent bass, but it is also a fun way to catch them in the winter.
High floaters, such as the Rapala, are ideal for this presentation. Because the bait is usually light, a spinning rod is the best choice for this tactic. Light line is also important, and it is much easier to manage on spinning gear. A spinning reel with a smooth drag and a medium-light or even light-action rod is ideal. Where this presentation shines, the water is frequently clear. Your initial thought may be to use a fluorocarbon line. However, because monofilament floats, it is the best line for this. To get the most water disturbance with each subtle twitch, you want the bait to ride high on the surface. Monofilament is the best for this.
This technique works best on bluff walls near a transition zone. Bass prefers to congregate in areas where they can easily access different depths, and transition zones with a bluff wall provide them with that option. With changing conditions, the bass will move vertically up and down the wall. On clear winter days, they like to move up on transition areas like points and flats to catch the sun’s rays. Keep a low profile around the shallow, clear water. Make long casts to avoid spooking the bass you intend to catch.
The blade bait is a simple bait with features that may not appeal to anglers in the bait store, but its subtle appearance and action are lethal on coldwater bass. These little baits are extremely versatile, and whether you find bass in deep water and need to jig it like a spoon through suspended fish, or you find them up shallow where the best presentation is the pump action, the blade bait works fantastically.
The pump action involves slowly raising the blade bait off the bottom or from a school of bass. Then, on a slack line, let it wiggle back. This is done on a light line, and keeping the treble hook on the bait from hanging up when the bass isn’t suspended takes some practice. However, it works. This winter, give it a shot.
My favorite all-around coldwater bass bait is the lipless crankbait. This bait can be fished in a variety of ways, from ripping it through the grass to stroking it on the flats. The Rapala Rippin’ Rap is my personal favorite lipless crankbait. This bait is heavy enough to cast a mile, but subtle enough to move slowly through the water column, generating the slow action and sound that triggers reaction strikes, which is critical for catching more coldwater bass.
These reaction strikes frequently result in barely hooking the bass and sometimes hooking it on the outside of its mouth where it simply swiped the bait. Without the proper setup, you will frequently rip the hooks from the bass without even realizing you had a bite. Slow retrieves with monofilament and a limber rod are ideal for lipless crankbait fishing. The monofilament will stretch along with the limber rod, increasing the hook ratio and, ultimately, the number of basses in the boat.
The wacky worm is one of the most underutilized winter presentations, trailing only the jig and jerkbait. The wacky worm is one of those presentations that produce bites under a variety of conditions, including cold water. In the water, the strange worm doesn’t look like much. However, bass will respond to it when nothing else appears to be working. It’s also not just for small fish. When the water is cold, the wacky worm will catch big bass and is a great way to catch the biggest bass in the area. A free-falling wacky worm can trigger big bites when the bite is tough and the bass are picky.
When the water temperature drops, use a light line with no weight. A medium or medium-light rod with a spinning reel can handle the light line and detect subtle winter bites. Simply toss your wacky worm into the air and let it fall. Feed some line to your bait so that it falls straight down through the water column, imparting its subtle action until it reaches the bottom.
The bite will be light and often go undetected, so keep an eye on your line. You may notice a twitch or the line may simply stop before reaching the bottom. This indicates that you have a bite. Setting the hook with a super-sharp, thin-wire hook requires only a slow sweep of the rod.
The jig is an excellent choice for coldwater bass. In the summer, I use plastic trailers with lots of action because the environment requires it. The mood and activity in the water slow down in the winter. Your jig performance should be a slow drag, inching its way over cover like a cold crawdad.
Like straight tail worms or fixed pincers on a crawdad trailer, your trailer should have less action. When the water is cold, the bass anticipates this. You’ll get more bites if you “match the hatch” with the bass’ surroundings. Working the jig slowly down rocky banks this winter can net you some big coldwater bass, especially in the late winter when the days get longer and a little warmer.
Anxious females will pull up early in preparation for the spring spawn, and they will frequently spawn early as well. This is something the bass has instinctively developed so that some bass will spawn regardless of what happens in the spring. These bass are hard to come by. However, once the pattern is established, you can find one or two good bass in those spawning transition zones. Creeks appear to attract bass early in the season. So, look for creeks where the water flowing into the lake is warmer than the lake itself, attracting bass early while winter is still present.
Avoid the cold by fishing for bass.
It can be difficult to catch bass in the winter. However, with the right baits and techniques, you can catch bass all winter long. Winter bass fishing is a great way to get out of the house, and while it may be cold outside when you hook into a big bass, you quickly forget about the cold.
Winter bass fishing is also a great time to find those hidden stumps or boulders that are underwater when the bass migrate up to spawn in the spring. Give the topwater jerkbait tip a shot this winter, but give it some time. I guarantee you that after a couple of good bites on that floater, you’ll be confident enough to sling it all day in anticipation of another.