Winter bass fishing in Florida-Regardless of the weather, bass fishing in Florida can be an incredible experience. Winter fishing can be difficult, but there are some tips for fishing effectively in cold weather conditions here.
For most parts of Florida, bass fishing is a year-round activity. Having been born and raised in Central Florida, I have been fishing here my whole life and have identified some patterns and techniques that prove to be effective. Take a look at these nine tips to catch bass in Florida during the winter season.
How to Successfully Winter Bass Fishing in Florida
For Florida Cold Weather Bass, look for deep structure.
When cold water enters their system, bass in Florida, like those in other parts of the country, migrate to deeper water. Using electronics in conjunction with a good charting system such as Navionics is an excellent way to identify areas of the lake or river with good structure.
Although some Florida lakes, such as Lake Okeechobee, are too shallow to have a much good deep water structure, there are plenty in Florida that offer opportunities to catch bass offshore.
When I’m winter bass fishing in Florida, I look for offshore holes, ditches, or other topographic variations that stand out from the rest of the underwater landscape and present some kind of deviation from the norm. Fishing those areas during the colder months yields the best results for bass dealing with colder water temperatures.
A Carolina rig or even a drop shot presentation (an unusual approach for Florida, but one that works in tough situations) are two of the best presentations for fishing in tough conditions in slower situations. Check out the recommended Carolina rig configuration below. I recommend using a fluorocarbon line for either presentation (found at Amazon).
Fish a deep section of the system where structure and cover coexist. Try fishing in a river channel bend with grass cover, for example. The bass hides where cover and structure meet.
Catching Bass in Shallow Water in the Winter
Look for shallow areas of the lake that have been wind-protected for several days in a row to catch bass in shallow water during the winter in Florida. These areas may be warmer than the rest of the lake, attracting bass seeking warmer water.
One trick I’ve used to find bass during colder weather in Florida is to look for areas of the lake that may warm faster during the day than other parts of the lake. In the days leading up to my fishing trips, I like to check weather forecasts and pay close attention to the wind direction.
The water in areas of the lake that are protected from the wind for several days in a row may be less disturbed and suffer less from the cooling effect that the wind may have on the water.
When I arrive at the lake, I will check the water temperature in several areas to get a sense of the current water temperature conditions. I’ll then check a few wind-protected spots in the lake that I’ve marked. If I notice that any of those areas are warmer than the rest of the lake, they become prime candidates for my day’s fishing.
Even in cold Florida weather, Topwater will continue to work well. Work is VERY SLOW. Try the Rebel Lures Popper, which is available on Amazon, and prepare to hook up with some Florida bass!
Extend the Spawning Area to Find Winter Florida Bass
Florida is a distinct state with distinct weather patterns. Because the water in the “Sunshine State” stays warm for much of the year, bass fishermen can enjoy an unusually long spawning season.
Because the spawning season never seems to end, anglers should look for opportunities to fish areas where a bass stage or set up for the spawn. When the weather starts to get cold, I like to start with obvious spawning areas. After locating a spawning area, I look for the nearest deep water or offshore structure site where bass can position themselves for bedding season. but not as my primary fishing target
Check out what can be found on Amazon for an excellent book that explains seasonal bass movement. The Seasonal Largemouth Bass Patterns Pocket Guide
Whether they’re bedding or not, bass tend to associate with spawning areas all year. The distance between the spawning area and the bass will be determined by water temperature and moon phases.
For example, bass prefers residential canals for spawning in many lakes in Florida (and across the country). I move AWAY from the canals as the water temperature drops.
As the water warms, I move closer to the canal mouths. As the water temperature approaches but does not reach spawning temperatures, I look for cover or structure just outside canal mouths. When I suspect that bass is getting ready to spawn due to a warming trend during the winter months, I might look for a group of lily pads thirty to fifty yards out in front of a canal.
Finally, when the weather cooperates (and the moon phase coincides), I’ll relocate to the canal because the bass will bed there.
Multiple Presentations Might Be Required
When it gets cold in Florida, the metabolism of the bass slows, which means they don’t need as much food and aren’t as willing to travel as far to get it.
In ideal conditions, I might make one cast to a general area where bass hide to entice them to bite. To elicit a strike in colder weather, I may need to make multiple presentations of one piece of cover at different angles. Simply put, when the weather is cold, you may have to land the lure or bait right on a bass’ nose or “annoy” them to get them to bite.
Understand the Difference Between North and South Florida Bass
Understanding that different parts of the state fish differently than others is critical in determining Florida bass fishing. Common sense tells us that winter lasts longer in North Florida than in South Florida, but the implications are what matter here.
Bass fishing in a north Florida lake in December can be very different from bass fishing in a south Florida lake. Winter bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee is vastly different from that on a panhandle lake like Lake Seminole.
Central and South Florida lakes can spawn much earlier in the year, whereas North Florida lakes have a shorter spawning period. Furthermore, many North Florida lakes, such as Lake Talquin, are excellent candidates for traditional offshore wintertime fishing techniques such as ledge fishing, whereas South Florida lakes, such as Okeechobee, are not.
Understanding How Cold Fronts Affect Florida Fishing
Cold fronts, like much of the rest of the country, have a significant impact on bass temperament. Fish tend to go into “feeding frenzy” mode just before a cold front. The activity usually picks up right before the front.
Typically, postfrontal conditions have the opposite effect. Because of the colder water, bass usually slows down and become less aggressive. The air pressure is usually higher after a cold front, causing fish to mentally “retreat” as their bodies adjust to physiological changes caused by the new conditions.
When bass fishing in Florida after a cold front, I try to adjust my tactics to match the temperament of the bass. When a cold front passes through, I slow my retrieve cadence significantly and fish slower-moving baits whenever possible.
Use Slower Tactics to Match Bass Metabolism
Because of the slower metabolism in the winter, bass becomes lethargic. One unique technique I like to employ is dead sticking a plastic worm around grass edges… and yes, there is usually some grass in Florida lakes during the winter. Because bass is not as aggressive, it is critical to LET IT SIT FOR LONGER THAN USUAL. Bass may stare at your bait and ponder for a long time before acting.
Slow rolling a smaller crankbait ((I like the KVD square bills (Amazon)), Carolina rigging, and fishing a wacky rig can all be effective cold weather lures and bait for winter bass fishing in Florida.
Try Shiners: Florida Bass Candy.
I’m a big fan of artificial bait because I compete in bass fishing tournaments, and live bait is not permitted.
Shiners, on the other hand, are a fisherman’s best friend when it comes to winter bass fishing in Florida. Bass simply can’t get enough of them. They’re bass magnets around here. The free lining is effective, as is tying one on with a bobber and holding on for the catch!
Pay Close Attention to Early Spawn Signs
Florida is unlike any other state due to its tropical weather, particularly in the state’s central and southern regions. The spawning months can begin as early as January and last until the middle of the year (early June).
For bedding to begin, water temperatures should be around 68 to 70 degrees. When I see a consistent warming trend close to a full moon period, I look for signs of spawning.
Florida is an excellent fishing state. The weather in this area allows bass fishermen to fish all year long without having to stop. Temperatures in most of the state remain relatively mild in comparison to the rest of the country, making the sunshine state a perennial favorite for bass fishermen all over the world. Also, check out our article on the Best Bass Fishing Apps to Improve Your Fishing Skill.