Winter Bass Fishing Survival Pack

Winter is here, but Missouri’s great bass fishing is still going strong. There are three lures you need in your arsenal to develop a fishing system to get you well into spring.

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I have always tried to keep my bass fishing as simple as possible by focusing in on two of a bass’ main source of food, crayfish (or as we say in Missouri – crawdads) and shad (gizzard and threadfin). That means crayfish lures in greens and browns and shad lures in silvers and white.

With each of these three lures, the “system” is more than just the lure but the rod, reel, and line type and size, which can be critical to your success. Weather and lake conditions dictate which lures will work best on any particular day, but my advice is to experiment with them all each and every day, changing throughout the day to maximize on your number of bites.

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I will usually try all three on a particular spot or area before moving to the next, often finding individual bass that are biting on one lure or the other.

In no particular order of importance are my top three system picks:

  • A “suspending jerkbait” is a lure that resembles a shad. This lure is manufactured by many companies and comes in numerous sizes and colors.  In my system, I throw the jerkbait on a medium action graphite rod, baitcasting reel, and 10# fluorocarbon line.  The 10# line is small enough to allow the lure to dive to about 6 feet deep but is also strong enough to handle big fish.
  • The Storm Wiggle Wart is a crawfish imitation “crankbait.” The wide wobble triggers strikes from sluggish coldwater bass. Green phantom and brown crawfish are my first two colors of choice for clear water. To best fish the Wiggle Wart, my crankbait system calls for a long medium action cranking rod, with a baitcasting reel and 6# monofilament line. Cranking rods are more flexible and forgiving than graphite rods and help you keep fish hooked when using the light line. I pick 6# because the small line diameter lets the lure dive deeper and the key to triggering strikes is banging the lure off rocks and submerged objects. Many fishermen are cautious of line that small and will only downsize to 8# or 10#. I think I have proven over the years that I can get more bites on the 6# but you have to go with what you are most comfortable with.
  • I use Jewel Bait Company jigs, because I think they are the best jigs on the market. For cold water conditions I choose the 5/16 ounce finesse jig and craw in crawfish colors like brown or peanut butter and jelly. My system calls for a medium heavy jig rod with a high speed baitcasting reel, and 10# fluorocarbon line. The fluorocarbon line has low stretch so you can feel more bites. It sometimes gets brittle in cold weather so keep an eye out for weak spots. Drag the jig slowly on the bottom with slow pulls or shake the jig in place instead of hopping the jig and giving it a lot of action in cold water. Bites often feel like you have moss on your lure or it just feels heavy.

You will catch more fish by adding this time proven systems to your fishing arsenal and looking for the clearest water you can find on your lake. You may even catch some big slab crappie in your bass fishing endeavors.

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