Winter is definitely here and the fish in Lake Travis know it too! Once it gets below about 55 degrees out you will hear me complaining. I absolutely hate the cold! When its cold out I get a little lethargic and so do the fish... knowing this helps you understand what baits to tie on and how to approach the fish.
As of 2021 I am going to make a greater effort to start filming more videos for y'all. My video editing skills are sub par to say the least, so bear with me as I learn what the heck I am doing. Also, if you have any specific techniques or topics you would like covered, please comment on the video or on my social media. I would love to hear from you.
This video covers a lot of what I would write in this report, but let's discuss a little more in depth why I am recommending the 5 baits I covered.
Water temperature is by far one of the largest factors that influence how the bass behave and what they do. Water temperature affects dissolved oxygen levels in the lake, where the bait fish live, and the slowing of the bass' metabolism.
Largemouth bass are cold blooded and as the fish get colder their metabolisms slow causing them to be more lethargic. This isn't to say they won't feed, but they do become more selective and less aggressive. You will notice fish become more aggressive during brief feeding windows rather than feeding all day long.
When the fish are like this I approach them in two ways. Either I fish very slow, or I fish very fast. Jigs, ned rigs, drop shots, and Texas rigs are all good ways to present a bait slowly along the bottom to entice that feeding bite. During the winter I will pause my bait a lot longer than I normally would. Its not uncommon for me to let my bait sit there for 5 to 10 seconds before moving it. One, this helps maintain bottom contact, and two it makes the bait easier for the fish to catch up too. During winter I often fish deep, which on Travis can be 30-45 feet of water. For some anglers this can make staying on the bottom a little tougher, this long pause helps over come this.
For largemouth bass winter time is about survival. Their goal is to expend as little energy as possible, burn as few calories as they have to, yet still feed. A slow moving bait paused on the bottom makes for an easy meal. Another little tip for you to go along with this... if they bite is tough when you are out on the water, try downsizing baits. This is where the ned rig and the drop shot come into play. These small easy to eat morsels are perfect for finicky bass.
As I mentioned earlier, you can also catch bass fishing fast this time of year. Bass are instinctive creatures and will hit a fast moving bait not because they are hungry but because its in their DNA. This bite is referred to as a reaction bite. When I find fish on the graph, especially if they are suspended this is how I like to try and catch them first. A Picasso School-E rig is my favorite Alabama rig to throw this time of year, I have used a variety of brands and you will save money spending a little more on this rig. I can easily catch 3-4 times as many fish on a Picasso A rig as a Yumbrella rig or other big box brand, before the wires start snapping off. A crankbait and a jerkbait are also in my top baits. Crankbaits are excellent search baits to cover a lot of water. My video covers a lot of great info about selecting a crankbait during the winter, so let's skip to a jerkbait.
If you need a refresher, here is a video I filmed last year with a lot of details about how to fish this bait. Give it a watch!
A jerkbait is another one of my favorite baits to throw in the winter. While it didn't make the list of my top 5, it is an excellent bait when the water is cold. For me, this is a bait I pull out once the water is in the 50's. I will rip this bait in a one, one two cadence and give it long pauses between twitching it. The colder it is the longer I will pause the bait. Try this bait the next time you graph over a point and see a couple arches up off the bottom.
During the winter the top and bottom of the water column are roughly the same temperature. Bass are more comfortable in water that is the same consistent temperature. The top part of the water column is more prone to fluctuation, so bass in the winter will move deep since there isn't a benefit to moving up shallow. Consistently you will find bass out deeper December through February (until they get in their pre spawn mode). There is an exception to this though, on warm days when the sun has been warming the rocks some fish will move up to to feed. On lakes that don't have a lot of rock you will find these fish up shallow along dam rip rap, break walls, and launch ramps. On Lake Travis everything is pretty much rock, so I look for shorelines that have the sun facing them. This shallow bite is typically best in the evening.