Winter bass fishing tips for our Southern California fishing guide clients Castaic Lake, Pyramid Lake, Lake Casitas.
Winter bass fishing tips for our Southern California fishing guide clients Castaic Lake, Pyramid Lake, Lake Casitas 12/21/2016 – Before I even begin the Southern California bass fishing guide client tips segment I have to give a quick shout out to my great friend George Kramer at WON BASS. When I first started working at Western outdoor news seven or eight years ago George is actually the person that named my column “The Tauber Perspective”. He helped coach and guide me through my first several articles that I wrote and gave me good ideas on what topics to write about and taught me some of the finer points in putting together good stories. George Kramer is in my opinion without question the finest writer in the business when it comes to the sport of bass fishing. I actually started reading George’s columns when I was in my early teens and then met him when I became a professional bass angler in 1978. George used to interview me at press conferences when I happen to have a good day on the water. As I walked into the press conference George always looked at me and said wow it sure helps when you “Fish where the fish are”. We used to look at each other and laugh and it seemed like such a simple statement at the time but it actually is the lead into what we will speak about in this column. The simple words stated by George Kramer to “fish where the fish are” really embedded on in my mind during my professional fishing career. It all seems so simple but it’s so very very true and without question as we work our way now into the winter season there is no time that it’s more important to concentrate on fishing where the fish are then it is at this time of the year. The areas where you can consistently catch fish in the wintertime become very finite and it’s so important for you to focus your efforts in the right area if you’re going to achieve success during the winter. Winter fishing is all about patience and timing. Here in the western United States the main food source that’s consistent for our fish is threadfin shad. Western fish love to gorge themselves on large mature threadfin shad all through the fall of the season. By the time it gets to winter these fish are fat and choked with a abundance of threadfin shad. The fish are healthy and fat as they prepare to relax for the most part through the winter season. As the water cools the fishes metabolism decreases and for the most part fish do not need to feed that often during the winter months. You’re dealing with very short windows of time that the fish are actually active. With this being said you need to concentrate your efforts in areas that you believed to have a good populations of bass and keep working the area in an attempt to be there when the timing is right and the fish decide to bite. Whether you’re going to fish in a tournament or you’re going fun fishing for the weekend try to focus your efforts on two or three particular areas that you really like. Give them a good amount of time and be patient and work the area thoroughly. This is not the time of year to fish 10 or 12 different spots during the course of the day. This is when an angler focuses on two or three areas that he or she really likes and works those areas with confidence in an attempt to be in the right place at the right time. The majority of the success that is celebrated by Western anglers in the winter is being had by being focused and having the confidence and patience to stay in the area you know the fish live in. The same goes for your lure choices. Keep your lure selections down to a minimum and try to focus your efforts on proven baits that always produce each and every winter. My personal choice is to limit my winter fishing arsenal to a Hopkins Shorty 75 jigging spoon, a Rapala Ice jig, Senko, some version of the plastic worm, and a football head jig. Keep your color choices very simple. Keep your jigging spoons in some type of a threadfin shad color pattern. I like a plastic worm in the natural ox blood or nightcrawler like tones. Just something very natural don’t be flamboyant at this time of year. Keep your jig very simple and try to resemble the colors of the crayfish at this time of year. I’ve always liked something in a brown and purple color and there are many anglers that love watermelon colors during the winter also. Once again decide on a jig that you’re going to fish and don’t overthink it. The most important thing about all of these fishing techniques is to really slow down the movement on your bait and really try to minimize the amount of tip action that you use on your bait in the winter. Without question I can tell you the biggest mistake that anglers make in the winter is they move their rod tip too much because they had so much success doing that during the spring and summer of the year. When the water temperature is warm a bait that has a lots of movement in it and works erratically looks very natural to a fish. In the winter it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Remember the water is now getting cold. Everything in the water is slowing down. It just does not look natural to the fish when they see something moving in a quick erratic fashion at this time of year. It’s a dead giveaway to fish that this is not the the real thing. Anglers are so used to throwing out there plastic worm and jiggling their rod tip as they have in the summer and I see them all the time doing this during the winter of the year. This is the biggest mistake that you can make. Try to fish your bait as slowly and evenly as possible. Let me give you a small example of what I’m talking about. In the winter time of the year I much preferred to fish the split shot technique with a plastic worm. Without question the split shot technique has faraway been the most productive plastic worm technique for me in the winter. The simple reason is that by having a split shot on your line in front of the worm kills or deadens all the erotic movement that an angler imparts with there rod tip. If you insist on using the drop shot technique when you plastic worm fish don’t move your rod tip. Just drag your split shot or fishing with very very slow movements during the winter. You’ll see a marked difference in your success if you won’t move and impart too much action into your bait during this time of the year. Another great example of that is fishing with the Senko in the winter. One of my favorite ways to fish it is to throw it out a long distance on a spinning rod with 8 pound test line. I actually don’t move the bait for the first two minutes that it’s in the water. I let the bait sink all the way to the bottom and let it rest on the bottom for at least 30 to 40 seconds before I even move it. Generically this is called “dead sticking”. It’s absolutely one of the most productive Western techniques for catching bass in the winter. The problem is most anglers just don’t have the patience to throw a Senko out with absolutely no weight on it and not do anything for over two minutes. It’s just so difficult for people to comprehend. You’ll throw your Senko out and you will not have touched it for two minutes and then all of a sudden you’ll see your line moving away. The fish see the bait slowly undulating on the bottom and they just simply come up and inhaled the bait right off the bottom. Once again this is an example of not moving your bait and keeping your focus in small areas and being patient. Even when you fishing with the jigging spoon whether it be the Hopkins Shorty 75 or the Rapala Ice Jig you don’t half to move the bait so radically with your rod tip. Try moving your jigging spoon with subtle movements. Small hops. Or slow lifts with gentle falls. These all can change your results dramatically in the winter. Now remember that were speaking about largemouth bass in this column. When you’re speaking about fishing smallmouth and Kentucky spotted bass they absolutely love cold water. When you’re fishing for Kentucky spotted bass and smallmouth bass in the winter you can throw all these rules out the window. There’s lots of stuff that you can work at high-speed and have great success on smallmouth bass and Kentucky spotted bass. But when you’re fishing for northern strain largemouth bass and Florida strain largemouth bass in the west boy you better slow your bait down because it can really change the course of your day. Like my good friend George Kramer says “fish where the fish are”. Hope this helps and good fishing to all.
Below is an example with one of my clients on his bass fishing guide trip with me at Lake Casitas this winter the results that can be achieved when you focus your efforts in the small areas that fish cycle in during the winter.