Winter Pond Bass Fishing

So far in the Southeast this winter is stacking up to be a dozy. Atlanta has already had 8 inches of panic dropped on her and it’s not even New Years. Many pond owners take this same icy attitude toward their ponds this time of year. However winter pond fishing can be phenomenal if you have a solid game plan. The point of this article is to serve as a general approach to enjoying your pond in the cold months.

The first aspect of bass fishing in winter is all about timing. The days are shorter and colder. Bass know this and adjust their movements accordingly. There is no need to get up at the crack of dawn like we have to do in the summer months. The best times to fish are between 10am to 3pm. These will be the warmest parts of the day making sluggish bass a little less sluggish. An often overlooked time to fish in the winter is during rain or fronts. In Georgia it’s common for the weather to be 10 degrees warmer before and during a front. Pond temps in the high 40s will revieve runoff in the 60s.  The warm runoff draws bass in like magnets. Fishing areas where runoff enters the pond will be key.

Basic Tackle

Tackle this time of year doesn’t have to be super fancy. A 6’6” to 7′ medium heavy bait casting set up will be good for jigs and heavier soft plastic rigs. A 7′ medium spinning rod will handle smaller soft plastics and drop shotting well.

I love jigs!

On to baits and lures! I’m a minimalist at heart and don’t want to lug around four tackle boxes. I carry a small backpack with the essential baits and terminal tackle. Bass will hug the bottom this time of year. Some will suspend as well. Jigs are my favorite lure because you can do many things with them. Bouncing them slowly off the bottom mimicking crayfish is my go to technique. However during those rainy events with warm runoff swimming a jig is a good technique to try. Swimming a jig simply means slowly reeling in the jig similar to a spinner bait. Below are several jig and trailer combinations that are proven.

Brown colored jigs excel in clear water situations
Black and blue is the classic jig color. Does great in dirty or clear water.

The next category of baits that do good in cold water are soft plastics. There are so many options on the soft plastic market today. Similar to jigs I like to keep stuff simple. With the water being cold I don’t fish plastics with lots of movement. I prefer smaller plastics that move very little so no curly tail worms or crazy twin tail trailers.

If you don’t like jigs, soft plastic craws are a great alternative.
Worms should always be near the top. Notice all these have little to no movement. The colors are very translucent because often times the water in winter is very clear. Black should be saved for muddy water. Texas rig these to bounce off the bottom.
More crayfish imitations. The Sweet Beaver is a simple yet effective bait to have in your arsenal. Texas rig these to bounce off the bottom.
Senko is an all time favorite. Like shad colors such as pictured. However blacks and watermelons are also solid choices. Many people over fish these. Simply cast out and let slowly sink. Then lift your rod up slightly. The natural wobble these have do all the work for you.
Some ponds have threadfin shad in them. Threadfin are delicate and sensitive to extreme cold. They will die off if it gets to cold which is unfortunate due to their price. The one upside is bass key in on the dying shad and will gorge themselves. Flukes are great mimics. No weight required. A white trickworm can be useful to show them something they haven’t seen.
Basic rigging for all soft plastics. This keeps hook weedless since point is buried into the soft plastic.

Hooks and weights are simple. A 1/0 to 3/0 hook is all you will need. A small built weight that weighs around 3/16oz is plenty for Texas rigging . So now you know what to fish and when to fish. The last piece of the puzzle is where to fish.

Yes it’s basic.

Most ponds are one to three acres so that means you can cover them very quickly and easily. The red “x’s” are winter time hot spots. Lets start at the dam. The corners of a dam are great fish holding locations because there is a change in bottom contour which allows bass to pin forage.  The standpipe is a structure suspending bass will hold to. Most ponds have a few fallen trees. Fish the trees in deep water and pass on the shallow trees. The row of “x’s” is located on the western side of the lake. The western side will receive the most afternoon sun thus warming quickly. Lastly the inflow pipe will be worth fishing after a warm rain. The warm water draws fish in and also food from the watershed gets funneled into a small area.

Follow these simple tips to put more winter time bass on the end of your line!