Winter Bass Fishing Tips

Winter bass fishing can be challenging for anglers across the world. As the water temps decline, bass fishing in the winter becomes difficult as bass become less active. Many factors come into play when catching bass during winter, such as time of day, bait and lure presentations, and location. Some of your techniques and how you approach fishing for bass during the winter may differ from the spring, summer, and fall seasons. These eight winter bass fishing tips will improve your fishing skills and allow you to land more bass during these frigid months. 

What Happens to Bass in The Winter

First, we should understand what happens to bass in the winter. Leading up to winter, bass will engorge on forage as much as possible to get the extra calories for what’s ahead. Once the water temps start declining, bass become lethargic as their metabolism drops. Since bass are cold-blooded, their metabolism decreases to reserve calories and help them survive the winter months. Decreased metabolism results in bass having fewer urges to feed or chase down prey. 

1. Look For The Warmest Water During Winter

A good winter bass fishing tip is using a reliable website or app to check water temperatures will inform you where the warmest water is when bass fishing in the winter. Look for locations with the warmest water temperatures if you intend to go bass fishing during the winter. Identify bass that are more active based on the temperature – a couple of degrees can make a big difference. Seek out sunny conditions, or discover the calmest waters on a lake with low wind, as the wind can lower the water temperature. Bass may move into shallow water that warms up later in the afternoon. 

Oftentimes, the warmest water has areas with bottoms that hold more heat than others. Bottoms with dark clay or mud tend to hold more heat, which may result in bass hanging out there in the winter. Look over these areas on a map to identify where bass could be and start developing a plan. 

2. Use Smaller Fishing Lures and Baits During Winter

Smaller soft-plastic lures work great when bass fishing in the winter. Other options may include grubs, Ned rigs, shaky head worms, and slow-working suspending jerkbaits. These baits don’t give off much action, and their smaller profile gives bass the idea of an easy meal. An easy meal is crucial to bass during the winter because they don’t expend much energy to eat it. Although natural colors work well, use baits and lures that mimic any baitfish in the area. Do not overlook this tip when bass fishing this winter.

3. Look For Rocks When Fishing For Bass in Winter

Fishing around rocks or rock piles is a helpful tip for winter bass fishing. This is especially true for clearer bodies of water where the sun easily penetrates and warms the rocks. Since bass are cold-blooded, they tend to look for areas that hold more heat to help warm them up. A bass will become more active as it warms up due to increased metabolism. Rocks are also habitats for crayfish and other forage, and this is why a soft-craw bait is often successful in the winter. 

4. Search Out Vertical Structure During Winter Bass Fishing

Pay attention to vertical structure when fishing for bass in the winter. Bass frequently travels vertically throughout water columns. Locating vertical structures next to deep water can result in a successful fish outing during the winter. Dock pilings, trees, and stumps are areas during the winter where bass congregate for safety and warmth. 

Ideally, look for rivers and creeks that are a little deeper with some moving water. From there, find vertical structures close to the drop-offs or where the water depth significantly changes.

5. Slow Retrieval For Winter Bass Fishing

You’re not looking for a reaction strike as much during the winter as you would in summer. Slow retrieval brings the fishing lure or baits you’re using to become for finesse. Again, bass aren’t looking to exert much energy, so that’s why this fishing tip is so helpful. Slow and steady retrievals will match the slower movement of bass during winter. Subtle presentations with slower retrieval are key to causing a bass to strike.

6. Make Gentle Cast During Winter Bass Fishing

Casting out gently to prevent spooking bass is perhaps one of the most overlooked winter fishing tips. Be mindful that bass are less likely to give reaction strikes, making loud and aggressive casts unnecessary. When you gently cast, you have an advantage to quietly sneak your lure or bait to the bass, resulting in the bass thinking it has an easy meal. This alone will help improve your winter bass fishing experience.

7. Lower Gear Ratio Reels For Winter Fishing

You will want to opt for a lower gear ratio fishing reel for cast and retrieve techniques. A lower gear ratio results in less line reeling per turn and will keep your lure in the strike zone longer. It also slows down the bait so bass don’t have to use much energy to chase it down. A good gear ratio range to stick with is 5.1:1 – 5.4:1. 

  • A 5.1:1 ratio means that the spool will rotate 5.1 times per 360-degree turn of the reel.
  • A 5.4:1 ratio means that the spool will rotate 5.4 times per 360-degree turn of the reel.

A slower gear ratio mimics lethargic baitfish that you will likely be imitating. 

8. Turn Off Electronics in Shallow Water

The pinging from a transducer is known to spook fish. Although fishing electronics can be excellent tools, they are not helpful in shallow water for finicky bass. We recommend turning them off when fishing shallow and using the tips we provided. This is a topic of debate for bass fishing no matter the season, but for winter bass fishing, we recommend keeping the fishing electronics off in 6ft or less of water. 

Don’t lose hope this winter when fishing. Try our eight winter bass fishing tips to improve your skills. Don’t be afraid to change things up and try new techniques. Remember it’s winter, and bass fishing is challenging compared to other seasons. Persistence is crucial, and once you figure it out, fishing for bass in the winter will be successful. 


  1. Gerry Anderson January 12, 2024 at 10:52 am - Reply

    This is very helpful information. I live in southern Indiana and bass fishing can be tough in the winter. I will try these tips out and use your lures also. Thanks.

  2. Damon Dean January 23, 2024 at 6:38 am - Reply

    Sounds like great points to me. I’m learning winter fishing and this is good guidance.

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