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Why Small Swimbaits Score Big On Unseasonably Warm Winter Days

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January 27, 2014

Why Small Swimbaits Score Big On Unseasonably Warm Winter Days

By Dave Wolak

No matter where you live, I’m betting at some point you’ve experienced one of those unseasonably warm winter days where curiosity got the best of you and you took the bass gear out of hibernation for a few hours. Living in North Carolina, I often get a bunch of these days, and nothing gets you more pumped up than when you get on the lake and find shad flickering in the shallows and mark bass high in the water column. The anticipation is raging and all your senses are firing, but then it all comes crashing down when you can't get a bite throwing spinnerbaits and everything else you associate with bass around bait schools. That’s because although it may look like a summer scenario, it’s not summer, so you have to change your thinking.

Unseasonably warm weather creates confusion for both the bass and the angler. The bass see all the active bait rising to the surface and they know it's a good chance to feed, but at the same time they struggle to commit to a massive change from a winter holding pattern to a summer-style feeding frenzy. When shad are creating surface commotion, it's also easy for the angler to get confused into thinking every spot is a happening spot. Even if you've dialed in some activity (as in seen a few bass bust), you're going to find that the fish are less likely to react to and eat traditional summer schooling-type lures like spinnerbaits and topwaters.

Through the years I’ve found one pretty reliable method to make some of those “confused” bass chew. What I do is cast a small swimbait on a jighead with light line around the areas where I see activity. If you think the method won’t produce big bass, you’re wrong. Lighter weights (like 1/16- to 1/4-oz) on 3- to 4-inch swimbaits create a subtle action, make a quiet entry, and have little vibration underwater. Slow horizontal retrieves keep the lure in the strike zone longer, too. I've found that these small swimbaits produce best on calmer days, but clear or cloudy skies have made little difference in my success.

Comments (3)

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from Tom-Tom wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

After a partial thaw, my go-to lures are a 1/8th oz. maribu jig (white or yellow) or a Heddon Super Sonic (yellow with black). Have caught bass, crappie and larger bluegills. Right now it's 3 degrees here. Due to some serious cabin fever, I am considering following Homer Circle's rongue-in-cheek advice..."If you slowly work a white jitterbug over the ice, you might be surprised what you might catch".

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from David Wolak wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I hear you. But case in point: Yesterday was 65 and sunny here in NC with water temps jumping up 2-4 degrees. Today it's 25 with a snow storm coming?? Sometimes it's tough to schedule and get out around those good weather days. And in some parts of the country, it doesn't matter because it's covered with ice anyway. I do like the small hair jigs like you speak of as well. Thanks!

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from jw2003 wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

It has been "one" hard/cold winter in the north so far. Going to work today I noted that most of the inlets are now frozen over. But, the days are getting longer and looking at that swim bait in your hand does shine some light on the situation. My go-to bait during the very early spring is a very small spinner bait (working it as slow as possible). It will be a fine day when the "Onion Snow" is on the ground this year.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

After a partial thaw, my go-to lures are a 1/8th oz. maribu jig (white or yellow) or a Heddon Super Sonic (yellow with black). Have caught bass, crappie and larger bluegills. Right now it's 3 degrees here. Due to some serious cabin fever, I am considering following Homer Circle's rongue-in-cheek advice..."If you slowly work a white jitterbug over the ice, you might be surprised what you might catch".

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I hear you. But case in point: Yesterday was 65 and sunny here in NC with water temps jumping up 2-4 degrees. Today it's 25 with a snow storm coming?? Sometimes it's tough to schedule and get out around those good weather days. And in some parts of the country, it doesn't matter because it's covered with ice anyway. I do like the small hair jigs like you speak of as well. Thanks!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jw2003 wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

It has been "one" hard/cold winter in the north so far. Going to work today I noted that most of the inlets are now frozen over. But, the days are getting longer and looking at that swim bait in your hand does shine some light on the situation. My go-to bait during the very early spring is a very small spinner bait (working it as slow as possible). It will be a fine day when the "Onion Snow" is on the ground this year.

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