Pro bass fisherman Terry Butcher of Talala, Okla., catches his biggest wintertime bass by slow-rolling a spinnerbait in water as cold as 47 degrees. The prime time for this tactic is after a sunny warm front has baked the surface water for a few days. This draws bass up from deeper water and puts them in a feeding mode. Carefully casting to fallen trees is the key.
The Tackle In most situations, Butcher slings his spinnerbaits with a 7-foot medium-heavy American Eagle baitcasting rod matched with 50-pound braided line. The exception is in crystal-clear water, where he goes with 14-pound fluorocarbon. “Braided line is so sensitive I know instantly when I bump a limb or get a strike,” he says. “The bites can be light when the water’s cold.”
The Lure A 3/4-ounce chartreuse-and-white Booyah spinnerbait is Butcher’s winter workhorse. He favors a small, nickel Colorado blade ahead of a gold No. 7 willowleaf blade. The big willowleaf lets him crawl the spinnerbait at the slow speeds that appeal to sluggish bass hanging 5 to 12 feet deep.
The Technique “I catch most of the big ones by slow-rolling the spinnerbait across the limbs at a 45-degree angle,” Butcher says. “I let the bait sink to the depth I want to fish before I start retrieving. If the bass are less than 5 feet deep, I switch to a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait.”
The Location Butcher’s spinnerbait plucks winter bass from main-lake windfalls on steep, rocky banks. Here, the bass can quickly move shallow or deep in response to the weather. When they swim up after a warm front, they typically suspend in the outer limbs of the fallen trees. They’ll readily nab a spinnerbait swimming above them.