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Winter Bass
Stifle the Action for Ice Colds

By Russ Bassdozer

Click here to visit our fishing art galleryYou may need to fish different locations to find the winter spots for the early winter time of year in the waters you frequent. I cannot help you there, but I can teach you how to tune up your tools and tactics (i.e., your jig and how you use it) for cold weather. That's right - those same jigs you were scoring with all year will work all winter long as well...that plus a few models of soft plastics. In addition to jigs, you should try soft plastics such as straight-tailed worms and tube baits.

The more Yankees around, the more consistently will the tips in this article apply, but the tips here can also be adapted for milder winter climates down South and out West.

Colors. I have fished many bass in many places for many years...and use of chartreuse soft plastics become a universal tool from about late fall through early spring. Plus BLACK or BLACK W/CHARTREUSE TAIL TIP. Black catches bass everywhere all the time. So that's about color in cold water - just for starters - after that you are on your own with color selections.

Action. I also discovered many years ago that fish at the extreme cold edges of their feeding range refused to take squiggly or vibrating baits such as curly tails or plastic-lipped crankbaits for example. Quite the contrary, these cold fish seemed to only hit perfectly straight-bodied, small, compact baits that had absolutely no built-in movement and that did nothing in the water, except suspend and not move. That's why I said to toss a few straight worms and tubes into your jig bag too. Fish these soft plastics on jig heads - they will act more sedentary on jig heads rather than if you rig them Texas, Carolina or splitshot.

Getting back to the jig 'n pig. I like to use a double tail twister grub as the trailer instead of pork or plastic frog chunks. In cold water I have noticed the active movement of the twister legs on a lure such as a twintail twister grub may discourage some lethargic bass from attempting to pursue the lure. It gives the illusion that the bait is too agile and discourages the bass from pursuing it. In these cases, trim back the curved sickle-shaped tips of the lure legs to produce only a very subtle flapping action. Better to trim little by little instead of too much. In a certain sense, you are converting the twister tail to behave more like a plastic chunk. Now let's hold that thought for a moment...let's jump into an age-old "rule" of jig 'n pig trailers as follows...

The age-old rule of jig n' pig trailers is to use pork chunks in cold water and use plastic chunks in hot water. Have you ever heard this? I am sure you must recall it! Why does this rule exist? Well, people claim that plastic stiffens up and acts as lively as, well, plastic in cold water whereas pork remains supple. Personally, I am not too sure what they are talking about nor do I care! Because when I trim down the doubletail twister trailer, I can get any gradient of action I want from "double twisty" (uncut) to perfectly flat/straight (fully-trimmed). However, the best cold water action is somewhere in between - and only gotten by careful trimming that will still leave some stifled flappin' action. If you look at the tails and try to envision different ways to trim their action, you will quickly realize that there are an infinite number of angles - the way you trim is only limited by your imagination!

The double tail twister grub is a great tool in that respect - it's like having a few different action trailers in one! Okay, not giving you a commercial here, but heck, when I open my bag to put trailers on - all's I see in there are Gary Yamamoto double tail grubs in 4", 5", 6" sizes. If I knew of something better, those Yamas would be out of my bass bag and into my trash bag. But I don't know of anything better!

I trim not only the curved tails in cold water, but I also have flexibility to pinch the body shorter too. What I mean is, I can use the 4" BODY unpinched to get a thin 4" trailer - or I can pinch the tip off the 5" BODY to get a wider 4" trailer - or pinch even more off the 6" to get a bulky 4" "pig". THEN I trim down the twister TAILS to get more or less action out of them, okay?

Muting down the action is true of other lures as well when it comes to iced-down bass, You want lures that really have no visible "agility" during extreme cold. Bass won't even bother if the lure looks too agile. Mostly they want deadsticked stuff with no fast-moving parts on 'em at all. Not only fast-moving parts, but I have an uneasy feeling they may not want to see too many parts - moving or not. For example, if you think of another trailer type such as a plastic craw trailer. Does it have antennae, big claws, any little craw legs sticking off it? If so, that's too many parts for me in winter.

What's not got a lot of parts? If you merely suspend or slowly glide a lightly-weighted tube jig in front of icy cold fish, then that motionless tube will probably take many more frozen bass as opposed to something active such as a single tail twister grub that's moving fast enough to make that tail paddle back and forth. The tube's tail will have just enough action - the slightest bit - just like the trimmed down double tail trailer gets to a little flappy point where it is just right also.

Now go out there and get some ice colds, bud!

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