by Mike Gerry
Winter line watching
There is no better time to develop line watching skills than in the winter. Bites are generally light, the bass are slow reacting and generally feed very slowly during the winter. They don’t attack – they slowly inhale. Developing good line watching skills is a must during this time of year. Coupled with that, rigging correctly so you can feel the bite better is a good practice to enhance your line watching skills.
Many anglers feel that using a spinning rod in the winter enhances your ability to feel the bite, and if you’re a finesse fisherman there is a very good argument for that. Spinning gear allows you to leave good slack in the line to watch and feel for twitches, or movement, in your slack line. Many times, bass pick up finesse baits and come to you, giving you a sense that you have lost contact or the feel that there is nothing on the line. This is a good indication that a fish has picked up your bait and started moving toward you. Spinning gear allows you to easily reel up some line and feel the finesse bait easier during the winter months. It is also very important to have a small-size line diameter like eight lb. test, giving your bait more action in the cold water than a heavy, weighted line. This allows you to get more slack quickly, as your bait works down the water column while finesse fishing. I also like to make sure I am rigged with fluorocarbon line, where there is little to no stretch in a clear color, so the line can’t easily be seen by the fish. It’s also true that fluorocarbon is much more sensitive than normal monofilament line.
Boat position is also important in the winter. If you position your boat so you work at an angle, off the deep, to the shallow, it allows you to force the bass to bite and come across your boat instead of directly back to you. This boat position changes the instinct of a bass, which is to feed near the top of a hump and work deep. If the bite is moving to your right or left it is much easier to detect. Watch the line and get a good sense of your bite, and you will miss less fish.