by Mike Gerry
History has proven that winter is the best of the hard target fishing. This is because the cold water drives the fish out looking for different structure, hence, the bass move to “hard” targets like rock, bridges, or wood in the coldest part of winter. Those days when you are out on the water and it seems like you just can’t get a bite, and it’s the middle of December, head to the hard targets and you will find the fish! I promise you; it will put you in the middle of the bigger fish and the concentration of them. This has worked for me for years and I still make it work today!
In order to verify my belief in the winter, I utilize my Lowrance Structure scanning to its fullest and dissect areas of cover, working precisely, and moving slowly, as I observe the bottom while looking for keys that tell me fish are located in the area I am scanning. I head immediately to the depth change areas and start scanning for fish around different types of solid bottom structure. I looking for the rock or stumpy bottom areas to find fish. Conditions like high water, wind, and typical wintertime conditions drive fish to these areas to escape the changing conditions. They suspend for safety around cover and feed as needed in the cold water.
After I find structure that appears to be holding fish the best piece of advice I can tell you, as you are dissecting the water for bites, is to use several different baits and fish several depths around the hard cover until you find what they want. It might be a slow-moving bait like a jig, or it might be crank bait or shaky heads or even a big worm. Work close to the cover, then back off from it until a depth and pattern appears and you start catching fish. The thing you can bet on is the bass are there and your job is to get them to bite and find something they will react to.
Hard targets come in a lot of forms, it can be shell bottom, or gravel. You may be fishing some red clay areas of the lake that create hard bottom areas; explore them all and eventually you will score and have some great winter fun!