Fishing Tip of the Week – 01/29/20
Cold water strike zones
by Mike Gerry
Fishing Tip of the Week
- Friday, 31 January 2020 16:42
In the winter as the water temperature changes, so does the length of the strike zone. A quick way to remember this is the colder the water temperature the shorter the strike zone.
We, as anglers, especially in the winter, have a tendency to cover water quickly. This is a good thing, but you must make a decision on when it’s time to fish an area thoroughly. Understanding the water temperature can be key.
As an example, let’s take the water temperature and set some distances for the strike zone based on temperature. My best guess is that between 40 and 50 degrees the strike zone for a bass narrows down to, basically, the length of the fish or 12 to 17 inches. Once the water temperature reaches the 60’s their strike zone increases by just about doubling the length of the fish. As you approach the 70’s, now the strike zone triples the length of the fish, and you start seeing more activity from bass. At this temperature they chase more, they feed from longer distances, and they roam more. Hence, you see more activity from them while you’re fishing the increased water temperature. The temperature of the water in the 70’s is their preferred active temperature, and on the cloudy days, in the winter, with 70-degree temps, they become really active.
Another consideration while fishing colder water temperatures is when to slow down or speed up as you’re covering water. There are a few keys to this type of decision, but it’s not always black and white. Some key points would be, observing moving bait fish around the area you’re covering, or grass stems and bright sun on a cold winter midday, where the oxygen level is high. It also can be just a sense that this area is fishy; when this happens it’s time to slow down and cover this area inch by inch. Understand that the strike may be short and force you to be thorough, cutting the area at different angles until you prove there is active fish there. Also, many times, you must consider bait selection. Is your bait being seen, is it big or small enough to attract a bite, can it be worked slowly enough so the bass will react to it?