While I haven’t ever ice fished I do fish in the cold weather all the time. I always fish until the ice covers the whole lake, and even then I just head to river where I can almost always find a nice little hole to fish in the middle of winter. Fish may not be as active in the winter, but they are still biting…you just need to adjust how you are fishing. You also need to be prepared for the cold, windy conditions you will face.
When fishing in the winter the first and most important step is to protect yourself from the elements. I always layer up with plenty of clothes you can always take some off, but you can’t put on what you don’t have with you. After preparing yourself for conditions you will face it is time to adjust how you’re fishing.
In the spring and summer many people fish fast. I have found in the winter time that finesse is the key to success when fishing with artificial baits. When I am fishing for Bass in the winter time one of my favorite baits is the micro spinner bait. I usually use bright colors, worked very slowly, or a football jig bounced across the bottom with a trailer. I normally fish all my baits in the winter time slowly, but you have to let the fish tell you what they want, always throw some twitches of the rod tip in… you never know when it will cause reaction strike!
My other go to bait for Bass in the winter time is lipless crank bait worked just fast enough to keep it off the bottom. One of the key things to remember when Bass fishing in the winter is that the fish are not as active so the reward has to be worth the energy they are going to expend to get it! In other words they are not going to typically chase a bait that is being ripped through the water at a blazing fast pace. Once you catch a few remember how you were working the bait and you will be all set!
When it comes to Crappie fishing in the winter I like to set up a slip bobber with a bobber stop, and a twister tail just like I fish in the summertime. But instead of fishing it in one spot I like to slowly troll it behind my kayak. It has proved to be a very successful strategy when the Crappie are starting to suspend in deeper water during the winter.
As for Catfish in the winter time I don’t really change much, except for wearing more clothes, and taking some hand warmers with me. I still prefer to use fresh shad that I catch with my cast net, and throw it out on the bottom set up on a Carolina rig, which is just a slip sinker with a bead, and a hook. The Catfish seem to be one of the more active fish during the winter we almost always do well when we decide to go out and brave the cold to do some Catfishing!
All in all remember winter time fishing is not for everyone, in fact many people tell me I am crazy for fishing in the winter. However with the proper preparation and the right mind set you can still have a lot of fun and catch fish, just remember that fishing in the winter time is not like fishing in the summer slowdown. Take your time, and you will find out that tight lines are possible in the dead of winter. As always best of luck, and make fishing a family affair!