Slowing Down in Colder Water

The Hook up | Jasper Johnson

As you probably already know we bass fishermen are an impatient lot. We want to hit the water, run to our favorite spot, make that first cast and crank it in with our first fish on for the day.
Well guys, if you have been out more than once you know that doesn’t always happen. Plus, when the water temperature is below 52 degrees it doesn’t happen.
It’s extremely hard for us to slow down and pick a piece of structure totally apart, one cast after another, until we have covered every inch of it with our bait(s). Notice I said bait(s)! Yes, when the water is cold, 52 degrees or less, it often takes multiple baits thrown to that same structure to entice that bass to move and hit your bait. Like you, I always have several rods with different baits tied on laying on the front deck for this purpose. One may have a craw, one a lizard, one a worm, and another with a brush hog. Each of these will get a shot or two at the structure before I move on to the next spot. Finally, I probably hit it at least twice with a crank bait that I slowly bring through the structure. Generally, the crank is the last so that if I get it hug up I’m not worried about disturbing the fish to get it un-hung. 
Slowing down is generally the hardest thing to do for any fisherman because we are always anxious to get one in the boat as quickly as possible. Once we have that first one, our anti-skunk fish, we then are more willing to slow down a bit and thoroughly fish an area. That first fish is also a key to what the day may bring and the right baits to use so we quickly try to establish that elusive “pattern”.  Well trust me guys, one fish is not a pattern, especially in colder water, so you need to set your mind before you even hit the water that you must slow down and pick everything apart until the fish tell you what bait they want and at what speed to present it to them. Now, pick apart my last sentence! What bait they want… means you are going to have to present multiple baits to that elusive bass until the finicky suckers consistently tap on the one you are throwing. Secondly, what speed to present it, means you should also be varying your retrieve until Mrs. Bass tells you. “Oh ok I like it presented to me at that pace.”
There have been times when I have had to let the bait sit in one spot for up to a couple of minutes before I picked it up to twitch it to get the Bass to hit it. Just remember the colder the water the slower the retrieve time. Bass that are in their comfort area will watch a bait settle to the bottom and never move on it because their metabolism in cold water is so much slower and they don’t want to burn those calories they received from their last meal chasing something around that they may not catch. She will sit right there and watch it hit bottom and not move a muscle or may move to it slowly and just watch it to make sure it is something live before she sucks it in. If you just let it sit until she has moved in on it, then when you slightly twitch it she realizes its alive and will suck it in and bam you have the first one in the boat. But, if you cast it out, let it sink, pick it up and twitch it before she has had the chance to slowly move to it, it’s all over before it’s even happened.
Sometimes, when the water is cold, an old bass also likes something that is moving slowly across their area. We have all caught them when we decided heck there is nothing there and we pick it up and start to reel in for the next cast. Remember that? Well, that’s why I said you want to vary your retrieves. Quite often I throw the same bait to the same cover four to five times but every time I bring it in I change the retrieve just a bit. Again, trying to determine what the fish want. If you catch a couple on a certain retrieve then, low and behold, you have established a retrieve pattern. 
What if you caught one on a Lizard and one on a craw using the same retrieve? Well, it means you have the right retrieve but not necessarily the right bait. So, continue using the retrieve but continue changing the baits up until you can feel comfortable that the bait you are throwing is the one they really want the most.
Well, I guess the moral of this story is slow down in cold water and be patient or you may come home empty handed. Yes, I have been there and done that!
If you have any comments and or questions please send them to and I reply as quickly as I can. So, get out there, slow down, and catch a big’un!

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