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Wintertime Jig Fishing
By Denny  Brauer

Believe it or not, winter provides some of the better months for jig fishing. The reason is that the water temperature is cold, the bass don't normally bite well, and they aren't aggressive. So slower, more precise presentations are usually the best ways to catch them.

Jigging spoons or the jig-and-pig (pork frog) are probably the two most popular methods. If you want to get into the finesse end of things, fishing a small grub can also be good. But my favorite, naturally, is the jig-and-pork.

Vertical Fishing
On most bodies of water in winter we're looking at a vertical situation as far as cover types go. To explain: Bass usually move deeper during the winter months. On some lakes that may mean they pull into creek channels for the winter.

On other lakes, where everything is pretty well shoreline-related, they might move to steeper banks, 45-degree banks or bluffs, which are the areas where they're probably going to spend the winter.

One thing you can just about bet on is that wintertime bass are going to be close to deep water. I'm not saying you can't catch them shallow because if you get a few nice days during the winter some of the fish will move up. They may also get on shallow targets next to deep water.

Keep deep water and a slow retrieve in mind, and you'll be a little better off during the winter months.

Fish on the Bottom
When I'm fishing during the wintertime, I usually relate to the bottom. That's where I'm trying to find the bass -- I'm not looking for suspended winter fish. I'm looking primarily for fish that are relating to some type of structure, whether it is a brushpile or a treetop that has been put on the bottom. For some reason, rock cover is very attractive to bass in the colder water situations. Some of my best winter fishing has been on steep rocky banks.






  Remember that "deep" is relative to the part of the country you're fishing. Five feet may be deep on some Florida lakes while in the Midwest you could be looking at a 25- to 30-foot zone for winter fish.

The weight of the jig you fish should change with depth. If I'm looking at the 5-foot zone, a heavy jig could be 3/8-ounce. If I'm looking at 25 feet, I'm probably going to be looking at a 1/2-ounce bait.

Fish Slowly
I want to get that bait down to the fish. I want to maintain contact with the bottom. Try to crawl the bait along the bottom in short spurts, basically dragging it. You don't want to sweep it off the bottom like you would during the summer.

To repeat: winter jig fishing means a slow, tedious retrieve with pauses between movements of the bait. Often that's what it takes to get some of the sluggish wintertime bass to bite.

Keep in mind that the bass are well-grouped this time of year. It can be a long time between bites, but when you get a fish to hit, there are probably a bunch of them down there. So stick with it.

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