When winter comes, most people will break out their jackets and thermal clothing, and brush off the ice fishing gear. Ice fishing is one of my most favorite fishing times of year, and can be a lot of fun. Ice fishing is really popular for fish like Pike and Trout, but what if you are a diehard Bass angler, can you fish for bass on a frozen lake? When you are bass fishing on a non-frozen lake, you know that you normally have to cast your rod out and bring the bait back to find the bass, so a lot of people will automatically think that you cannot even fish for bass in the winter. It is important to understand what happens to a bass when the water gets colder, and what they will do when temperatures hit record lows. We are going to take a look and see if bass fishing is even something we can do, so let’s dig in and take a look.
Can you ice fish for bass? Yes, absolutely you can ice fish for bass and catch them! Bass, like every other fish, do not hibernate in the winter, so they are still actively swimming around and hunting for food, so there is a high success rate in ice fishing bass. One thing you really want to keep in mind is that bass do slow down in the winter, and their metabolism also slows, so they are not a super active hunter in ice cold water. You also do not always have to cast long distances for bass, so do let a small hole in the ice deter you from baiting up with a worm and hunting large or small mouth bass under the ice. This is some great news for us anglers that like me, had no idea what bass did in the winter and thought ice fishing was mostly for trout.
Your best bet for bait is going to be things like worms or other insects that they might see under the ice. The one thing I have seen is that even though bass will usually bite anything that catches their eye as they swim by it, they seem to prefer smaller jigs and worms in the winter months, so it is a good idea to have some smaller worms and jigs in your bag. I see a lot more bass (especially the lunkers) go after the longer 10 to 12 inch worms in the summer, so don’t think that is all they eat. The less effort they have to exert to eat, the better it is on them because they will have to eat less. Smaller will most likely be better in the winter months, so think about scaling your bait size to include a wider variety of bait.
Hunt For The Bite
Since you cannot cast long distances when ice fishing, it is important to know how to hunt down the bite for bass, and what techniques actually might work. A great technique to use when ice fishing for bass is to drop your bait down and let it sink to the bottom. After a few seconds, pop the bait up about 10 to 12 inches, and let it sink back down. This technique is called the Lift Drop method, and usually works on bass that are hungry, the only problem with this is that the bass may take it in one drop, or it could be 30 drops before they take the bait. If the bass does not seem interested, or seem a little skittish, you can let it sit for a minute or two, and twitch your rod. After a couple of twitches, let it sit on the bottom for a few seconds, and then twitch it again. If those techniques are not working for worms and jigs, it may be time to switch to live baits like worms and maggots, or even minnows if you have some. Fish can be picky, especially when it is cold, so you might have to try different tactics. The one thing you will always need to have is patience, because they could watch your bait for 30 minutes before ever even thinking about biting it, so do not give up too soon.
How Deep Are They
When thinking about Large and Small Mouth Bass, it really is not a certain depth that they are after, but more of what type of bottom they are after. Bass Like to hide, so they usually prefer soft-bottomed, weedy areas and really don’t go much deeper than 30 feet in the winter time. Bass also tend to stay relatively close, and do not travel long distances in lakes, it is more of an up and down migration. In the summertime, their metabolism is a lot higher, and they need to eat more, so they will stay around the 8 foot deep mark, and then during the winter, they will migrate back down to deeper water, and just kind of cruise there. Bass are a predator fish, so they are going to be tucked away in the weeds, rocks, and other structures, so it is important to get your bait down to the bottom where they are going to be. You should be fine with your normal fishing spot, even for bass, and if you are not having any luck at all, you might want to move a little bit more shallow water.
Why Are Trout More Popular To Ice Fish For
Trout are a cold water fish, and they like to be in deeper parts of a lake or river in general. As the summer months hit, they go very deep to avoid the warm water, unlike Bass, Crappie, and other fish that are usually in shallower water. Because they are a cold water fish, they tend to be more active in the winter months, especially for ice fishing because they are going to be more likely to hit your bait. When fishing for trout, you do not have to wait like you would need to for bass, and you will not have to entice them as much. Trout will feed whenever they can, so they have been the most popular species for fishing among a few others. One thing to keep in mind is that trout, even though they love cold water, will also have their metabolism start to slow as the water gets colder than 40 degrees, so they will need to eat less. Do not mistake this for them not being less active, they are actually just less hungry and need to eat less, so there may be days where you do not get a bite at all.
What Do Bass Eat In The Winter
What do bass eat in the winter? Bass like to eat things like Insects, or aquatic worms and mayfly nymphs. They will also look for schools of relatively small minnows and sometimes larger fish in the winter, but the time it takes to digest larger items increases for bass in cold water. Since their metabolism slows down in the winter, bass will tend to go after slower moving easy targets, rather than expending a lot of energy looking for food. Bait usually has to be right in front of their face to strike it, and they will stay in one spot for as long as possible. As soon as the water temperature has risen above 40 degrees, they will become more active and be more apt to chase a moving bait or target.