Now that we are squarely in the shadow of an all-too-rapidly approaching winter I’ve been reorganizing my “go-to” baits for colder conditions. After all, it doesn’t make sense to keep clinging to my larger or faster baits when we know the fish are much less active. That’s not to say I won’t throw a 6” worm if nothing else is working, but as a general rule, my tackle is smaller for this time of year.
Even though I have a tackle box full of crankbaits I seem to gravitate to soft plastics more often than not. Winter months are no exception. I use 2” to 3” paddle tails, 3.5” to 3.75” craws, tubes, and smaller jigs.
There are three baits I’ve got my eye on and getting ready to place orders for. The first two are from Winco’s Custom Lures and if you’ve ever been on YakAngler.com you’ve seen them in action with the smallies Juan Veruete of Central Pennsylvania Fishing keeps us all longing for.
The last one that I have my heart set on at the moment is a small jig I found new for 2012 at LandBigFish.com and it’s called the Cold Steel Shakey Head. It has a flat, stand-up head and is made with an Ultra Sharp Mustad oversized 5/0 hook for straight bait rigging. It sports a finesse-style skirt tied to screw-lock bait keeper holder that won’t slip down on the hook when skipping under docks. They’re sold 2 per pack.
Truthfully, all the downsized gear in the world doesn’t help too much if you don’t learn to SLOW D O W N. For example, even in warmer temps there are days I’ve had more luck with the ol’ faithful Carolina Rig when I cast it, let it sink, and leave it lying there. I’ll sometimes wait a two or three minutes then give it a little shake. As painful as that technique may sound to our adrenaline junky alter-egos, believe me when I say that about the time you think you’re moving it slow enough, you’ll probably need to slow it down more. Especially with water temps in the mid-50’s or lower.
The ironic part about fishing in winter is that on the days that are nice to fish, such as a clear day when the sun is shining bright, it’s usually not the ideal day to actually be catching fish. Since most of the time when we have clear days the air is somewhat colder, it only stands to reason that on grey days when the clouds are hanging low, air temperatures are a little more favorable for our ultimate goal of catching and not just fishing.