Catching Cold-Weather Bass

On big lakes, rock rubble, or large boulders, are a great beginning spot to search for hungry largemouths, especially in cold weather. Early last March I traveled to Lake of the Ozarks with Cowtown Pro Staffer John Hewkin. What I witnessed proved nothing less than phenomenal.

John Hewkins with Big Bass

“Bass anglers have known for decades that they can catch big fish during the cold winter months,” Hewkin said. “Braving the elements can be tough and it keeps a lot of fishermen off the water.”

Hewkin tossed a variety of stick-baits to rocky banks and picked up a few respectable largemouth bass. Soon he headed his Ranger boat across the lake to a primary lake point which caught sunshine and a bit of wind.

“Large boulders like this warm up quickly and transfer that heat to the water,” he said. “ A couple of degrees difference in water temperature can be the determining factor in catching fish or not catching fish.”

Hewkin tied on a big yellow and chartreuse spinnerbait. “I use a spinnerbait to prospect and cover a lot of water,” he pointed out.

“I have been doing this for years,” Hewkin commented. “It is still pretty cold and a lot of people don’t like to fish in these conditions. However, I discovered a long time ago that I could catch big bass around these big rocks in late February and early March. The rocks in shallow water absorb the heat. If it stays sunny for several days, the fishing really gets good. The heat stays in the rocks for several days, even if it does cloud up. Warming rocks equals hot fishing.”

Minutes later Hewkin’s rod arched heavily. The big sow bass seemed a bit lethargic. She obviously didn’t move far to inhale the slowly retrieved spinnerbait.

“She’s a good one,” Hewkin stated calmly.

When the bass rolled up by the boat, Hewkin rephrased. “That thing is huge!”

He calmly lipped the lunker and swung the heavy bass into the Ranger. “You don’t catch them like that every day,” he said with a wide grin on his face.

“This may be the start of a feeding pattern,” Hewkin explained. “The sun is warming things up a bit and with the wind blowing into this bank, bait fish are being pushed into it. That makes for a perfect cold weather situation.”

Minutes later Hewkin felt another solid strike. “Yep, bass are most likely stacked on this rocky bank,” he said.

His trolling motor slowly moved the Ranger down the bank. Hewkin pounded the bank with the big spinnerbait, hitting every likely looking piece of rocky cover. He picked up fish steadily, catching several more in the 3-to-4-pound range.

“This is the kind of cold weather day every fisherman dreams about,” Hewkin said.

The bite soon slowed to a halt. “The bite only lasted a couple of hours,” Hewkin noted. “But, you know what? You can’t catch ‘em if you’re not out there.”

The wind whipped up heavy waves. “Let’s call it,” Hewkin said.

The ride back to the boat ramp proved smooth as the big Ranger sliced through the waves.

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