Now’s the time to hunt winter giants


Now’s the time to hunt winter giants

I know it’s cold out and the conditions aren’t exactly what we want them to be for fishing, but now’s the time to get your biggest fish of the ye

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I know it’s cold out and the conditions aren’t exactly what we want them to be for fishing, but now’s the time to get your biggest fish of the year and maybe even a lifetime.

It’s time to hunt big ‘uns — maybe even true giants.

We all love to go fishing when it’s short-sleeve weather, it’s warm and the sun is out. But when you have to put on raingear to stay comfortable is when you have the best chance of really doing some damage on big females.

I know you are all checking the weather, and you’re seeing cold fronts moving through. While that has an effect, the fact that the days are getting longer means it’s moving towards the spawn, and the fish know it.

Just take a look at social media and you’ll start to see truly big fish posted by anglers. If you look a little closer, they are in their raingear and hoodies which means that they were all caught recently.  In other words, sitting on the couch ain’t gonna cut it.

You have to remember that bass are cold-blooded creatures, and their body temperature is dictated by their environment. A temperature change of two to three degrees in an afternoon can be a big deal.

Here’s what you want to follow. When you’re seeing a weather trend that’s two or three days of warm sunny weather strung together, those big girls are going to get up in the shallows around cover and soak up that sun. That makes them vulnerable from now until mid-March for most of the country. If you fish in the North, it may be a little later in the year, but the trends are the same.

What kind of cover the fish will get around depends on the lake you’re fishing. If it’s a grass lake then the fish will be around hard spots in the grass. In other lakes you’ll find them around rock and wood because those hold heat better than other structure types.

Here are my favorite techniques for this time of year. In grass I love to throw a big spinnerbait or lipless crankbaits and tick the top of the grass with them. I mentioned hard spots in the grass; I really love throwing jigs around those. I know a lot of people like a big jig, but this time of the year I tend to cast a 3/8- or 5/16-ounce jig so that it falls slow and really crawls. I let it soak a lot when it’s cold.

I really love a big single #6 or #7 Colorado blade on a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper on it as a trailer. I pump it like a jig, and the big girls slam that thing as it falls.

One of the best techniques is a swimbait. I really love big glide baits this time of the year because they can be deadly. My favorite is the Taddo Designs Eon Glide. You can’t fish it wrong, and it really gets some big bites.

It’s inevitable that you’re going to hear of some monster coming out of Guntersville or some behemoth out of Chickamauga or some other big bass haunt any time now. It may be on one of the techniques I covered or something else, but they will get caught. I’ve seen a 13-pounder weighed in at a Guntersville tournament this time of year on a spinnerbait. And my personal best was a 10-14 I caught while practicing at Sam Rayburn for a B.A.S.S. Invitational in March in the mid 1990s. I caught that fish on a #7 Crawfish colored Shad Rap, and I’ll never forget it.

We all love to catch fish, but in my personal experience we all love catching big bass more. In all the days I’ve spent fishing with people, nothing brings a smile like catching a truly big bass, and it’s a great time to go get one right now.

It’s like hunting that big buck that you’ve had your sights on, you’re not gonna draw that arrow on just any deer, it’s gotta be the right one. Set your mind to get one or two bites and go after it.

On another note, the season is here in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be checking in more as the 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series season progresses. Great fishing, everybody.

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