Many fisherman may find themselves wanting to bass fish even in the middle of winter. After all, the lake is free of boaters. And what else are you going to do in January?
Unfortunately, bass are really hard to catch in 40-50 degree water. They are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperatures fluctuate with their environment. So when the water is cold, they are cold. And they don’t want to chase baitfish much or eat heavily. Which makes them harder to catch.
But, you can still catch some great bass even in the dead of winter and 40-50 degree temps. You just need to follow a few tips and understand where bass will be and how to catch them.
Where to find bass in 40 - 50 degree water
Throughout winter, bass will usually be trying to find the warmest water they can. And since the temperature outside is cold, the water’s surface will be colder than what is beneath it. Heat is held in the bottom of any fishery when temps hit 40-50, or when the weather outside is colder than the water temperature.
This means that bass will be near the bottom of the water, trying to find any heat they can. So throughout winter and 40-50 degree water temps, know that bass will likely be in the deeper parts of the fishery.
But some things can change this. For example, if there is a bright sunny day and a rock wall in your fishery, you may see some bass in shallow water against the rocks. This is just because the rocks are heating up in the sunlight. The bass love heat when it’s 40-50 degrees, so they come and soak it up.
So know when you hit the lake in 40-50 degree water you need to just find the warmest parts of the lake. Wherever that may be.
Find Channel Swings in 40-50 Degree Water
Now we know that bass want to find the warmest water, which is usually found in the deepest parts of a fishery. But that doesn’t mean you can just throw to the deepest part of a lake and expect to get bites. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
Throughout the year, bass will follow the same pathways in and out of shallow water. These pathways are called creek channels. They are like the roads that bass use to move up and down a lake.
When it gets colder, bass use these creek channels to continually move down a lake towards deeper water. So the colder it gets, the deeper down the creek channels you will start finding them.
Generally, when bass stop their journey for a while on a creek channel, they find a bend or turn in the creek. These are called channel swings, and are great locations to fish for bass all through winter.
Shown below, channel swings are even better when there is accompanying cover available on them. Things like hard rock piles, brush piles, or stump fields on channel swings are the most ideal places for bass to sit throughout winter.
So if you’re looking for bass in 40-50 degree water, try finding these channel swings with cover on them. You might be surprised how many bass you can pull out if you fish with patience.
How to catch bass in 40-50 degree water
Finding bass is only part of the struggle though – you shill have to coax them into biting. And since they are cold they are not going to be as aggressive as usual.
So you need to pick the exact right presentations to have the best chance of getting a bite. Even then, patience is important with all of these techniques. They won’t get a bite every cast, and you might have to cast out a good dozen times to get them biting.
One of the best lures you can use to catch bass in 40-50 degree water is the jerkbait. It really shines when bass are cold and not aggressive enough to chase other moving baits.
But the key to using jerkbaits in colder water is to jerk it very, very slowly. Like 3 to 5 seconds between jerks. Very often, bass will be right underneath it just looking at it. And you want it to fall slowly for a few seconds right into its face so it just has to bite.
This technique works best when bass are hiding around brush piles. You can fish a jerkbait right over top of it so that you don’t get stuck, but get the attention of every bass as an easy meal goes right over their head.
Make sure you’re using jerkbaits that suspend slowly when put in the water – so it will just fall slowly right into their face.
The colors for 40-50 degree water jerkbaits aren’t very important – but try to match whatever the prey source in your lake is. Shad, blueback herring, panfish, etc.
Any bass fisherman who knows their stuff will tell you that cold water means fishing big, bulky jigs.
This is for a few reasons. One is that bass start feeding heavily on crawfish in the winter months. They aren’t often energetic enough to chase baitfish. Instead, they will sit near the bottom of the water and just pick off the unsuspecting crawdad here or there. And jigs are great crayfish imitators.
Also, jigs are easy to get to the deepest part of any fishery. So when you do need to fish in say 30 to 40 feet of water – a jig can get down to depth easily. Especially when it’s a ¾ or 1 ounce jig that bass like when it’s in 40-50 degree water temps.
So jigs should be fished all the time in winter, but especially in stump fields or rock piles. Any type of cover can be fished with a jig but these are the best areas for them.
Colors need to be dark as they provide the best contrast in deep water where they might be hard to see. So black and blue jigs are great as are any deep greens or browns.
I prefer to use Chompers Jigs.
If jigs or jerkbaits don’t work at your fishery, then I would suggest trying flutter spoons. Unlike most lures you can jig flutter spoons vertically which makes it really easy to get right on top of some bass and then jig down to them.
This means flutter spoons are one of the best lure choices if you have good electronics on your boat and can find bass on the bottom. When you find them, just hover over them and jig down to their depth and wait for a bite.
If you can’t do that, then flutter spoons are less useful. But you can still just hover over areas you think bass may be and jig as you troll across them, hoping to find hungry fish. IF you do get a bit, hang around the area as bass often school up in 40-50 degree water.
Nichols Lures makes great flutter spoons.
If you enjoyed this article consider reading these articles from our website which might help you catch bass in 40-50 degree water.
- 50 Fishing tips every beginner needs to know!
- The best month for bass fishing
- Always find the right depth to fish in
Just remember to find bass by looking in creek channels, particularly on swings or where cover is located. Then use jerkbaits, jigs, or flutter spoons to get them biting and be patient! Fishing anything in 40-50 degree water means subtle movements and you can’t fish quickly. But when you find that right area and catch a winter giant, you’ll be glad you did!