Cold water conditions pose a challenge for fishing, especially for bass anglers who often question the feasibility of fishing during the colder months. As water temperature decreases, bass exhibit reduced activity and become increasingly discerning in their feeding preferences, making our role as anglers more challenging. Nevertheless, by carefully choosing our lures and adjusting our fishing techniques, we can entice bass to bite even in the frigid winter months. This article highlights top lure choices for targeting bass as soon as the water temperature hits that daunting 50-degree mark.
50 degree water generally marks the months of winter where water temperatures are close to the lowest we see all year. With this low temperature comes the change in the way bass behave as well as where they situate themselves. Let’s cover some of the key features of their behavior in 50 degree weather.
Slow and Steady
In 50 degree water, bass tend to conserve their energy by less active and more lethargic. They are more likely to stay in deeper water where the temperature is more stable. There is however a misconception that bass do not eat during the cold months, but this is not true. Bass will still eat, but they will no doubt feed less actively, and we need to take this into account when presenting our baits.
Lure selection is paramount in the colder months of the year. Bass are less likely to chase after fast-moving, impeding presentations, so anglers should focus on using lures that can be fished slowly at a wide range of depths. We’ll dive into the specifics of this shortly.
Bass in 50 degree water are more likely to be found in deeper water, so anglers should look to focus more on covering deeper channels, rather than shore-based cover like we normally do in the warmer months of the year.
Time of Day
The time of day can also affect bass behavior in colder water. Bass tend to be more active during the warmest part of the day, so anglers should focus their fishing efforts during this time.
Top Bass Lures for 50 Degree Water
Cold water requires a mix-up in the baits we throw, as well as the way we fish them. The below lures mentioned can be fished in numerous ways and they can also cover several depths. Here are the top bass lures for 50 degree water:
Deep Diving Crankbaits
With bass moving deeper in colder water, crankbaits immediately become suitable baits to throw. Deep diving crankbaits specifically can cover up the 30 feet in depth, meaning they can reach those winter strike zones. Remember, the bigger the lip, the deeper the diver.
Crankbaits can also imitate dying or injured baitfish, representing an easy meal for a bass that isn’t necessarily focusing on feeding at the time. This is a key action in the winter months, as your best chance to is try and present an easy meal for a lethargic, non-feeding bass.
When it comes to fishing a crankbait in 50 degree water, you’ll want to give a slower retrieve than normal. A super slow roll will greatly increase your chances of getting bit.
Jerkbaits are the best imitator of an injured or dying baitfish, presenting an easy meal for lethargic bass. A suspending jerkbait will slowly sink when left alone, which will even seem as an easier meal for winter bass. For this reason, a suspending jerkbait may be your best jerkbait option in the cold months.
When fishing a jerkbait, the more erratic the action, the better. For 50 degree water this remains important, however, you’re going to want to add a longer pause in between each ‘jerk’. This will entice bass a bit more as it will seem as an easier meal.
Football jigs are more suitable for deeper water channels thanks to their bulkier and broader head. This head shape is also designed to keep the bait on the bottom effectively. In terms of fishing the football jig in the colder months, you’ll want to ‘drag’ it slowly along the bottom. This again will present an easy meal for nearby bass.
The slow, bulky profile of a large soft plastic will seem like a tantalizing meal for a slow-moving bass in the winter. The plastic can be rigged in several ways, however, for colder water, a Carolina rig will be one of the best options. This is because the Carolina rig presents the soft plastic in an incredibly natural manner, isolating the bait as the weight sits further up the line.
The Carolina rig also excels in deeper water scenarios, which is exactly where bass will hold in the colder months. A slow drag along the bottom will get the best results for this technique in 50 degree water.
Tips for Fishing in 50 Degree Water
Knowing how bass behave in colder water, here are some tips to help increase your chances of getting bites in 50 degree water:
Slow down your retrieve: As mentioned earlier, bass will move a lot slower in colder water in an effort to preserve energy. For this reason, you’re going to greatly increase your chances of getting a bite by slowing down your presentation, no matter what lure you’re throwing.
Move away from the usual high-percentage areas: In the prime season we tend to dial in on vegetation and other shallow cover, especially for largemouth bass. When winter strikes, we need to move deeper purely because bass do the same.
Base color choice on water clarity: Like any season, lure color selection should be based largely off water clarity. These rules don’t change even in cold water conditions. For clear water, stick to your natural color patterns, for stained water, include a shock color such as chartreuse or a darker color to ensure your lure is more visible.
Greater patience is needed: We need to accept that fishing during these cold months will see a lot less bites and ultimately less fish. A greater degree of patience is needed and this patience can be rewarded with trophy fish as the winter months often produce.
Targeting and catching bass in 50 degree water is always going to be a challenging task and we need to adjust our lure selection as well as how we fish these lures accordingly. Staying patient is key when we see water temperatures in this region and we guaranteed to see fewer bites. The above-mentioned baits are great starting points for working bass out in 50 degree water temperatures.
Have the latest bass fishing insights and tackle reviews delivered straight to your inbox.