We had a spurt of warm weather that nearly reached the 80-degree mark the last weekend of October. So I stepped out of small water trout mode for a late bass run. Taking advantage of the infrequent warm trends keeps me in touch with a few of my warm water pals. Late bassin’ isn’t easy, in fact it can be some of the most difficult fishing that I undertake considering these fish are much less active in the colder temps.
The water temperatures are dropping quickly. This not only slows down bucketmouth bass in Colorado but also inflicts some havoc on the forage base. Shad are prone to die off when water reaches below 45 degrees and only a slight percentage of sunfish spawn make it this far. Towards November I will often start with baitfish patterns but rely more and more on slow moving creature baits such as jigs, tubes, and maybe a fluke rigged weightless. Anything I can run slow slow slow is going to get the tie on.
Other lures that are typically considered fast moving like spinnerbaits and even some shallow running crankbaits can be tossed out with a slow crawl presentation. These will work too if you get them close to strike zone. And this strike zone gets very small as we reach winter.
Late spring and summer the warm water fish are at the peak of their activity. Metabolic rates are optimum and the fish feed as often as they can. The fishing action generally speaking is the best at this time for largemouth bass and other warm water fish. The largest fish may still cling to that heavy cover they call home but likely to move around quite a bit in search of food. This is what you had in July…not the case now.
As temps move out of the 60-degree range and down towards 50-degrees or lower, you see bass activity slow to a crawl. This is due to the biological fact that fish are cold blooded. Their metabolism and circulatory system slows down emulating an almost hibernation type behavior. They still feed but it is infrequent and based more on opportunity or chance.
Slowing the lure speed down to match the energy allowance in winter is another huge factor. The fish will not be able to swim long distances or attack forage as aggressively as they do in summer. Instead of a lunging strike the fish will lurch slowly forward, open their mouth and hopefully close it on a tasty morsel or your lure. Anglers can still get the occasional reactionary strike with the “cast-n-rip back” method but a slow slow slow presentation increases the chances greatly of getting a bite as opposed to the lure passing by.
Cold water bass note: Play them short and get them back quickly. Similar to bears and other wintering creatures in Colorado, fish do their best to store up fat reserves for the long winter. Overplaying the fish depletes these reserves and could weaken the fish severely. This isn’t just for bass but a primary concern for warm water fish that don’t actively feed in winter. Over handling can also hurt the fish more in the cold weather months due to their slowed circulatory and immune systems. It takes them longer to recuperate so in turn it is healthier for the fish to be handled as minimal as possible.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.