The chilly weather sweeps in with vengeance after the long warm summer days. The shad begin to die off in the shad kill and new colors start to generate more bites. Andy Montgomery explains how to fish the shad kill and target fish in the cold water with craw patterns.
I have three favorite cold-water baits that separate themselves distinctly in winter situations.
In any type of fishing conditions, the first thing that I consider is the primary forage for that specific time of year. When the weather is cold, there are two main types of forage: dying shad and crawdads. Bass do not target a lot of bream when the water is cold, so I do not focus on imitating them. I will focus on the shad and crawdad forage.
When the water gets cold, the shad die off and sink slowly in the water column. This is called a shad kill. The shad will be hovering and quivering in the water. There is no better way to imitate this than a jerk bait.
My favorite used to be a standard jerk bait, but in extra cold situations it has become the deep diving KVD Jerkbait in a shad color. The deep diving KVD Jerkbait is great because it dives a little closer to the suspended bass underneath the bait. Adjust your hook’s size so that your bait perfectly suspends or barely sinks in the water. This is the best technique to imitate a dying shad that is hovering or slowly sinking in the water.
I will fish this lure anywhere that I see the live bait. The bait could be in the middle of a pocket, situated on a point, or in the back of a creek. In the winter time, you have a lot of seagulls around. If you see them diving for dying shad, that is a good place to fish with a jerk bait.
My favorite forage to imitate during the winter time is a crawdad. The two best ways to imitate a crawdad is with a square bill crankbait and a jig.
I choose red, orange, and brown crawfish colors for my crankbait. Red is a deadly color to use in cold water. Fish really like red. The KVD Squarebill 1.5 comes in a variety of new crawdad colors. This crankbait imitates a crawdad slowly crawling across the bottom and then quivers when it deflects cover. This bait can cover a lot of water and catch fish in cold water situations.
Some places I may use this bait are boat ramps, docks, dock poles, stumps, or rocks. I avoid floating docks because this is a target-oriented bait. The crawdads live around cover, not out in open water.