Mark Zona shares his two best techniques for fishing cold-water temperatures ranging from 40 to 50 degrees.
When the water is cold, bass often go into wintering holes, a place where many of them are gathered.
Two different key techniques to use during this time are an umbrella rig and a drop shot. These techniques are powerful in 40-to-50-degree water.
The titanium on the Strike King Titanium Umbrella Rig is great because it bends. This bend provides a couple of advantages. One advantage is that it returns right back to its original shape after catching a fish. The Umbrella Rig also can flare by just moving the reel handle.
Most of the time the forage is smaller in cold water situations. So, for his trailers, Zona generally uses 3.25-inch Rage Swimmers. However, when the water is warmer and the fish are feeding on larger forage, he uses 3.75 or 4.75-inch Rage Swimmers.
Mark Zona uses the Mark Rose Lew’s Signature Series Rod for fishing the umbrella rig. This is a 7’6” swimbait rod with a little bit of tip and a lot of backbone. A common misconception is that a bulky rod like a broomstick is needed.
Mark Zona prefers to use the umbrella rig in the worst types of weather conditions, such as wind, snow, sleet or rain. The harsher the weather conditions, the better the umbrella rig performs. The key is to use the umbrella rig as a searching tool by slow rolling it.
After fishing with an umbrella rig and getting bitten, Mark Zona switches over to a drop shot. For an ideal dropshot trailer with a small profile, use a Strike King Half Shell, a Baby Z-Too or a Dream Shot. In the winter, it is best to use a very short leader. A short 4-to-5-inch leader will minimize the baits action, which is best for cold water fishing.
The Mark Zona Lew’s Signature Series All-purpose Spinning Rod is great for fishing with a dropshot.
Fishing in cold water can either be awful or the best fishing of the entire year. Generally, where one bass is found in the winter, there are more. The way to find the fish on a map is by finding any depression in a giant flat. The flat could be 8 feet deep and have a hole that will drop down to around 12 to 15 feet of water. Bass will winter in that depression.
Another key element to finding bass in the winter is finding the deepest grass. This will be the last live grass on the body of water.
In the winter, remember to use an umbrella rig first and then back it up with a drop shot with a short leader. Make sure to chase either a depression on a flat or the last live grass on the lake to catch cold water bass.