Winter spells a long, agonizing vacation off the water for many fishermen, but for intrepid anglers, this time of year might mean braving the cold for the chance of filling a cooler with fish pulled through the ice. What about when the ice is crowded or a mild winter leaves the ice questionable or you’re just looking for a break from ice fishing?
To remedy this trio of setbacks and still catch bass, look no further than your local rivers, which are likely to still be flowing freely. Here are 3 tips to keep in mind when you’re stalking the river shoreline this winter.
High Ground Helps
Depth plays a key role on a lake and river fishing is no different. However, you can’t really use electronics or a topo map to check for holes in the river. This is where you’ll want to find a high vantage point along the bank that allows you to look down over a river to spot those deep holes where the water isn’t moving as much. When you spot one of these slack water holes, check for ideal factors that tell you it’s a good spot, such as a log or large boulder that protect fish from the current.
Stealth Pays Off
Just like shore fishing a lake or pond, you’ll need to keep a small profile as you stalk the bank, especially on sunny days when you cast a long shadow. Bass will quickly become well aware of your presence if you’re not staying low and they won’t bite if they see or hear you crashing around the brush. Furthermore, considering how easily spooked these bass will be, your first few casts will be crucial, so take your time. If you’re snagging a lure in the trees every time you cast, you’ll make a lot of commotion, giving the fish more time to figure out that you’re there.
Tie One On
If you’re planning on fishing rivers for bass this winter, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the proper lures on-hand for the job. Search baits, like small swimbaits or jerkbaits, can efficiently draw strikes from lingering fish, letting you know what areas are harboring the rest of the school. The bass may not fully commit to these lures and strike them, but these bass can be picked off later with slower finesse baits like a dropshot or a jig. Furthermore, due to the weeds and low hanging branches you’ll be fishing in along the river bank, weedless baits and baits rigged weedless—jigs, tubes and worms—will be your best friends.