Winter can be a fickle beast when it comes to bass fishing, especially on deep, clear Southern impoundments. Shad may die or move out to deeper areas, bass follow them or find a comfy spot offshore, and everything seems to get put on hold for a while.
If you know how to unlock the winter secrets, though, fishing can be pretty good. Ryan Coleman (lanierspots.com) is a full-time guide on Lake Lanier in northeast Georgia, which is renowned for its spotted bass. Spots can be frustrating at times, but in winter Coleman heads to deep water with a jig and patience.
“The deep bite is by far the best bite,” he said. “I use Spotsticker Hand-Tied casting jigs in 35 to 45 feet of water in the brown/olive living rubber jig, PB&J, and Georgia Craw colors.”
Coleman fires a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce jig around timber, adding a matching twin-tail trailer. This mimics a crawfish scuttling across the bottom. Spots will be relating to the timber and a craw is too tasty a morsel to pass up.
Thanks to the clear water Lanier can warm up a little quicker in winter on sunny days. String together two or three like that with temperatures in the 50s or low 60s—which is a possibility in February—and you may be able to head to shallow water.
Shallow’s relative, of course, but in this case you’re looking at 10-15 feet deep around points with chunk rock. There are plenty of these on Lanier, too, and with its hard clay bottoms and chunk rock there’s a good chance you can tie into a few aggressive spots.
Tie on a medium-running crankbait that will get to 15 feet deep—monofilament gives you some stretch, of course, unless you just prefer fluorocarbon. Stick with shad or crawfish colors. You may want to rip a jerkbait, too, if that floats your boat.