Sure, we all know that crankbaits are a standard tool for offshore summertime bass fishing! But do not be fooled into putting all of your crankbaits deep into storage during the coldest months of the year. Despite the poor flip-phone photo quality, you will see that my personal best bass came in the winter and on a crankbait nonetheless! Here are a couple nuggets of wisdom on how crankbaits could land YOUR personal best fish this winter!
This is a multifaceted piece of advice as I do trigger reaction strikes differently when it’s cold out. First, I don’t believe it’s a reaction to speed. In the summer, I’m wanting to wind my crankbait at wrist-breaking speed in order to trigger the bass into attacking my lure. When the water is cold, I find that it’s more so about repetition and simply aggravating the bass until it is fed up with the same stubborn bait coming by time after time. It’s still cold, the underwater world is still somewhat lethargic, so I want to imitate that by retrieving my crankbait at a slow pace so that when the lethargic bass decides to react she has time to locate it and eat it. The key is making that slow retrieve past that lethargic bass 5, 10, 15, maybe even 20 times until the fish can no longer stand it. This will typically yield in better than average sized bass!
Realistically, many of the same deep-divers you wield during the summer months will produce results when the temps drop, but there are a couple of models that come to mind whenever I think of cranking in the winter. As far as diving baits, it is hard to beat the natural action of a Rapala Shad Rap. It’s not as aggressive and it suits the mood of cold bass very well. It’s hard to think of cold water, long points, rip rap banks, and deep ledges without thinking of this classic lure. Another go-to in the winter is going to be a lipless crankbait, especially as winter wears on and spring begins to approach. When it comes to colors, it’s hard to go wrong with a red/orange crawfish color and a natural/silver to imitate baitfish.
Wintertime cranking can break the monotony of dragging super slow jigs and finesse baits while affording you the chance to catch the biggest bass of the year or MAYBE EVEN OF YOUR LIFE! Take these tips—and baits—with you the next time you hit the water!