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Cold Water Tactics Part 4

Published on March 9, 2009

Here in Texas, we are already way past the 50-degree mark. However, in some Northern waters, temperatures are still cold.

In my previous articles on cold water tactics, I mentioned that the top producing lures were skirted jigs, medium running crankbaits and lipless crankbaits. Those were the top baits in lakes with water temperatures below 50 degrees.

The only bait that rivals those baits is a plastic suspended jerkbait. Redfin and rogues are examples of suspending jerkbaits. They are long and slender and have a small shallow diving bill on front and usually have 2 or 3 treble hooks. I highly recommend fishing them in cold water if you are by yourself or with one partner. They aren't very convenient for me as a guide, because you really need to slow the boat down and have everyone fishing the same speed. I'm usually fishing lipless crankbaits in the winter and it can be a real mess to add three more rods with treble hooked lures to the deck.

My recommendation is to use the faster moving baits to find the fish, then patiently work the productive areas with the jerkbaits. Most guides and pros recommend working them very slow in the winter. Most inexperienced fishermen work them way too fast, so try to fish them as slow as possible.

More fish are recorded for the jerkbait in water under 50 degrees than almost all warmer temperatures combined. April is the month with the most fish recorded on hard jerkbaits in cold water. The next best months are March, January, and February (in that order). Obviously, those April fish weren't caught in Texas because the water temps rarely dip below 60 in April. That appears to be a popular bait in the Northern states.

Clear to semi-stained water is the best for the hard jerkbaits. Very few fish are recorded in muddy or stained water. So visibility better than 3 feet is best. The best depth by far is 6 to 10 feet. In fact, more fish are recorded in that depth than all other depths combined. The best structure for these baits are (in order) main lake points, creek channels, secondary points, dropoffs, and boat docks. The best cover for the hard jerkbaits is clean bottoms with very little cover, followed by various forms of rocks, submerged vegetation, and trees. Nine o'clock a.m. to noon is the best time period. First light to sunup is next, followed by the sunup to 9 a.m. period, then 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Virtually no fish were recorded near or after dark.

Those four top baits (jig, medium crankbait, lipless crankbait, hard jerkbait) should help equip you with a good wintertime arsenal. There's still a lot of information to share about cold water tactics. However, here in Texas we already have water temps in the 60s. So, we'll wrap up this series on cold water tactics. Check back soon for Insider tips for fishing warming water.

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