Thump Cold-Water Bass. Don’t Rattle Them.

As waters cool, big bass get active again. Fish that have hidden beneath impenetrable cover or sulked in the depths and refused to bite your bait are suddenly putting on the feed bag.

As late fall becomes winter, now is a great time to catch big bass. In fact, a deep freeze will stun shad and other baitfish. Strong predators take advantage of such situations.

When conditions are a tad bit adverse, or bass have simply heard lures rattle past all summer, a subtler approach can make all the difference.

Then there’s this:  Scientists tell us that as fish mature, they rely more heavily on their lateral line to locate food. This remote sensory organ is attuned to vibration rather than sound. And as fish mature, they generally grow larger.

Hence, bigger fish are more likely to eat a lure that thumps-out a low frequency vibration than one that rattles-out a high pitch sound and attracts the more abundant, smaller, ‘crumb-snatcher bass’ that rely more readily on their sense of hearing.

The adjustment could be as simple as switching to a tungsten-toting ‘trap’ instead of one loaded with the traditional bb’s.

Strike King’s Tungsten 2 Tap comes to mind. Another classic example would be Heddon’s One Knocker.

And, since we’re looking for big bass, throw a big lure. Three-quarters of an ounce would work well. Don’t be afraid to throw the big lipless bait into shallow water. Grass should be thinned out enough this time of year that you can dip-and-rip a relatively heavy lure through it when the big girls visit the upper edge of the food shelf.

On one memorable trip I caught a 9-pounder in the morning and a 6-pounder in the afternoon, both from tufts of grass in 4 feet of water adjacent to the 30-foot depths from which the fish had slid up. The day before, my friend caught a giant from one of the very same grass clumps, about the size of a trash can. When they are ready to eat, they will sit up at the dinner table, usually in surprisingly shallow water.

While knocker-style plugs are great choices for low frequency fishing, you can cut the sound completely and send out good vibes only. Some flat-sided lures are devoid of any internal noise makers.

On the other hand, blade baits make for a superb change up.

The old school Silver Buddy or Gay Blade are about the size of a threadfin shad and will catch good numbers of fall and winter fish shallow or deep. I’ve successfully used them in holes and ditches on Lake Toho, the St. Johns River and similar Florida waters during the cooler months.

The Steel Shad is a unique blade bait that comes in an unmatched variety of sizes to match the forage you want to imitate, including big ole gizzard shad and wild shiners – that would be the 2oz. XXL size. And as the folks at Steel Shad point out, “Our blade bait is designed to catch fish in 6 inches or 60 feet of water. It’s the only blade bait you will find that can run on the water’s surface.”

That’s a handy characteristic when cranking the flats for big cold weather bass.

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