Skinny water doesn’t equate to skinny fish. This fringe-feeding bass was in prime winter condition.

Winter bass in the shallows

TWO decades have passed since I penned my first piece on catching bass in winter for a national glossy magazine. Recent trips to several lakes in southern Queensland from Monto south to the border led me to review current tactics to see how much cool water bass fishing has changed in subsequent years.

The verdict is that not much has changed. This fish still behaves in much the same way and angling methods have evolved very little, but here’s an update for newcomers to winter fishing for bass. Winter is when the huge high-pressure cells that almost cover the continent are most common. winter bass shallow

A reasonable lump of a bass taken while trolling the shallows along the sunny shore during frosty weather.

The eyes of those high cells bring clear warm days with little to no wind. The few days of that warm spell, as the high’s centre drifts eastwards, can trigger a period of feeding activity in bass regardless of the time of year. When those weather conditions occur in southern Queensland, you’ll often start the day rugged up Eskimo-style though by 10am stripped down fishing in shorts and a t-shirt while slapping on sunscreen.

Angling for bass in the wide-open depths of our large lakes has become well established and a habit for many fishos. Chasing bass in the shallows is less popular but can be very effective. Outside of drought years, most bass lakes receive enough autumn rain to cause a rise in water levels.winter bass shallow

Bass are often encountered feeding in very shallow water in early winter and during warm periods. An underutilised method for chasing shallow-feeding bass is to slow troll very small shallow-running minnows. Most of this trolling is done in water from 1.5-3m deep. Our most successful lure during the past twenty or so winters has been the shallow Predatek MinMin.

It closely resembles the gudgeons upon which bass feed, in both size and shape. Colours in the range – such as Aussie Gold, Bronze Bass, Black Beetle and Rainbow Trout – have all produced excellent results in Queensland’s bass lakes. There is no place for rod holders in this style of fishing.winter bass shallow

Another solid winter bass in the net.

Trolling water that shallow involves skimming lures over a lot of aquatic vegetation. A handheld outfit loaded with fine braid allows you to feel when a lure is bumping weed or grass. When this happens, either drop the tip back and then raise it higher to clear the weed or knock the motor into neutral to allow the lure to float up.winter bass shallow

When fishing from a kayak, simply stop paddling – or pedalling – while the lure floats above the vegetation. Both methods work well if the trolling speed is dead slow, say 1-1.5 knots.winter bass shallow

Next time you wake to see frost on the ground, don’t get back into bed and pull the covers up to your ears, race over to your nearest bass lake and give them a try.

About Neil Schultz

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