When winter fishing for bass, anglers often first reach for lures like the jerkbait, blade bait, or finesse gear. But what if we told you that the summertime-classic chatterbait is one of the best winter bass fishing lures as well? Well, despite the common misconception that the chatterbait should be put away during the winter, we are here to say that this is false. Today we will be taking a look at chatterbait fishing during the winter season and going over some tips to catch a trophy bass next time you hit the water. So with that being said let’s get right into the first tip!
Winter Chatterbait Fishing 101: Match the Hatch
For experienced anglers, matching the hatch with the chatterbait might seem like a no-brainer. However, some bass anglers are quick to forget just how much this affects whether or not the bass will bite your lure. Whenever anglers hit the water they must know what type of forage of bait is in their body of water so they can mimic its color and action. Typically, chatterbaits can be used to mimic a variety of things such as bluegill, shad, crawfish, and more. We’d recommend matching the hatch with bait in your waters, or in cases where you don’t know, throw natural colors in clear water and darker colors in stained water. Right out of the gate, this substantially increases your chances of hooking up with a bass with any lure, but especially the chatterbait.
Winter Chatterbait Fishing 101: Your Rod, Reel, & Line Combo
Even though a steady retrieve bait like the chatterbait doesn’t seem like it would require gear, this is also one of the key aspects to success, especially during the winter bass fishing months. During the colder months, bass often enter a stage where they aren’t very active, and because of this, it’s very important to have a slower gear ratio reel so you don’t end up reeling in too fast. In cold waters bass often need more time to react, so reeling too fast can often ruin anglers' chances of hooking into a winter bass. We’d recommend using a reel that has a gear ratio similar to 6:2:1. This is enough speed so the chatterbait doesn’t fall into the ground, but also not too much to the point where bass miss their chance to bite. As far as the line there are many ways to go, but typically anglers use heavy braid with a monofilament leader that’s a couple of feet long. You don’t need a lot of sensitivity when throwing the chatterbait because of the vibration, so a strong braided line is often the way to go, especially when fishing in stained water. For a chatterbait fishing rod, we recommend anything above 7 feet because of the casting distance needed for a moving bait. The sensitivity of the rod is a matter of the angler's preference, but to get the ideal casting distance we recommend a longer rod.
Winter Chatterbait Fishing 101: Areas to Target
During the winter bass fishing season, it can be especially tough to find where the fish are and catch them consistently. With the chatterbait, this is no different, but there are a few areas we look for that increase anglers' chances of catching a fish exponentially. The first area that can often be a honey hole for winter chatterbait fishing is warm water discharges. Whether it’s a drain or a natural stream, bass will always be attracted to the warmest areas of the water, which is where the chatterbait will likely have the most success. In these areas, bass will also be more active, which in turn makes a moving bait like the chatterbait a great choice to throw in these areas! If your body of water doesn’t have any warmer areas, then the next best bet is typically areas that have any type of structure. Brush or wood-filled areas are usually best for the chatterbait, but any type of structure is likely to have fish in it.
Winter Chatterbait Fishing 101: Best Retrieval Method
In the summer days, chatterbait fishing is simple, all you have to do is reel it in steadily. The winter, however, is where things change because bass tend to become lethargic and not chase moving baits nearly as much. This doesn’t mean that a steady retrieval won’t work, but if you try it without luck we’d recommend using a different method. Our team has by far had the most success fishing a chatterbait like a jig and letting it bounce off the bottom. The slow movement of the blade when doing this can oftentimes be very enticing to the lethargic bass and it’s proven to get anglers lots of bites!
Winter bass fishing is one of the hardest times of the year, but with the chatterbait it can be one of the best! If applied correctly, the tips given today will not only increase your chatterbait fishing skills, but also give you more experience in regards to finding where the winter bass are stacked up, and what they are eating. We hope that next time you hit the water you try out the chatterbait and share with us how it went!