Catch Big Winter Bass with Kurt Dove
Don’t tell professional bass angler Kurt Dove that the fish don’t bite during the winter months. He hails from the state of Texas where big winter bass lurk and ice fishing is fake news. He gloats, “In early winter the bass are still in fall patterns!”
“This is Run and Gun time. No wasted time,” Dove asserts. “There are two ways to catch fish: deep and shallow. Each is a different kind of fish. Deep fish might be in bigger schools, but are less active so more challenging to catch. Shallow fish on the otherhand, are more aggressive; they’re chasing bait, so they’re easier to catch. I’m a fast-action kind of guy, so I go after the shallow fish!”
Winter Bass - Where's the shad?
Dove emphasizes, “It’s super important not to get caught in No Man’s Land this time of year. It’s either deep or shallow.” This is because of the shad. “Baitfish don’t stay in a mid-depth range; they either stay out deep or move shallow – really shallow!” Dove’s definition of No Man’s Land is between 5-15 feet deep.
“Shad in the shallows,” Dove explains, “are staying in the backs of creeks and coves. You can tell which creeks will have the shad by paying attention to the birds. Herons and other birds follow the shad just like the bass.”
Some pockets are better than others, so Dove “Runs and Guns.” If I don’t see birds in the creeks or shad on my depth finder, I don’t even make a cast. I just run to the next creek: ‘Run in and Run Out.’”
In South Texas, water temperatures hover in the 60s into the new year. “The hydrilla begins to die, which opens the door for power fishing – my favorite way to catch big winter bass.” Dove pursues shallow, shad-oriented with three shad-imitating lures.
3 Lures to Catch Shallow, Big Winter Bass
This soft plastic lure made by Optima Baits has become Dove’s go-to lure wherever fish are up shallow chasing bait is similar to a traditional fluke. “I work this bait like a jerkbait with very slow twitches around any cover I see.” Weeds have likely decreased in the cooler water, which makes any remaining weeds sweeter. But if weeds are not present, structure can be anything: rocks, docks, stumps, logs, or even small depressions.
“For better hooksets, I always use a WRM956 hook by Hayabusa,” shares Dove. He uses 15-pound test fluorocarbon line on a 7.1 gear ratio reel and 7-foot medium heavy rod. The Tennessee Shad color scheme is his favorite.
If the wind is blowing, an old school spinnerbait becomes his first choice. “No doubt about it, the spinnerbait catches the biggest bass this time of year.”
He wants a spinnerbait with big willowleaf blades – sizes 4 and 6. A ½ ounce model also gets the call to duty, “A heavier weight allows for a faster retrieve with longer casts, but it’s also a big option, which mimics the prominent big shad this time of year.”
“Like other times of the year, early morning is the most active time of day for the fish. So, if I see wind early in the morning, I’m not hesitating to begin with a spinnerbait.”
Color choice is determined by the water clarity: cleaner water demands more realistic color schemes, but, “No matter the color choice, I NEVER forget to add a trailer keeper.” He prefers a Hayabusa WRM 929 Trailer. He uses the same tackle as he does with the Victory Tail.
Dove claims, “A walking bait can produce the most explosive strikes you’ll ever see in these conditions!” But the conditions have to warrant a shift from the spinnerbait or Victory Tail (VT). “It must be calm, and I’m probably not going to throw it until I’ve worked the area with the VT.”
His favorite walking bait is a Ima Little Stick. Like the VT, he slings this bait around any cover he can find. “I’ll cast it past the structure, and quickly work it to it. Once close, I’ll twitch it 6-8 times. If I’m convinced a fish is around it, I’ll make repeated casts from different angles.”
The same rod and reel combo is used with the Little Stick, but he switches the line to 40-pound braid. He also swaps out the factory hooks for Hayabusa TBL 930 hooks, but most importantly, “Always, always, always put a feathered hook in the rear!”
Make sure to check out what Kurt Dove is up to on his websites: Kurt Dove, Amistad Bass Guide, Bass Edge Radio podcast, and Pro Bass Camp, or follow him on his social media pages.