Dan Morehead shared his top 5 lures for Coldwater Bass Fishing. Obviously it’s hard for him to say these five baits will work everywhere where the water is below 50 degrees. But he tried to narrow it down to those baits that have worked for him in a lot of different situations and on a lot of different fisheries.
1. A JIG AND PIG
Being from Kentucky Lake, where a jig produces all 12 months of the year, Morehead quickly named that his top coldwater lure.
“I always have a jig in the boat,” Morehead said. “It might be a downscale finesse type jig with a smaller profile though in the winter. I want to slow crawl it on the bottom. Sometimes I’ll fish it around rip rap near deep water, but I want a light weight jig on light 10- to 12-pound fluorocarbon. Sometimes I will put a real big trailer on there to slow the fall even more.
“I keep the colors simple with black/blue, some shade of brown or green pumpkin. I let the water clarity dictate which color to throw. Natural in clear and darker in stained. Then I match it with a trailer. Since I’m an old school guy, I still like a pork frog when the water temperature dips below 50 degrees.”
Morehead won a tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in April 2005. A cold front passed through and destroyed most anglers patterns while Morehead simply picked up a round-ball finesse jig, like the Jewel Eakins Jig Troy Eakins designed and threw to finish second, and waxed the field with a near 20-pound limit, proving a light finesse jig in cold water can pay big.
2. A BIG SPINNERBAIT
Most folks will think willow leaf spinnerbaits around grass and cover in the spring, but for Morehead an extra large No. 5 Colorado-bladed spinnerbait fished a lot like a jig, just slow along the bottom, produces big stringers of bass for him.
“I’ve had some huge limits in Jan. and Feb. throwing a big spinnerbait and fishing it real slow along the bottom,” he said. “I like a big No. 5 with the big thump and just fish it slow on the bottom or crawl it through big laydowns.”
“It’s a water clarity dependent lure, but it’s definitely a top producer when the water temperature gets below 50. The two keys to fishing a jerkbait are a) finding the depth the fish are suspended with your electronics and b) determining the cadence you need to work your jerks and pauses.”
Morehead fishes with a high-gear-ratio reel even though he’s fishing slow because he needs to be able to take up slack quickly on a bite and lean into the fish. Most of the time, the fish will eat his jerkbait when it’s sitting still, but over there years he’s discovered a slow sinking bait is even better at certain times. Although fishing his jerkbait around a lot of standing timber like Table Rock and Beaver Lakes can make fishing a slow sinker painful.
“I’ve got a box down in my shop that has $4,000 worth of Megabass Ito Vision 110 jerkbaits,” Morehead said. “But heck I won $40,000 in one year on the things so I guess it paid for itself. But it still pains me to reach down and break one off when it gets hung in standing timber.”
4. MEDIUM-DEPTH DIVING CRANKBAITS
Morehead has done well in the winter and prespawn with those medium depth diving crankbaits, notching his first FLW Tour victory on Beaver Lake with the coldwater prespawn pattern. He uses them a lot as search tools, but it’s not always his primary weapon come fishing time.
“I often will use one to find an active fish or two in an area then come back with something like a jig and catch the fish a lot better. It’s a great search bait. But at times it can also produce big stringers for me.”
The fishery, water clarity and conditions will dictate his lure color. If he’s fishing the Ozark lakes, he might try a crawfish pattern first. Around home on Kentucky Lake, he likes a bait that has a little chartreuse on it. Down in Texas he often finds something with some red in the bait.
Again he’s fishing slow, but he’s targeting steep-sloping banks and targeting transition areas between shallow cover and deep suspending fish.
5. LIPLESS CRANKBAITS
His wildcard bait is a lipless crankbait. If he’s fishing lakes with grass in the late winter and early spring, he will always have a lipless crankbait tied on. It’s equally effective on rocky points and big flats that might be warming faster than other parts of a cove or bay. Worm the bait along and jerk the rod to free it from obstruction whether its bumping a stump or snapping free of grass.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Morehead struggled to narrow his list down to just five, noting that a jigging spoon and a drop shot can both be deadly fishing deep and vertically in cold water. But given the fact that those baits were a lot more limited to the fisheries being very clear and the fish being positioned deeper, he went with this top 5 for most of his winter time fishing.