Where Bass Go in the Winter and When to Fish Them

The product recommendations on our site are independently chosen by our editors. When you click through our links, we may earn a commission. 

The shorter days of winter profoundly impact bass location and their overall activity level. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Menendez explains where bass go during the winter months, the best times of the day to fish them, and why bigger baits often lead to more quality fish.

Where to Catch Winter Bass

For starters, cold water significantly reduces bass metabolism, which reduces the speed at which they move and the distance they’re willing to travel. As such, Menendez targets fish around areas of “verticality,” that is, steep edges that give them quick assess to feeding flats and deep water without moving far. While most winter bass live in the main stem of the lake, there are always a few bass living in shallow water, but again, usually adjacent to deeper water.

When to Catch Winter Bass

A reduced metabolism requires bass to feed when they’re most efficient, which means during daylight hours so that they can see and, in some cases, take advantage of warming water. The key times to catch bass in the winter are first thing in the morning, midday, and right before dark, with Menendez catching most of his quality fish early and late in the day. He explains “the why” in detail concerning metabolism, which also ties to forage size and lure selection.

Why Use Bigger Baits

Concerning forage and lure selection, winter bass fishing is a great time to upsize; again, it’s all about energy expenditure. A bass expends less energy eating a bigger single meal than it does chasing down several smaller meals for the same amount of calories. Try using bigger lures in your favorite categories, such as jigs, crankbaits, or jerkbaits, to catch a better class of fish.

Check out our Winter Fishing Channel for more relevant seasonal content.