In the winter months the water temperature is just 50 to 54 degrees, so most of the fish are lethargic, with a slowing of their vital functions. Food becomes scarce, and in fact it seems that there is no life on the shore.
Only large fish will retain some activity, and small fish will be at a considerable depth, totally lethargic, because they are more affected (since their bodies have lower mass) than the lunkers by the dropping water temperature. So in principle, if we are fishing in Spain in these months, December to March, we will catch just large and very large fish.
Why do I think that fishing with a jig is a good deal at this time of the year? That’s easy. This is one of the most versatile lures on the market that will allow us to find the fish in all possible water depths – as deep as 8-10 meters (25-30 feet deep) or in one foot of water, without changing the lure. And you may be thinking, “In one foot of water? Didn’t he say in winter there should be nothing along the shore?”
On “warm” winter days, the temperature of the water rises several degrees, and these days are like gold. Those few degrees more in the water, because the sun is hitting hard, can encourage some fish, always large, to go hide amongst the obstacles on the shore, looking for a bit more warmth for her body, and while there, well why not eat something such as your jig!
Different Kinds of Jigs
We can find various types of heads on jigs, depending on the use that we will give to these lures, but these are the two different models: 1) the bullet head to penetrate inside thick cover and 2) the football head for fishing rocky bottoms and/or to use like a crankbait (swimming jig action, cast and retrieve). Also depending on the brand, we can find many variations and mutations of these two main types, such as stand-up jigs having a head that is not good for fishing in grass, wood or any kind of cover, because they are completely flat on bottom to let a soft plastic trailer stand up like a crawdad in defense. These heads will be good for bottom fishing in similar situations where we can use a shaky head, but with the added benefit of a skirt on a stand-up jig to give more size and movement to the lure.
Before any finesse lover starts wondering why I have not talked about micro jigs yet…first, my experience with micro jigs is quite limited, I have used them only few times, and I do not like to talk about what I don’t truly know, but I will give you my humble opinion anyhow. I don’t consider micro jigs appropriate for fishing at this time of the year, because the lighter tackle best suited to micro jigs (limited power rod, and thin line) is the last thing I would like to have in my hands when I’m trying to land a large fish, and do not forget that our quarry in winter are just the big fish, because they are the only ones that retain a modicum of activity.
The two most common weights for me are 3/8oz and 1/2oz. The lighter 3/8 for pitching and bottom fishing on the shore, and the heavier 1/2 for flipping in heavy cover and bottom fishing in deeper water. And if the cover is very thick or we are fishing very deep or it’s a windy day (so you need to better feel the lure), we can go up to 3/4 or 1 oz.
Rod, Reel, Line
Let’s talk now about the tackle we are going to use for this kind of fishing. This requires a stout 7 ‘ to 7’6” rod, high modulus carbon and fast action, with a high ratio reel full of 20 to 30 pounds braid. We will add a fluorocarbon leader to the end of the braid, with a length between 6 to 10 feet. This tackle is just a means to effectively pull in large fish, and it should allow us to detect subtle bites even in water of considerable depth, to set the thick hook of a jig inside heavy cover or on a very long cast with lot of line out, and finally, it will help us to control the fight every moment and get the fish into the boat without undue difficulty. Nowadays, my choice is an Abu-Garcia Verdict 7’6” heavy action stick with a Revo MGX full of Fireline braid plus a Trilene fluorocarbon leader.
The best bet is to go with two rods with different jigs, one for fishing inside the cover and the other for the open bottom.
As mentioned earlier, if the temperature of the particular day is noticeably higher than the last few days, we should look for the fish to move up into very shallow water (I have seen many fish over 5 pounds in 1 foot of depth), hiding buried within the available shore cover and also staging along depth changes close to the shore. The fish can move back and forth between the shore cover and the nearby depth changes (in both places, the fish should feel completely protected, so she should eat your jig easily). On the other hand, if we are having a cold day, we should look for the fish in deeper water from 4 to 10 feet deep. Fishing deeper on these colder days is much more boring and normally we will catch less than when we are burning down the shoreline on warm days, but we cannot predict what the temperature will be on days we’re able to go fishing so we take the cold with the warm days and hope for he best.
Winter will slowly but surely lead to prespawn jig fishing and even though I will welcome spring’s arrival, I will always cherish those epic days in December to March with lots of large and very large fish and absolute tranquility because in winter, the majority of anglers don’t go fishing and you may not see another angler most days.
Undoubtedly I encourage you to try this type of fishing, looking for the great winter lunkers!
I hope I have helped you discover new aspects about winter fishing with jigs and the habits of large bass in winter. I also hope you will please continue to follow my stories and tales from Spain. Thank you very much for your time and I’ll write to you soon. – Roberto