FLW Tour pro Mark Rose has a built a reputation as one of the best offshore fisherman on the pro tour. He excels at tournaments held on venues such as the Tennessee River system and relies on a variety of different techniques to catch winning bags. The use of spoons has been a major part of his success and according to Rose, “There is really no wrong time of year to use a spoon, but the best situations for using this technique is from late summer all the way through the colder winter months.” He shares some of his tips and experience on winter spoon fishing below.
Rose categorizes spoons into two major categories, a standard jigging spoon and what he calls a “cradling” type spoon (aka flutter spoon) such as the Strike King Sexy Spoon. According to Rose, both have a time and place. The jigging spoon is basically a solid piece of lead with added flash. They are typically smaller in size yet heavier in weight. They have been in existence for decades and still produce bites, especially when bass are keying on schools of baitfish.
The Strike King Sexy Spoon comes in two sizes, a 5.5” and a 4” model. The 5.5” weighs in at 1.3 ounces and covers the majority of Rose’s winter spoon fishing. The one exception is in lakes with smaller baitfish, “I’ll switch to the smaller one anytime the shad are smaller in that lake,” mentions Rose.
One thing that Rose has learned the hard way is to ensure that your hooks are up to par. “When you are constantly using the spoon, you will wear down the hooks. The hooks on the Sexy Spoon are good, but once they wear down I’ll change them out with a thicker gauge hook such as an Owner Stinger hook or a thicker Mustad short shank.” He advises to use the thicker hooks to ensure they do not get damaged from the constant bottom contact and possibility of losing fish due to straightened hooks. When a bass hits a spoon, they are often chasing a fast moving target and having sharp hooks will forgive some of the errant strikes by bass.
When discussing a standard jigging spoon, Rose explains, “I’ll use these spoons with a more vertical retrieve and the Sexy Spoon with a more horizontal approach.” The most important thing about fishing any type of spoon properly is the retrieve. “The whole key is to let it fall on a slack line, and any tension in your line will affect your bait. I can’t stress that enough,” shares Rose. He advises to think of fishing a Sexy Spoon like fishing a 10 inch worm, “Make your cast as long as possible and then sweep it up and down off the bottom with a good steady lift.” To accomplish this, he is a believer in using the longest rod you can get away with.
A rod with adequate length is vital for spoon fishing according to Rose. “I use a Kistler KLX rod that is 7’8” in a heavy action. It’s really light and that longer rod allows me to pump and sweep that spoon off of the bottom,” shares Rose. He also is a firm believer in the use of fluorocarbon line as it will allow him to have better action on the spoon, “I’ll use 20lb Seaguar InvizX for the Sexy Spoon and 15lb test for the jigging spoon,” says the FLW Tour pro.
Where and When
When asked about the ideal winter spoon fishing variables, Rose explains that “It really will work anytime you have clear water situations and where big shad are present. It is great on river systems as well.” When mentioning water clarity, Rose believes that anything with 3 feet or more visibility is well suited for throwing the heavy metal. During the colder months, there is often no better way to load the boat than by throwing a spoon as the baitfish are big and the bass are keying on dying and injured shad, as long as they are able to see the spoon from a distance.
The other important key to winter spoon fishing is the presence of active bass that are suspending or moving throughout the water column. The biggest reason this happens is the presence of baitfish. Rose will use a variety of tools to locate the ideal situation, and electronics play a big role in assisting him to determine the right time and place to throw the spoon.
The use of electronics is crucial in bass fishing and fishing a spoon is no different. “I use electronics to read the fish just as much or more than I do to see what’s on the bottom. They are very important and let me know what mood the fish are in,” shares Rose. In addition to determining the mood of the fish, Rose will look for key signs that the fish will be active enough and willing to bite a spoon, “I look for fish streaking at bait instead of just sitting on the bottom. When they are not moving as much, they are more difficult to catch with a spoon, but it can still be done,” adds Rose. Determining when and where to find active fish takes time and Rose admits that the only way to know for sure if they will be ready for a spoon is spending time on the water learning the intricacies of how fish move by using your “underwater eyes” meaning tools such as Down Scan and Structure Scan. “I could not do what I do without my Lowrance electronics,” adds Rose.
Mark Rose as well as other top pros have found that when the right factors are in place, using the heavy metal can be the best way to target cold water bass keying on baitfish. Using your electronics and a spoon to target winter bass can be a very rewarding experience.