The majority of anglers out there consider warmer water one of the keys to consistently catching bass. This is only half true though, catching bass in 40-50 degree water is more than achievable with a few special techniques and pieces of knowledge.
The key to catching bass in 40-50 degree water is understanding how their behavior changes in cold temperatures and then using the correct gear to exploit this.
Slower fishing with lures that can get deep while still being detectable is the best way to do this.
Can You Fish For Bass In 40-50 Degree Water?
Early spring and winter fishing for bass can be considerably more challenging than in the summer or fall when the water is significantly warmer. Because bass are cold-blooded creatures, they tend to become more lethargic and eat less in 40-50 degree water.
This doesn’t make early or late season bass fishing impossible though, it just means you have to know where to find them and adapt your fishing techniques to accommodate the situation.
What Does 40-50 Degree Water Do To Bass Behavior?
Bass will hang out in deeper water when the temperature is low because deeper water will be warmer when the air temperature is low. Low air temps come into contact with the surface making shallow waters colder, while deeper waters are affected less.
This is not always true though, abnormally sunny days can cause the fish to congregate around rockpiles, sandbars, or any other object in shallow water that will absorb heat from sunlight.
When fishing for bass in cold water, try to think about where the warmest area will be.
Since bass won’t be as aggressive and keen to chase bait, you will need to slow your fishing down considerably. Consecutive casts with fast retrievals around submerged cover won’t prove as effective as they do in the summer months.
How To Find Bass In 40-50 Degree Water
Knowing that bass will usually be deeper is only half the battle when it comes to finding these fish in the colder months, with locating creek channels and channel swings being the other half.
Creek channels are sections at the bottom of a body of water that has cut deeper into the earth over the years because they have had more time to do so. They are like the skeleton or blueprint of what a body of water looked like long ago.
Channel swings are sections of a creek channel that curve or deviate sharply in another direction. These are the hot spots that you are looking for.
Bass will take breaks from traveling through a creek channel in these spots, making them areas with high concentrations of fish. Topo maps, Google Earth, depth finders, or any form of sonar make locating these channels and swings easy.
Tips For Catching Bass In 40-50 Degree Water
Now that we know about where bass like to hang out when the water temperature is cold, let’s focus on how to get them on the hook. It is important to focus on the fact that a bass’ metabolism and behavior will be much less aggressive.
Since the bass will be deeper and slower than usual, lures with slower actions, higher visibility, and vibration are ideal for fishing in 40-50 degree water. Some of the popular types of lures for achieving this include:
- Spinner Baits
Correctly using any of these lures will help entice these fish to eat even when they aren’t as active in colder water.
Spoons For Bass In 40-50 Degree Water
Popular ways to catch bass in cold water include vertically jigging flutter spoons. They are great for lethargic bass because of their ability to quickly get down into deep water while also being visible.
¾-1½ oz spoons will usually be enough to quickly and effectively get down into the strike zone.
Metallic colors like silver and gold are great options because they will catch any sunlight that makes it down into deeper water. White is also effective when fishing in murky conditions.
Flutter spoons are especially effective when vertically jigged because they wobble so much as they fall through the water column. All of this movement is just another way for the lure to catch the eye of nearby bass.
Jerkbaits For Bass In 40-50 Degree Water
Prioritize a jerkbait that suspends well so that it doesn’t sink too fast. Since bass are less likely to chase bait in cold water, you want a jerkbait that will sink slowly in front of them in between jerks. This will make the fish more likely to strike since it won’t have to chase as fast.
Once you get your jerkbait down to the right depth, make sure to fish it very slowly. Fishing these lures slowly will imitate the behavior of a wounded baitfish.
Take 5-15 seconds in between jerks to let the lure convince onlooking bass that this will be an easy meal.
Jigs For Bass In 40-50 Degree Water
Jigging for Bass in cold water works great because they mimic slow-moving bait, like crawfish and crabs, that don’t take as much energy to chase down.
Larger jig-heads with high contrast will be your best bet because they will be easier to fish in deeper water and be more visible. ¾-1oz black and blue jigs are a favorite among bass fishermen in 40-50 degree water.
Like other lures for cold weather bass, it is imperative to slow down your retrieval speed in order to get the bass to bite.
Feel free to let your jig sit on the bottom for a few seconds while you slowly reel it in, you really want to convince the bass that this is a meal worth swimming after.
Crankbaits For Bass In 40-50 Degree Water
Crankbaits can also be highly effective when bass aren’t necessarily hungry. Using a crankbait that can get to the bottom, vibrate, and wobble is the best option for this type of fishing.
Make crankbaits that dive easily your priority when fishing for bass in 40-50 degree water. This will allow you to slowly reel the lure in while keeping it in the strike zone as it noisily meanders through the water.
Using a lure that combines all three of these will imitate a wounded baitfish as it bounces off of cover, like stumps and trees, and alerts all of the local bass of its presence through its vibrations.
Spinner Baits For Bass In 40-50 Degree Water
Although spinner baits are synonymous with summer bass fishing in shallower waters, they can be great options for hooking bass in 40-50 degree water. Since you will be fishing deeper than normal, using a spinner that can create a lot of commotion while moving slowly is key.
Utilizing spinners with Colorado or Indiana blades is a great way to achieve this because they create so much sound and vibration as they spin through the water.
Colors like gold and silver will further alert bass of their presence by catching any sunlight that is present.
Modifying the size of the spinner will also help you hook finicky bass. Most people use a larger lure to get down deeper, but this isn’t the only option you can try.
Larger spinners will be easier to get into deeper water, but will need to be retrieved faster to stay off of the bottom.
Smaller spinners will take more time to get deep, but can be retrieved at a slower pace, which is ideal when bass are sluggish in 40-50 degree water.
Though spring and winter aren’t usually considered prime times for bass fishing, they can certainly produce some worthwhile fish. You may not catch as many bass as you would in the summer, but successfully hooking one in 40-50 degree water is all that more satisfying.
Modifying your approach by seeking out warmer water, fishing slower, and using the correct type of lures will be more than enough to make your next early or late season bass fishing day a memorable one.