UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

How to Catch Winter Spotted Bass

How to Catch Winter Spotted Bass
Rob Jordan

Some of the best fishing of the year in the South occurs on the reservoirs with spotted bass in Georgia and the Carolinas. As a guide on Lake Lanier, FLW Tour pro Rob Jordan is adept at staying on the spots all winter. He knows when to fish deep or go shallow, and how to apply a jigging spoon, jig, underspin and crankbait to take full advantage of the opportunities.

“There are three really predominant patterns in the wintertime,” says Jordan. “They don’t all go deep. Certainly, a big population of them does spend the wintertime out there, but not always. There’s basically a shallow deal, a midrange deal and a deep deal.”

 

What is a ditch?

Before embarking on any wintertime fishing adventure, understanding the terminology is important. On lakes like Hartwell and Lanier, a lot of the fishing revolves around “ditches.”

“To me, a ditch just means the middle,” says Jordan. “A productive ditch can be found anywhere. Fishing in creeks is usually the best place to get started, because it’s easier to define the ditch. In the back half of the creeks you can define a lot more ditches. The rest of the year we’re focused on the points and the humps and so forth. It’s the opposite in the winter.”

Fishing ditches requires you to venture off the bank a bit more than usual, but because of the way many spotted bass reservoirs set up, you aren’t miles from the bank like you would be for truly offshore fishing.

“The water out there is stable,” explains Jordan. “They’re there because the bait is there. It can be raining or snowing or whatever, and they’re going to be comfortable.

“Productive ditches can be found on the main lake, but it’s difficult,” Jordan adds. “A lot of times, if you do find them [on the main lake], that’s where you’re going to find your biggest ones. Those fish in the main lake are typically your bigger class of fish, and they don’t migrate far for anything.”

 

Go deep with a jigging spoon

Fishing deep in ditches and over timber is one of Jordan’s favorite ways to catch spotted bass in the winter, especially for catching numbers.

“To me it’s the most consistent way to target them,” says Jordan. “They’re out deep from now until March. It can stay productive all the way until early spring.”

Typically, the search starts with his Lowrance electronics in the middle of ditches that bottom out in 40 to 60 feet of water.

“Many times you’ll find those fish where the timber stops, and at a lake like Lanier the timber stops at about 40 feet,” says Jordan. “At other lakes the depth range where the trees stop will be different, but they’ll still gravitate to the shallow side of that timber edge.

“One thing that’s a dead giveaway is if you see bait. If you start seeing bait there’s gonna be bass around – even if you don’t mark bass. Sometimes you’ve got to fish an area for 15 or 20 minutes and see what happens when you get up on your trolling motor.”

Once he finds bass, Jordan likes to vertically jig a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce jigging spoon or back off a bit and go finesse with a light jig (3/8 ounce), a light drop-shot with a 3 3/4-inch Z-Man StreakZ, a Z-Man ZinkerZ with a nail weight or on a Ned rig.

“People associate deep water with heavy baits, but it’s sometimes the opposite,” says Jordan. “Those fish are cold, and it’s deep. You want to keep it in front of their face as long as you can. You can watch a guy fishing deep timber, and he’ll be dropping a nail-weighted Senko down 50 feet. There’ve been local tournaments won by guys throwing 3/16-ounce jigs in 50 feet of water. You don’t want it to fall right past them faster than they can get on it.

“One of those five techniques will work any given day,” he adds. “One thing is that light penetration is a big deal. I’m not saying you can’t, but it’s hard to catch them on a cloudy day. They’re down 30 or 40 feet, so they need a little light to be able to see what’s going on and track it.”

 

Fish an underspin

More on the middepth side of things, Jordan likes to rely on the time-honored underspin.

“You heard a lot about it when they had the Classic at Hartwell,” says Jordan. “First thing in the morning, fish will gravitate toward the back of the ditches, and on a cloudy day they’ll stay in that range all day long. You can still catch those fish on a jig and worm, but the most productive way to fish is to throw a Fish Head Spin.”

Jordan’s underspin setup is simple: a 3/8-ounce Fish Head Spin Underspin and a 4-inch Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ. As a changeup, he’ll toss either a deep jerkbait or a single swimbait on a 3/16- or 1/4-ounce head.

Typically, Jordan is targeting fish that are sitting on the bottom in around 20 feet of water. He works down the middle of a ditch and fan-casts.

“It’s good in the morning, but it’s a good alternative thing too,” explains Jordan. “If you went out last weekend and found some fish on a sunny day with a jigging spoon, you can slide up and look for some fish in the 20-foot range if it’s cloudy and they aren’t biting.  It’s also good farther up the lake. The deep timber fishing is typically in the real clean water. Those fish in the water that’s a little dirtier up the lake, or farther back in the creeks, will gravitate toward the shallower water.”

If the fish don’t want an underspin for some reason, then the swimbait is a solid option. If they’re suspended, a jerkbait fished with long pauses can catch ’em.

For the swimmy and the underspin, keeping the bait on the bottom is paramount, and using a reel with a low gear ratio helps a lot.

“The key thing is keeping it on the bottom,” says Jordan. “If you’re throwing a small swimbait or a Fish Head, you want it to be on the bottom. You need to keep it moving, but making bottom contact. It’s deadly for that midrange ditch fishing.”

 

Try shallow rock

One of Jordan’s best tactics for catching big spotted bass is to throw a crankbait or a jig on rock.

“Rocks are great places to find spotted bass,” he says. “Rock points, bluff walls and things of that nature can be really good in the wintertime, not only for catching numbers, but for catching big ones. You hear a lot about spotted bass eating herring, but there’s not much tastier than a crawfish. That’s what those fish on rock are eating.”

Jordan likes to target rock that’s fairly steep and near deep water, often on points or the sides of points. Typically, he’s fishing his bait in 6 to 20 feet depending on the situation, but sometimes his boat might be in 40 feet. One wintertime tip is to fish the sunnier side of the lake. Though the water may only be a tick warmer, Jordan says it’s still worth chasing that higher temperature.

For baits, Jordan will bust out a Ned rig from time to time, but really likes to throw a jig or a crankbait. His jig of choice is a Z-Man CrosseyeZ Finesse Jig, and he’ll toss a variety of crankbaits – everything from a Rapala DT 6 to a Storm Wiggle Wart to a Strike King 6XD. He usually uses crawfish colors or red, but occasionally shad patterns, too.

Though he won’t catch nearly the numbers on rock as he does out deep, Jordan says this pattern can be a good way to win a derby or put a big fish or two in the boat.

 

Go fishing

Because spotted bass are more aggressive than largemouths, fishing can be very good all winter. If you’re up to the challenge of the conditions, you can have some truly banner days and not have to mess around much with boat traffic. It’s also good training, because spotted bass only seem to be getting more predominant throughout the South, and you’re going to have to catch them in a tournament eventually.

Tags: pro-tips-weekly  -spotted-bass  -underspin  -lake-lanier  jody-white  article 

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

When FLW pro Alex Davis isn’t hunting trophy bucks in the fall, he spends a lot of days fishing for big bass that are binging on shad in the reservoirs of north Alabama. In particular, fall is a killer time to fish jerkbaits with high-speed, aggressive tactics in clear-water reservoirs for spotted bass – for both size and numbers. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with South Carolina pro Bradford Beavers.  READ MORE »

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

“It’s almost like a wintertime pattern already,” Salzman says. “It’s kind of interesting. Because it’s been so hot and then so cold, the fish kind of got into the mouths of the creeks this year and never fully pushed into them. The majority of the bait is on the main lake on every lake in Alabama. The water temp was falling so quickly that the back bays were too cold, so the most stable water is on the main lake.” READ MORE »

2020 FLW Pro Circuit Schedule and Details

2020 FLW Pro Circuit Schedule and Details

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), announced today the full details, including rules, entry dates, schedules and the location for the 2020 Championship. The circuit will feature a field of 150 pro anglers competing across seven regular-season tournaments, which culminate to the FLW TITLE. A new event, the TITLE will showcase the top 50 pros from the FLW Pro Circuit regular season as they compete for an $820,000 purse. READ MORE »

FLW Marshal Registration Now Open

FLW Marshal Registration Now Open

How would you like to experience the FLW Pro Circuit on the water with the world’s top bass anglers fishing for the sport’s biggest payouts? Now you can. Registration for the FLW Marshal program opened today for anyone who participated in the Marshal program last season. New Marshals can sign up beginning on Friday, Nov. 22.   READ MORE »

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead. READ MORE »

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Weighing limits of 15 pounds, 13 ounces on day one and 15-3 on day two, Michael Miller of Greenville, S.C., overcame a tough-fishing Kentucky Lake to win the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card and qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

2019 BFL AOY Winners

2019 BFL AOY Winners

The T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) has long been one of the hardest-fought grassroots tournament circuits and the breeding ground for future pros and local legends. With five tournaments in each division, anglers have to contend against the best in their local area, often fishing against full-time guides or local anglers with dozens of tournament wins to their name on a given body of water. As such, winning the season-long Angler of the Year title in one of the 24 divisions is a monumental feat, something that only a couple BFL anglers have done more than a few times. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Missouri pro Jeremy Lawyer.  READ MORE »

Adrian College Wins School of the Year

Adrian College Wins School of the Year

The bass-fishing club at Adrian College is the best in the country, capping off the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing season in first place overall with 2,350 points, and earning the team the title of 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National School of the Year.  READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 4 Airs Wednesday

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 4 Airs Wednesday

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 4 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

Smith says that the best time for fall largemouth fishing happens after the first big cold snap, when the water finally drops below 60 degrees.   READ MORE »

Olson Scouts Cumberland

Olson Scouts Cumberland

At just 19 years old, Lane Olson is fishing in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Were he from Alabama or Texas or any number of other southern states known for their bass fishing, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But Olson is schlepping all the way to Kentucky from Oregon, where he finished second in the Western Division Angler of the Year standings, missing out on the top spot by just one point. READ MORE »

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Davidson, a West Virginia native, qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship out of the Northern Division and has fished the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division quite a bit. He’s spent a lot of time on Cumberland and nearby Dale Hollow in the cooler months. As such, he’s one of a handful that pundits are definitely keeping an eye on heading into the championship, and he was kind enough to let me tag along for part of the second practice day on the Kentucky reservoir. READ MORE »

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The ninth largest reservoir in the U.S., Lake Cumberland is a perfect stage for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Home to all three bass species and over 1000 miles of shoreline, the lake can swallow up a big field with relative ease, and with the fall bite starting to pick up in earnest and the water level lower than usual, the fishing should be pretty good. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live is back for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky. The event will feature daily weigh-in broadcasts, as well as the full FLW Live studio broadcast, with live feeds from top anglers' boats, on the final two days. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Series Schedule and Details

2020 FLW Series Schedule and Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced the expanded 2020 FLW Series details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts. READ MORE »

2020 T-H Marine BFL Schedules and Details

2020 T-H Marine BFL Schedules and Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced the 202 BFL details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Series and BFL Details

2020 FLW Series and BFL Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced today the expanded 2020 FLW Series and T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts, highlighted by lower entry fees in both circuits and an expanded FLW Series schedule, along with upping the FLW Series Championship payout to $200,000 for first place and adding a $10,000 bonus for the highest-finishing pro from each of the eight U.S. FLW Series divisions and the International Division. READ MORE »

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare loves to fish. A lot. And he’s fished in 20 FLW events so far in 2019. His 21st will be the Costa FLW Series Championship at Lake Cumberland at the end of October, at which he hopes to earn his first win in FLW competition. READ MORE »