Fishing report: Wintertime largemouth bass
We’ve cracked the 50s.
While high country anglers long ago experienced water temperatures below 60 degrees, a report of water temperatures cracking the 50s has come from Bartlett Lake in the Tonto National Forest, where temps on Friday were 59 degrees. See the latest lake levels from SRP.
“Fishing was real slow Friday (at Bartlett),” said Gary Senft, Bass Pro at the Mesa BassPro Shops. “One way I could catch fish was using small bait, like 4-inch worms. You can do some jigging, maybe catch 1-2 fish on a jig. If you get some daylight you can get some fish on crankbaits.”
Try fishing afternoons or when the sun’s out long enough to cause a slight rise in water temperatures–this might trigger a window of feeding activity. Try small baits fished deep on Texas rigs, dropshots, and Carolina rigs.
With slow winter bites, it’s crucial to stay positive and be ready for when bass bite. That means setting the hook with the slightest tug.
“If you feel a bite,” Senft said, “don’t look at your friend and say, “Hey, I think I just got a bite.’ Because that bite will be long gone.”
Some other tips: don’t use heavy rods so you can actually feel that bite. Go with a medium rod with a fast tip, or a medium-light rod. Weights should be 1/8 to 3/16 ounces. Texas rigs will be a good option since bass at many impoundments are holding near or directly on the bottom.
Bartlett bass report
At Bartlett Lake, most bass are in 15-25 feet of water. “Shad are all in different places, too,” Senft said. “Once you find them, stay in that area. If you don’t know where to find the fish, fish point after point.”
Those without a depth finder, such as some kayak anglers, can scan shoreline features, looking for points that protrude into the water. It follows that these points will extend into the water column at the same, or similar, angle. Typically rocky shorelines also mean rocky underwater bottoms.