Winter Bass Fishing Water Level Changes with Capt. Mike Gerry

January 10, 2020
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Water levels in winter are constant and unpredictable, making it crucial for fisherman to adjust their fishing techniques. As water levels rise, fish migrate to new areas, while when they drop, they group together. Rattle traps are effective baits in rising water, with color being crucial. Clear water near the bank is also beneficial. In falling water, crank bait is a good choice, but angle is important for successful bites.

As we move into winter the one thing that seems to be common on all lakes is the constant

change of water levels. As the winter is generally the wettest time and it is easy to get rain of

2 or 3 inches, change is constant and dealing with it is key. You go out one day and the water

is up two feet and then the next it is down three feet. The key is what do you as a fisherman,

do to adjust your fishing technique to the change of water levels? The first thing you must

understand is what happens to the fish as the level of water changes. Its also no secret that

the cold temperatures adjust their habits so dealing with water levels is just the beginning of

changes you must make to be successful.

Most pros believe that as the water level raises the fish scatter out, they migrate individually

to areas that may be totally new territory like up into parking lots and picnic areas as they

become flooded. The opposite occurs when the water is dropping the fish tend to group up or

concentrate together on points and channel edges and grass lines; the fish will quickly move

off the flats and shallow coves. Couple that with temperature change that affects the water

temp and you must make some calculated changes until you find active fish.

The idea of rising water brings into play some great reaction presentations as there is

probably no better winter bait than a rattle trap and this becomes my bait of choice in rising

water. An important part of using rattle baits during rising water is to consider color as a very

important part of bait choice. Rising water is generally muddy from the rain making it

necessary to fish reds or purples or bright chartreuse to make sure your bait is seen during

this muddy time period. One thing that rising water presents to the fisherman is areas of

clear water near the bank, most water is stained but if you can find clear water, I believe a

bite is next, especially if the clear water is within a few feet of the bank. In falling water there

is no better bait than crank bait digging the bottom off points or along the edges of grass

lines? Once you locate fish in dropping water levels you can really load the boat in a small

concentrated area with crank bait. Remember angles mean everything when fishing a crank

bait so be aware of your boat position when you to get a successful bite and repeat that

position to add more bites and fish to your bag.

Another area that I find fish during the winter that coincides with rising and falling water

levels is shell beds. Shell beds are wintertime heavens for winter bass and they generally

have fluid depth changes around them. Shell beds because of current generally spread up and

down under water depth changes, like in the top of ledges and then off to the deepest part.

This change of depth gives you the ideal winter spot as the fish would be on top of it during

the high water time and down near the bottom during the low water time making a shell bed

the best of winter rainy season spots to find fish.

Lastly the key to changing water level is covering ground until you figure out a pattern and

nothing does that better than search baits; so cover plenty of water quickly and you will be

able to zero in on the bites when you get them!

Learn bass fishing techniques with these videos

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service


Phone: 256 759 2270

Captain Mike Gerry

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Mike Gerry In The Spread, Instructor
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