No one likes getting onto a lake for a day without getting a bite! This could well be the case on some of our dams and lakes, especially here on the High veld during the winter months. It is for this reason we should learn to fish deep structure, and by deep we mean deeper than 4 meters.
Where to fish.
Points: Fish tend to school off deep points and during warmer periods may migrate up these points in search of bait fish that are also enjoying the warmer period. Here Carolina rigged plastics can be fished to cover pretty much the entire point from deep to shallow relatively quickly.
Humps: Humps are magnets for both summer and winter bass. A bonus would be if the hump you have discovered has a combination of timber, rock and vegetation on it. Deep diving crank baits are favoured for probing these humps. Once you have plotted your humps, begin by using a crank bait that just skims the shallowest sections of the hump. After saturating the area with casts move onto a deeper diving crank bait and begin bumping into the structure, your lure should attract a strike. Also try using a jig like Goya’s Fancy Football, crawl the jig along the bottom and slowly shake the bait as it hits something solid on the bottom.
Ledges: These areas can be perfect for schooling bass. The transition from shallow to deep is a very short distance so ledges are also ideal hang-outs for trophy size fish. Large spinner baits slow rolled down the staircases of a ledge, as well as hopping a Football jig down will soon determine the feeding depth of the bass. Once you have figured this out you are able to target similar areas to get a solid pattern going. Mokolo Dam up in the Limpopo province is a perfect venue for walking a jig down the ledges. At times a change to walking your bait UP the ledge may be just what Mr. Bass wants.
Deep Standing trees: Big trees standing in deep water at certain times of the year hold fish. These fish may be targeted with an array of baits, but anglers experimenting with rigs like the ‘Shaky Head’ or ‘Drop Shot’ may be pleasantly surprised. Bass positioned at the base of these trees will quickly eat a shaky head finesse bait presented tight up against the tree trunks. If the fish are holding against the timber up from the bottom, a drop shot rig may be deployed to try and get the feeding depth. Try the shady side of a tree if the water is very clear, also check if they may be a current present, this may determine where you place your bait. Also determine whether birds nest or perch in these trees.
River Channels and Bars: These areas are especially effective if there is a current flowing. Bass sometimes bunch up in these areas and feed on bait fish that use the current as cover. Here weightless plastic jerk baits would be the number one lure of choice. Try to match the hatch with regards to colour and size of the bait. The natural presentation of these baits could be deadly on a school of bass.
Pay careful attention to your sonar equipment and save these co-ordinates. By putting the effort in to dissecting and understanding deep structure one can be rewarded with quantity and quality bass. If the structure you have found is not visible or known to other anglers the fishing could be great season after season.
Baits: Bass this time of year are lethargic and your baits should be fished as so. Football Jigs, like Goya’s Football jigs, are a key bait right now, fish are keying more on crabs rather than other fish species and a jig matches them best. Texas rigged plastic also do well this time of year. Creature baits like Netbaits Paca Craw and Baby Action cat with a Goya Pro-Tungsten weight are deadly when dragged along the ledges and pitched along the sides of deep trees. If you are in the warmer parts of the country like KZN bass still feed on bait fish profile platics like Netbaits 4” Super/Twitch and the Lil’ Spanky. You can fish these numerous ways, i.e, on a Mojo, Carolina, Texas or weightless rig. Fish these in the same places you would a jig and creature. These baits will produce when the fishing is tough.
Remember winter fishing for bass can be slow, so no need to get up at the crack of dawn with your best fishing times starting from 9am-3pm. If you are patient you will get your just reward and possibly your PB .