Ultra Light Winter Fishing
Hooray... Winter... The most rotten time of the year, especially for us anglers. Many of us are waiting for the first signs of spring by crossing days off the calendar, rigging... then re-rigging kayaks, tying flies, cleaning and re-spooling reels, and organizing tackle... over and over again. Other than spending time with our loved ones, it's the toughest time of the year and fishing is no exception.
Here in the Southeast, while we do not have it nearly as bad as our brethren in the Northeast, but Mother Nature can still play havoc on us down here as well. We can quickly go from a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the mid 70's, to a cold front being pushed southward bringing the next day’s air temps into the mid 40's at launch with sustained winds into the 15-20 mph range (not fun). Fish, especially Bass, have no clue what to do... run the shallows looking for forage or head deeper and wait for air temps to remain consistently warmer before returning to shallower water. One thing is for sure, these changes keep us anglers guessing, and these ever-changing conditions can often send us home with a "skunk". After having my share of these "Fish-less" days, I decided it was time to have a "contingency" plan and this plan is simply called "Ultra Light".
I decided to increase my chances of a hook-up on every trip by keeping a very simple presentation handy. I have 5'6" UL Manley Black Ops Spinning Rod paired with a Shimano Symetre 500 spooled with 2-pound test (WARNING! Tying 2-pound mono requires steady hands and strong eyes... or good glasses). My two "Go-To" baits are a 412 Bait Co. Stinger Fry on a 1/64 oz. VMC Pug Pug for shallow water presentation and a 412 Bait Co. Free Minnow on a 1/32 oz. VMC Pug Pug for deeper water presentation.
Using the Ultra Light technique is simple and there are a variety of ways to do it. You can find structure and drop the bait vertically and simply "jig it" or you could locate drop off's and cast the bait just beyond the drop off and let it slowly sink, make sure to watch your line! Many times, the fish will grab it on the fall and simply flutter away with it. To help see these bites, I use a "High Vis" yellow Panfish line from Vicious Fishing and have often seen the line start to slightly move in another direction, and I knew I had one on. Another technique to try is to cast the smaller baits, which mimic small fry or even tadpoles, beyond grassy points and slowly retrieve the bait right back over the point. This will often lure a hungry Bream from within the bed to feed. These techniques are not only simple, but using Ultra Light tackle makes catching any fish, even smaller fish, an absolute blast to catch! A one-pound fish can feel like an eight-pound fish and this can make an unproductive trip a fun and exciting one.
Don't be fooled though! It's not only smaller fish that go after these tasty little morsels though, larger "weary" Bass may also jump on one of these baits and that will be a fight you’ll remember! So, the next time you head out to the water, try keeping an Ultra Light combo at the ready. You never know what can happen, it may just help turn your day and your frown around!
- FishOn ProStaff