Catching bass in 40-degree water is not something that is always easy but it is something that is very possible! This is also one of the best times to catch the biggest bass of the year, which makes fishing very exciting. There is just something way more accomplishing about catching a big bass in cold water.
In lakes, rivers and ponds that are in the South, bass fishing 40 degree water is going to be more difficult because the bass are not used to water temperatures that low. However, States where the water temperatures are in the 40s and 30s throughout the winter, bass can be readily caught in water temps in the 40 degree range.
Cold Water Bass Metabolism
One of the most important things to know about cold water bass is that a bass’s metabolism slows as a water temperature starts the dip. Therefore they do not need to eat as often as they do during the summer when the water temperatures are higher.
So the reason it can be a little more tricky to catch bass during cold water months, is because there is simply not as many hungry bass roaming around looking for food!
Lower 40s (40-43 Degrees)
One of the biggest ingredients to bass fishing 40 degree water is by finding clear water.
The water does not have to be crystal clear but you definitely want 2+ feet of visibility in order to catch more bass.
Catching bass in 40 degree water when it is highly stained or muddy is not impossible but it can be much more difficult. Therefore, the first step to catching bass when the water is in the low 40s is by find the cleanest and clearest water you can.
Lures for Lower 40s
Two lures that I would highly recommend when the water temperature is in the low 40s are a suspending jerkbait and a blade bait. However, with both of these lures you’re going to want to fish extremely slow!
1. Suspending Jerkbait
When it comes to fishing a jerkbait, you’re going to want to use the lightest line you can get away with, typically 8 to 10 lb test fluorocarbon. This is going to allow your jerkbait to get the deepest which is very important with super cold water.
After casting the lure, crank the jerkbait down to the deepest it’ll dive, this will probably happen after about 10-15 full turns of your reel. Then twitch your jerkbait twice and let it sit for 10 to 20 seconds, then twitch it twice again. Continue to repeat this all the way back to the boat or shoreline, depending on where you are fishing.
The jerkbait is going to look like a dying Shad to a non-aggressive bass and they are typically going to hit that jerkbait while it is just sitting there suspended in the water column for 10-20 seconds.
Two locations I am going to target when it comes to cold water jerkbait fishing is points with deepwater close by and channel swing banks.
These areas are both going to give a bass easy up and down locations where they can have both comfort and food.
2. Blade Bait (Silver Buddy)
When it comes to fishing a blade bait, again, you want to fish this slower than you would at any time of the year. You’re almost going to work a blade bait more like a jig than you anything else.
Cast the blade bait out and let it fall to the bottom, then slowly hop the lure off the bottom and let it fall on a slack line. You are going to fish this so slow that you will even let it sit on the bottom for a second or two in between hops.
It is important not to hop the bait overly aggressive off the bottom. You’re just going to want to raise the blade bait a couple of feet off the bottom and then let it fall on a slackline. The bass are going to eat that blade bait when it falls. This is going to mimic a dying bait fish!
Mid 40s (44-46 Degrees)
While finding clean water when the temperature is in the lower 40 degree range, once you get to the mid 40 degree range the bass are going to start to become more active and you are able to catch them in dirtier water. I still wouldn’t suggest fishing super muddy water but you will be able to catch them in water clarity around 8 in to 2 ft.
While the bass are still becoming more active during this time you still don’t want to fish your lures too quickly!
Two lures that I’m going to suggest during this water temp are both crankbaits. A square bill crankbait like a KVD 1.5 is going to work well in more stained water and a Rapala DT6 is going to work better in a little cleaner water.
3. Square Bill Crankbait For Muddy Water
When water clarity is 10in to 18in I’m going to recommend fishing the square-bill crankbait. This is going to put off good vibration in order for a bass to track down the lure in dirtier water. It is really hard to beat anything other than a red square bill crankbait during this time of the year.
You can catch fish in just a few feet of water during these water temps, but it is very important to have deep water close to these areas. This allows a bass to slide off into deep water at night when that water temperature falls how, and then slide back to the shallow water during the day when the sun is starting to heat water temps.
4. Rapala DT6
The other crankbait that I am going to suggest to use is a Rapala DT6. If you have water clarity that is greater than 18in this is going to be my lure of choice in the mid 40 degree range.
This is probably one of the best cold water crankbaits that has ever been made. There are no rattles in this lure and it has a tight wiggling action which is great for cold water bass. Again, using a red colored or craw colored crankbait is extremely hard to beat during this time of the year.
With both of these lures it is extremely important to maintain bottom contact. Let the crankbaits bounce off the bottom and deflect off of cover. This will cause the bass to react to a crankbait going by, even if they are not hungry
Upper 40s (47-49 Degrees)
Once the water temps rise to the upper 40s, bass can be found in pretty shallow water. They can also be caught in clear to muddy water now! I have caught many bass in water clarity less than 6in when the water temperature is in the upper 40-degree range!
Vibration is Key
The biggest thing that you were going to want to concentrate on when the water is in this range is vibration. Where vibration and water displacement is really going to allow a bass to track your lure down in highly stained or muddy water.
5. Colorado Blade Spinnerbait
The number one lure that I choose in this situation is a colorado blade spinnerbait.
A spinnerbait like this can be fished anywhere, but I’m going to start specifically targeting shallow water cover like rock and wood.
A colorado blade has a very large thump which the bass seem to be very attracted to during this time of the year when the water is in the upper 40s.
Again, although I’m going to target shallow water in this water temperature range, I still like to have deep water close by.
All in all, the next time you are bass fishing 40 degree water try some of these lures and see if you can catch the biggest bass of your life!
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Check out other cold water bass fishing tips on BassResource!