Winter in Texas. It is typically the time many of us start thinking about hitting up the Guad for some trout, or maybe just time to stay inside and sip coffee, hot chocolate, or whiskey. But, in spite of all that (and maybe because of all that) winter is also a great time to get out and fly fish for bass.
Winter is the time to fly fish for BIG largemouth bass. Looking back at data from the ShareLunker Program, by far the best months to catch BIG (13+ pound largemouth bass) are January, February, and March. Over the last four years, five fish over 13 pounds have been submitted in January, eleven in February, and 23 in March. The next highest total is June with three, and no other month producing more than one since 2018.
So, let me break down my winter bass fly fishing tips/ticks for you here.
In years when the weather is mild early in the winter, the water won’t cool off as fast and the bass tend to hang onto their Late Fall Patterns (click the link for more info.) This is definitely a time of year to throw big streamers (again click that link for more info on late fall streamers) like Clouser Minnows and Bass Hook Baitfish.
In years that it cools off sooner, the water cools down faster and will push the bass into their winter patterns sooner. Early winter can be your best shot to catch “numbers” of bigger fish, but maybe not the biggest. The fishes metabolisms hasn’t started slowing down too much, and the fish are still typically actively feeding. This is when I love to fish big flies! Big gamechangers, big flies like what I call the Deep Half & Half & Half, and large Bucktail Clousers are my go-to flies this time of year. Start fishing these a little slower and deeper than you would in the fall.
Deep Half & Half & HalfBucktail Clouser
Bass usually really start moving into winter patterns in January. Fish will typically move deeper (depth can vary based on the overall depth and clarity of the body of water you are fishing.) If I am fishing a new body of water, I usually follow these rules to find winter bass:
- If the water is clear, find the deepest structure/cover you can find and then work up in the water column from there.
- If the water dirtier, I start shallower and work deeper until I find fish. (Dirty water will keep baitfish shallower)
- If their is a strong current, find deep water and breaks in the current. Flowing water is usually cooler and requires more of the fishes energy to stay in.
- Fish slow, if that doesn’t work, fish slower. If that doesn’t work, fish erratic.
- Start with big flies, then downsize if you are not catching.
- Shad patterns are often the best.
Marabou ClouserDownsizing to a fly that has movement when sitting still can be deadly in the winter.
Crawfish BiteImproved SMP (Sunfish)