Top 3 winter bass baits

Wintertime bass fishing can be tough, and that can cause anglers to look for all kinds of gimmicks and off-the-wall tactics to get bites.

But bass pro Brian Latimer said it’s actually a time to settle down.

“A lot of my stuff is so basic, but that’s what works,” Latimer said.

Here are the South Carolina pro’s Top 3 baits he has to have when he’s probing around for cold-water bass.

1. Z-Man Chatterbait

“I absolutely have to have a ChatterBait,” Latimer said.

That’s because the vibrating jigs are extremely effective when winter rains send stained waters into the system he’s fishing.

“You need something that pushes a lot of water and puts off vibration so fish can find it,” Latimer said.

Of course, it’s also a bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water to pick up scattered bass.

“And it’s a good bait for big fish,” he said.

He said the propensity for the lure to run shallow during a normal retrieve means anglers can nab fish that are pulled up on flats when the water warms up as the sun reaches its zenith.

“Don’t forget that shallow zone,” Latimer said. “Even when it’s cold fish will be in water 2 feet or less.”

But there’s more to the lure than that.

“I can fish that shallow zone, but I can also slow down and fish (a ChatterBait) 6 to 8 feet deep,” Latimer explained.

2. Medium-diving crankbait

Latimer said crankbaits that effectively cover the 6- to 8-foot depths offer the ability to pick up bass pulled back off the shallows.

But the lures offer an important advantage during this time of year.

“The fish are kind of spread out through the system that time of year,” Latimer said. “I can cover tons and tons of water with those crankbaits.”

That means he can quickly run down a bank or riprap and pick up scattered fish, but he can also pick apart an area when the need arises.

“When I get to that sweet spot, I can slow down and fish it thoroughly,” Latimer said.

3. Z-Man ZinkerZ

Soft-plastic stick baits don’t have any discernible action, but Latimer said they are incredibly effective tools during the winter doldrums.

“It’s one of the dumbest things you’ve ever seen, but (the lure) definitely works,” he said.

Flexibility is the chief advantage to the lure.

“There’s just so many rigging options: I can fish it weightless wacky, Texas-rig it, shaky-head it, wacky shot,” Latimer said.

Of course, some anglers hate soft-plastic stick baits because of their reputation as being slow-falling lures.

“It does take a lot of patience,” Latimer said. “But don’t underestimate the amount of water you can cover with them. Usually, a fish is going to get it on the fall, so if I pick it up and (a fish) doesn’t have it I can just reel in and move on.”

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Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.