Open-water envy during mid-winter’s Bassmaster Classic?
Hit hardwater for untapped largemouth bass opportunities.
Climate change – is there really such a thing? Yet, just a full day’s driving towards the Equator from the Ice Belt and it may seem a reality, especially right now. Ice, no-ice.
While there’s no denying that northern ice-covered natural lakes seem a world apart from the open water impoundments in the Deep South this time of year, they share something we can all agree on: largemouth bass.
Hard to believe, but as the best bass anglers in the world are fishing the Bassmaster Classic each year in February—ice anglers are needlessly overlooking an epic hardwater adversary in their own backyards.
Intentionally targeting largemouth bass though the ice, you ask? If the state your favorite bass lake is in has an open season, then by all means give a try to bass ice fishing.
“While most ice anglers are chasing walleyes, pike and panfish through the ice right now, largemouth bass are being virtually ignored,” says Custom Jigs & Spins’ pro staffer Loren Keiser. “They fight as hard as any big fish can and are fun to catch for the whole family.”
Keiser’s top ploy for hardwater largies are jigs he can fish slow and low. Finesse baits like Custom Jigs & Spins’ Ratso and Shrimpo tipped with larvae or waxies fit this tactic to a tee.
If the bass decide they want more flash and a larger profile, Keizer’s next go-to maneuver is to fool them with the flare of the 1/8-ounce Pro Series Slender Spoon. Or, if tight-lipped – as they can be in post-frontal conditions – he’ll change things up by “going finesse” with a Custom Jigs & Spins tungsten Majmun with several Micronoodels (or full-size Noodels) hooked wacky style. “I like purple, blue and black. They’re go-to colors in open water and on the ice.”
Keizer continues: “It’s much like fishing a Senko in open water. By hooking the Noodel or Micronoodel in the middle, both ends get flapping on the fall, just irresistible to bass. Then add the tungsten Majmun and it’s able to penetrate weeds without getting hung up. Deadly.”
So, why let the Bass Elite have all the fun in mid winter? Opportunities to catch bass abound throughout the Ice Belt. Regardless of the differences in latitude, fact is, there’s a good chance that the bass you catch through the ice would be prized in livewells of the sport’s biggest names.