How to fish in the winter (and be successful)?

How to fish in the winter - Winter fishing

Table of Contents

How to fish in the winter (and be successful)?

While fishing in the summer is an excellent time for our greatest hobby. The temperature in the mornings is proper. The water is warm enough to enjoy it, even during the nights. And we can even take our kids with us to enjoy our great fishing hobby as well. However, when the winter is coming, the water is freezing. The clothes that we need to wear make us fell clumsy, while we take all the fishing gear along with us to the lake or beach.

So if you want to fish in the winter and enjoy it, you must read this post about fishing in the winter.

But, fishing at the winter has its own advantages, advantages that you won’t find in any other season.

While in the summer you can catch a lot of fish, in the winter you will catch less. However, if you will work properly, the size of the fish that you will catch in the winter can be much bigger.

What are the advantages of fishing in the winter?

As there are disadvantages as well, however, fishing in the winter can be very rewarding compared to the summer.

In the winter, you should expect to catch the biggest fish in the year. Also, you will have a better peace of mind, that is since many people won’t go out fishing due to the cold weather. So you can expect to dream of being alone at the lake without anyone disturbing you.

How to fish in the winter - Fishing alone
How to fish in the winter – Fishing alone

Prepare yourself to winter fishing

On the contrary to summer fishing, you will need to prepare yourself for a cold journey. The temperature will be colder than any other place. That is since the lake or a beach is a wide open place, so the winds are not going to be blocked by the buildings and other structures you have in the city. And if that is not enough, fishing is not a blood pumping sports. You are not going to move often, so remember to dress up in warm clothes.

In addition to warm clothes, get yourself waterproof shoes, fishing gloves, and waterproof pants. Getting wet in the winter is not a pleasant experience. I remember one of my friends joining me to fish in the winter. It was his first time to go fishing. I offered him a wader, but he refused. Eventually his shoes and lower part of his pants got wet. I remember he got so cold that he was shaking from cold. And since it was his first time to go fishing, that was his last time as well.

So, it is essential to keep your body warmth during fishing. It does not worth getting ill for it.

Last, bring with you a thermos with a well prepared hot coffee, or any other hot drink that you like to drink. Having a hot drink during the fishing will allow yourself to stay for longer hours, hours that can make the difference of having that desired catch.

Why is it more difficult to fish in the winter?

So why fishing in the winter isn’t easy like it is in the summer? Well, let’s assume that you want to make a coffee. You go to the kitchen, and you find out that you ran out of coffee. Well, solving this problem is very easy. You go to the nearest grocery store and buy coffee. It’s easy, Isn’t? Of course, it is right. But let’s assume that it is also freezing outside and raining heavily. Will it be it worthy enough as you though just a few seconds ago? Most changes that you will regret wanting to drink coffee and you will consider drinking tea. Going outside at the winter makes us lazier, and for the same reason, the fish acts the same way. The fish are very lazy in the winter.

Prepare for the big ones

Having that said, let’s go back to the previous example of the coffee. Eventually, you will go to the grocery store to have the coffee. But whenever you will go there, your grocery list will be longer and more accurate – and that to minimize the number of times you will need to go there again. And like you, the same are the fish. After all, the fish will need to eat eventually. So, whenever it will happen they will try to be more effective. They will look for their greatest meal at the least effort possible.

Big lures = Big Fish

So, since it is cold, if you want the fish to make the required effort, big lures will provide them with the reason for it.

But remember that during the winter, the fish are lazy. So, if you will move the lure too fast, it means that the fish needs to put big effort. And I will say that again, the fish during the winter don’t like to put an effort – unless it worth it.

So, my first to you is to use big soft plastic lures and to move them slowly.

How to fish in the winter - Big soft plastic lure
How to fish in the winter – Big soft plastic lure

What kind of lures to use in the winter?

The fish in the winter will school in the lower areas. So you need to search for them in the deepest places.

Hence, using the top-waters lures is not going to be effective.

You need to use sinking lures which will be able to dive in and stimulate the fish.

Depends on your choice, I would go with lures that have a shape of a shad. If you decide to use soft plastics, which I highly recommend, use bright colors, or transparent color with flakes. Soft plastics in the shape of worms, grubs, crawlers should be very good. And if you decide to use spoons, crankbaits or spinners, use shiny colors like silver or gold.

Soft plastic lures, on the other hand, are going to be your best option during the winter. I am not saying you should not use spinnerbaits or other metal lures. However, soft plastic lures gave me the best results.


What kind of baits to use?

Using baits in the winter is good as well. I prefer to use lures than for baits in the winter only for one reason, and this is the need to clean my hands.

In the winter I prefer to use fishing gloves to keep my fingers warm.

If you don’t mind that, I would recommend you to use baits like shiners, minnows, and worms.

How to use the lures in the winter?

Everything we do in the winter should be considered to the laziness of the fish. In the winter, they don’t like to go for long runs. In comparison to the summer, the fish will prefer short and slow actions.

Hence, after we cast the lures, make sure to make slow actions on the lures and let them be in the water for longer periods.

Be patient, it will pay off.

Lures attractant

As part of the fish being lazy, throwing a lure to the water is not going to be good enough, like it was in the summer.

So, to motivate the fish, to attack your lure, it will be a great thing to dip or spray your lure with a smelly attractant.

I would first say that lure attractants do work.  2 reasons for this. First, it distracts the smell on the lure that it got from your hands – smells like cigarets, gasoline etc. Second, it adds a lifelike smell to your lure which gives a sense of reality to it. You can read more about the success when using lure attractants in our great post about it.

For some of us, hearing about smell attractant sounds a bit too much. And some people don’t like to use it. But, I must say that using smell additive is not something that will hold your fishing enjoyment at all.

The only thing I don’t like when I am using these attractants is the smell on my hands during the fishing. But even for that, I found an easy solution. I just take with me a pack of baby wet wipes – yes, these wipes that we use to clean the baby’s behinds. It will take off the smell away and also the oily feeling.

Fishing Lure attractant - smell additive
Fishing Lure attractant – smell additive

To have smell additive we have two options:

  1. Buying a ready-made smell attractant.
  2. Making our own smell attractant at home.

Buying a lure attractant is quite easy, and you can order one by a few clicks on your device. Or, you can go to your local tackle store and buy yourself one. There are very cheap and effective ones and some are more expensive but very effective as well.

However, if you want to make an attractant by yourself, it is fairly easy. All you need to have is a garlic powder, salt, and oil. An extra virgin olive oil, fish oil or any other oil will do the trick. You take a plastic container, pour the olive oil into the plastic container, then put garlic powder and salt till you get the texture and thickness that you prefer. Mix it very well. Then you can decide how you want to keep it. Your first option is to keep it in a spray bottle and use it at the water – just spray on the lure before you use it. The second option is to leave it in a plastic container and put your soft plastic lures inside the plastic container, so the lures will absorb the attractant. The second option is the preferred option per my experience.

Here is an example for one recipe, of course, there are many other.

Remember my tip to use lure attractant, it will increase your catch, and you will feel the difference – especially in the winter.

Warm up the lures

As part of our plan to cheat the fish, so they will think your lure is an alive fish, it will be good if you will cast a lure which you warmth it just before casting. This will decrease their suspicious and will also motivate them than eating a cold meal. So, keeping the lures in a warm container will help you more. You can also warmth the lures by rubbing them with your hands.

Which fish to target in the winter?

During the winter, you should focus on Bass, Crappie and Muskie. And one of the favorites is the catfish. Of course, you can target bluegills as well.

smallmouth bass - winter fishing
smallmouth bass – winter fishing

Let’s go get them

Fish are aware of the weather. And, for you, knowing the difference in their behavior in different weather conditions can make a big difference for you.

Generally speaking, during the winter fish are more likely to be at a deeper water level. Moreover, fish are more to be in shelters and covers. That means that you will be required to risk your lures in order to bring the lures to those deepest and complex places without them getting tangled.

How to fish in the winter - Fishing In The Rain
How to fish in the winter – Fishing In The Rain

However, if it starts raining, that will make things a bit easier for you. During a light rain, many insects are about to fly at the water surface. And as said before, fish are aware to the weather, so in order for them to get those insects, the fish are going to school near the water surface as well.

And to make things even easier, during the rain, your fishing line will get distracted in the water. So, it can create that perfect situation for you. So don’t let the rain stop you from fishing. That might be the best call for you to catch great fish.

Barometric Pressure

Don’t be afraid of reading the following lines… I know that many of us don’t understand much about barometric pressure. And probably you heard about it only at the weather forecast.

So, relax, I am not going to teach you about barometric pressure. The fact that you know it exists is almost enough for our purpose.

On a separate post, I will explain in details about the barometric pressure. However, what you need to know is that barometric pressure goes up and down.

When the barometric pressure will go down, that makes the water to release air bubbles. Those air bubbles sometimes contain particles and organisms inside of them. So, as the bubbles are to be at the top water surface, the fish will go up to look for food inside them. So your observation at the water level is critical to your winter fishing.

After having a low barometric pressure, a high pressure will arrive. The high barometric pressure will cause the winds to come. These winds will prevent the clouds from forming out and you might even get a bright sunny day. But, even though these days can be beautiful, they are less suitable for fishing.

Since normal people cannot feel a drop in air pressure, there are specific fishing watches that inform you about the current pressure and other valuable information that can help you in fishing. A fishing watch is not one of the most important things in fishing, however, it is a nice addition. And if you like a watch, so make your next watch to be a fishing watch.

Fishing Watch - Winter fishing
Fishing Watch – Winter fishing


In order to be successful in fishing, you need to know several factors that many anglers rely on their daily fishing.

Factors like, what lures to use, where to look for the fish, what equipment to use, what clothes to wear etc.

As for yourself, dress up with warm clothes, make yourself a thermos with a hot drink. Having waterproof shoes are essential.

And regarding the fish, use big soft plastic lures. Move them slower and deeper on the water. warmth the lures before you cast them and spray the lures with attractant.

Air bubbles or light rain will bring fish to the top surface of the water, so make sure to fish the top surface at these situations.

These factors are the ones that distinguish between successful fishermen.

And while many people stay at home, you will get an empty lake all for yourself. Which can be a fishing paradise for you.

So don’t let the winter deter you from fishing. Remember, it can be the most rewarding fishing time for you. I know it is for me.

Let me know what you think about winter fishing, what makes winter different for you in fishing.

See you all at the water.

Did you like this post? Don't keep it just for yourself. Share it with others

2 thoughts on “How to fish in the winter (and be successful)?”

Leave a Comment