Figuring Out Winter Warm-Ups

By John Neporadny Jr.

Various factors determine how bass react to a winter warm-up on your favorite fishery. Water clarity and forage availability are keys to figuring out how to find bass when winter briefly turns balmy.

Water clarity dictates how much the water temperature will climb on a sunny winter day. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brian Snowden notices water temperature will rise about two degrees in stained water on a warm and sunny winter day, but the same weather will produce only a one-degree climb in clear water. “If the lake has some stain, I move shallower,” he says. “I fish more 45-degree chund rock banks and go shallow with a 3/8-ounce jig, or I will even catch them on a crankbait.”

Snowden’s top choice for fishing the chunk rock banks in dirty shallow water is a finesse jig tipped with a plastic chunk trailer. In stained water, Snowden opts for a plastic skirted twin tail grub with a ¼-ounce jighead that he works five to eight feet deep along bluff ends and flats adjacent to a river channel. The chunk rock banks are also ideal spots for Snowden to run a crawfish pattern crankbait.

Pinpointing the depth of baitfish is the key to catching deep bass on clrar lakes during a winter warm-up. “Usually when it warms the shad move up and so do the bass,” says Snowden. “The move vertically up the water column in the lower clearer sections of a reservoir and more horizontally on the upper dirty water sections.”

If Snowden notices the shad are moving, he will cast to the baitfish, count his lure down to the same depth or slightly below the baitfish, and then slowly reel his bait back to the boat. His top choice for this deep-water tactic is a 3 ½ -inch tube bait with a ¼- or 3/8-ounce ball jighead.

For more bass fishing tips, visit John Neporadny’s website ( to purchase his book – 101 Bass Fishing Tips