As the winter moves on and we start to get some warming sun against the east banks and shoreline working a small crank bait becomes a very effective presentation! There might be no better bait with high 40 and low 50 degree water temperatures, there are however a few keys to making it work for you.
The first and most obvious key is that the winter time crank baiting is all about warming banks, so the east side of the river in the afternoon becomes the target area to fish with the crank baits. Having rip rap on the bank is also a big key as rock warms in the sun and attracts the bass. Also, lay downs and red clay banks all warm in the afternoon so these are also good target areas to catch fish.
Another key is the type of crank bait you are using in the winter, the wobble and the size of your crank bait can have a big affect on catching fish; I personally like a tight wobble in a winter time crank bait. Small in size, something you can fish slowly around the rock and banks you are fishing, colors vary but I like Sexy shad or Colorado shad in colors; if the water is muddy then I go to a crawfish color or a chartreuse. With the on-set of the square bill crank baits in the last few years, they have also become a good option for the winter cranking bite. The key is choosing the correct manufacturer, most square bills are fat and have a wide wobble; Spro square bill is flatter on the side and hence a tighter wobble and that is a difference maker for the slow presentation needed.
Lastly, there is a target area that I like to fish; I think working directly from the bank out gets you your best opportunity to catch a fish especially the first five feet off the bank, you will be surprised how shallow the fish are in cold water.
Captain Mike Gerry
Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service
Professional Bass Fishing Guide