Editor’s Note: Besides fishing bass tournaments, James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, has won $1 million+ on the Bassmaster and FLW circuits and guides on Lake Fork in Texas. Today he’ll tell us how he searches the grass for big bass in January and February.
Bass can be caught in shallow water at this time of year in the South. At Lake Fork, my home lake, bass can be caught in water that’s 10-foot deep or less. Grass beds will be your best bet at Lake Fork, and my favorite type of grass is hydrilla. I’ll look for grass in major creeks on primary and secondary points and fish down some of the main banks of the creek, like the mouth of Birch Creek and the banks that lead into Birch Creek. You’ll begin to see baitfish moving in these areas.
My favorite lure is a lipless crankbait in January and February like the Strike King Diamond Shad or the Strike King Red Eye Shad (https://www.strikeking.com/products/12-oz-red-eyed-shad). And if that doesn’t work, I’ll still fish a lipless crankbait. I like blue-and-black, blue-and-chrome or gold-and-black with a black back on my lures. I want to cover a lot of water and look for vegetation that seems to be thicker and healthier than the other vegetation at the mouth of the creek, or on the banks that lead into the creek. But patchy vegetation is also more productive than heavy vegetation at this time of year. Irregular grass seems to hold more bass than a long line of grass does.
I start fishing the Diamond Shad shallow and work my way out to deep water. The good news about fishing the lipless crankbait over and through grass is that in most of the South, this technique will produce bass from October to March. If you cover enough water and vary the retrieve and the depth you fish, this tactic will always produce bass. You’ll be catching early pre-spawn bass.
I fish the lipless crankbait at this time of year on 15-pound-test line with a medium-heavy All Star graphite rod. I like the graphite rod because I can feel the grass with it. I can feel my line touching the grass and the power in the graphite rod enables me to rip that Diamond Shad out of the grass when it touches the grass. I want the bait to come clean out of the grass, because most of the time, the strike will come after the lipless crankbait breaks free of the grass. Regardless of where you fish in the South, from October to the first of March, you can bet on the lipless crankbait.
To learn more about catching bass, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Bass Pros: Season by Season Tactics,” at https://amzn.to/2IKUhe, available in Kindle and print versions, and Click here for the Audible link. You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the book for free and hear 10% of the book for free).