With the air temperature near single digits at takeoff and no hope of it warming much past freezing later that February day, Paul Mueller and his fellow competitors bundled up and set off for Day 1 of the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell. Some found their first spots iced over, contrasting to the much warmer practice days when he caught plenty of largemouth by cranking shallow water. While the cold snap broke that pattern, he had the tools to fix his situation.
Mueller lives in Connecticut and chases bass in his fair share of cold water. It has allowed him to fashion and practice tactics for the situation he faced at Hartwell. So, he changed spots, heading to deeper water where spotted bass, hunkered in ditches, were more willing to bite than the largemouth. He also changed his lure, casting a small swimbait to catch 38 pounds and 6 ounces over three days, earning him 12th place.
All bass anglers know that swimbaits are potent bass catchers during spring and summer when warm water makes bass aggressive. But many put them away in late fall and winter. They shouldn’t. The productivity of these soft-plastic lures, especially when rigged on jig heads, doesn’t slow down when water temperatures drop. Like the bass, they need to adjust to the conditions.
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