Where Do Bass Go In The Winter?

underwater view of a bass

Bass will move down to deeper water as the temperature drops in the winter. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they migrate to the other end of the lake.

“They really don’t move that far. It’s more of an up-and-down movement. They go shallow and deep all within the same relatively small area as the seasons change, but they don’t migrate from one end of the lake to the other.”

Ken Cook, 14-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier.

Why Do Bass Go Deep In The Winter?

There are many factors why bass moves from shallow water to deep water this time of year. So does this mean you can’t find winter bass in shallow water?

Keep reading below.

Cold Blooded

top view of bass fish in water

Unlike humans, bass are cold-blooded animals. Simply put, their body temperature cannot retain heat in frigid temperatures. As the water temps get cooler, they will try to stay in the deepest part of the area where the water is more stable and warmer (As opposed to the summertime bass fishing where deeper water is preferred because it’s cooler).

Does this mean you can’t find bass in shallower water in the wintertime? Not at all.

Here are two scenarios to consider:

  • Your local man-made fishing lake might only go 6ft deep. At the point where it starts to drop off to slightly deeper water is where you can bass.
  • Bass typically prefer shallow pockets of water in rivers where there is hardly any moving water because these areas are typically warmer.


largemouth bass on a soft plastic

As the water temperature drops, their metabolism slows down as well. This is why bass fishing in the winter month is more challenging.

A slower metabolism means they feed less often, and they’ll try and conserve as much energy in colder months. One of the key winter bass fishing tips from anglers is to retrieve your lure slowly, or not move it at all which is called deadsticking (one of techniques for using a drop shot rig for bass)

Big bass around this time doesn’t like spending much energy chasing their food.

The good news, though, is that they still gotta eat!

This leads to my next point.



You need to find the baitfish if you want to start finding bass in cold weather, which is another reason bass move to deeper waters.

Because baitfish will move to deeper water to survive, follow the food source.

Bass do not hibernate. They just feed less. If you present the right lure, the most lethargic bass will eat.

The correct lure presentation would mimic a wounded baitfish on a slow retrieve. What bass wouldn’t be enticed with an easy meal?

How Cold Is Too Cold For Bass Fishing?

Anything below 40 degrees Fahrenheit will be the most challenging for bass. This is when they’re the least active and hardly feeding. This is where you will typically find them in the deepest part of the lake.

Between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit is when their metabolism will start to slow down. However, they will still be around the dropoffs and closer to shallow areas.
Between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, bass will try to eat as much bait as possible to fatten up for the winter. This is the period around late fall and entering the winter months.

How To Find Deep Water Bass

Knowing the lake you’re fishing in will give you the upper hand here. For example, a fish finder is crucial for finding bigger fish if you’re offshore fishing on a boat.

What you want to look in deep water are rock piles where small baitfish have a place to hide. Bass anglers will look for any type of structure for wintertime bass fishing.

Once you’ve found some structure, lock your boat’s position with an anchor or by using a spot lock trolling motor.

What Are Some Cold Water Bass Fishing Tips?

The key to getting as many bites as possible in the winter is to present your bait in the strike zone longer and retrieve it slowly.

Bass don’t want to be chasing bait at this time of year.

They are sluggish, but they will attack if they think they can ambush a wounded baitfish with little effort.

Do Bass Still Bite In The Winter?

They do, just not as often as the other seasons. They still need to eat to survive the winter months, but they want to eat using the least effort.

Final Thoughts

underwater view of lake

If you want to catch bass in the winter, it takes a little more patience to stand a fair chance. But it’s not impossible by any means.

Know where the deep structures are in your main lake. If you’re on a boat, cover as much body of water as possible until you find the spot.

If you’re inshore or bank fishing, find the dropoffs where shallow water transitions to deeper water.

And more importantly, have fun and tight lines!

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