Bass enjoy their suspended state in winter
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoor Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2013
1/27/13 at 3:54 AM
Bass slow down in the winter and change their habits, but that doesn't mean they are "slow," according to Oklahoma's top bass biologist.
"They don't hibernate, they don't completely stop moving. Even the little guys have to eat sometime," said Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "I have a friend who goes to Arbuckle and fishes for the little (Kentucky spotted bass) because he likes to eat 'em ... he'll catch 40, 50 a day."
Bass don't really get slow. "Their muscles still work. If they need a burst of speed to catch a shad they can still do the things they need to do to feed and stay alive and happy," he said. "But their metabolism slows down so the need for calories isn't there and, depending on the lake, there may not be as abundant a food supply in the winter so calorie conservation is important in the winter as well."
Anglers talk about bass being "suspended" in winter. What that means is the fish are in a holding pattern in the water column, usually tied to structure like a point or ledge along an old creek channel or in, around or over rocks, brush piles, trees, docks or bridge pilings.
"Bass have the ability to regulate their buoyancy by inflating or deflating the swim bladder so they can get to a depth, to a zone where they feel comfortable - maybe it's where the food is located or the temperature or oxygen or whatever are ingredients it needs that make it the right spot for them," Gilliland said.
Suspended, the fish are comfortable, healthy and burning very few calories to maintain their health status.
Easy meals, getting nutrients without expending a lot of energy, are a bonus.
That's why a suspended jerkbait that mimics a wounded or dying shad suspended there, right in front of the bass's nose, can be an effective bait. It's why an umbrella-rig that mimics a relatively slow small school of bait attracts hits, and it's why a hair jig, skirted jig or finesse worm that has action to it without a lot of motion can entice a "lazy" bass to strike.
Original Print Headline: Bass enjoy their suspended state in winter