By Andy Whitcomb

Like many anglers, I’ve made the full transition to my late fall lure selection for the remaining open water season. Following my traditional seasonal path, I’ve proceeded through a series of lure types, designs, and colors deemed appropriate for the conditions, with water temperature playing a big part. Bassmaster magazine used to run a little reoccurring graphic showing “cast this/not this” for the time of year. I found their progression of lure recommendations and reasoning fairly consistent and would, at least for a moment, take it under consideration. Their suggestions didn’t always align completely with my current rotation but for the most part, we seemed to be on the same page.

For example, starting in the spring, my son and I will cover a lot of water with a white BOOYAH spinnerbait, either tandem or just a single Colorado blade. There is a slight summer decline of use. With warmer water, we traditionally switch to a deeper soft plastic bite in most of our destinations. Bass simply have a hard time ignoring something like a YUM Lizard during summer. Then with cooler fall temperatures, we’ll pick up the spinnerbaits again and really start pounding shallow reaches once more.

At some unknown point, perhaps triggered by our degree of finger numbness, the spinnerbait falls out of the lineup and lipless crankbaits suddenly start getting major minutes. Even though I have watched other anglers catch fish with these lures throughout the year, my Cotton Cordell Super Spot and Gay Blades stubbornly remain in the tackle box until cold water.  But ever since I watched Kevin VanDam at a Bassmaster Classic put on a show with a lipless crankbait in water that was iced over the previous day, these lures have been a staple of my “go-to” cold water attack. By ripping a lipless crankbait surprisingly fast and letting it flutter down dangerously close to the top of grass, cold bass action usually keeps me warm.

When the water gets really cold, I switch to a jerkbait such as a Smithwick Rogue, with frustratingly long pauses.  As Mark Zona once shared about coldwater jerkbait fishing, “text somebody” between a series of jerks. Often, because it has been so long since the last time I worked a jerkbait, I’ll try to find a small open water pond to gain my confidence again, before heading to any frigid lake.

Based on prior experience, I’ve become fairly confident with lure selection through the seasons. But, every now and then, I’ll have a surprisingly quiet outing that has me wondering if I’m too set in my ways. Many years ago, I threw lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits all year and recall being so successful that I wonder why I ever put them down. When I watch other anglers use my “cold water lures” to catch fish in warm water, again I give it a try. However with confidence lacking, I don’t stick with it long enough and soon revert back to my old bag of tricks.

Although I may be blissfully happy catching fish in my coldwater groove, to push myself as an angler and increase my success rates, I may have to leave some of my warm water crutch lures in the garage to rediscover my one-time confidence lures.