Fact is, modern bass anglers using modern technology are far more effective at finding fish during tough times than the weekend angler might have been 15 or 20 years ago. I feel also a large part of the “too cold” gripe stems from anglers that used to head south in winter. Even though a Florida winter doesn’t typically rival a Northeast winter, Florida strain bass were notorious for getting lockjaw during the colder months. Anglers figured, well, if the Florida bass won’t bite in February, no way fish will bite any farther north. Then somewhere along the line, smart anglers learned how to punch heavy mats with rattling jigs in winter, which consistently triggered reaction bites from cold Florida bass. Such techniques were largely developed by pro anglers “forced” to figure out how to catch bass in cold conditions. All of a sudden, instead of talking about bass with lockjaw, bags of winter giants were hitting the weigh-ins. The truth is that fans want to see big bass, and while the fishing may be more challenging, any bass nut will agree that your best shot at catching a true hawg is during pre-spawn. Not too mention, a ride in the live well is a lot less stressful on fish in cold water than 90-degree summer water.
Granted, bundling up in Gore-Tex and stuffing your pockets with hand warmers sucks, but I personally find a tournament in rough conditions more exciting, and it really tests the anglers’ prowess. That’s why I have to say congrats to Casey Ashley. Way to go on an exceptional cold-weather win!