by David A. Brown –

During most of the year, a simple rule influences bass fishing: Find the bait, and you’ll find the fish. Winter throws a knot in that line by making it much tougher to locate the chow. Without a definitive game plan, cold days can turn into a whole lot of looking with not a whole lot of fishing.

“It gets a lot harder to follow the bait in the wintertime,” says Alabama pro Gerald Swindle. “This is the hardest time of year to follow the schools.”

Granted, baitfish numbers expand greatly once warm weather returns, but there’s still plenty of finned forage to be found in the year’s first quarter. For Swindle, it’s all about dialing in the spots where baitfish will feel most comfortable.

In reservoirs, his prime winter targets are the bottoms of creek channels. Anywhere he finds a creek dumping into the main channel, Swindle expects to find bait gathered at the lowest point of that drop. On warm days, baitfish may move up to the shallow channel edges, but the rest of the time, they’re hanging low.

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