Dead Stick Baits
Winter’s doldrums not only slow down game-fish metabolism, it also turns frisky baitfish sluggish. Most fishermen make the mistake of sticking with the lure cadence they found success with during warmer months. If you find the fish are resisting your best presentations, try dead sticking. Dead sticking is the simplest of the soft-plastic techniques, and often, the deadliest on lethargic fish. Try this: Cast a bait into a likely haunt, then simply let it fall on a slack line without any action. Target sand spots and openings in weeds, as these offer slothful fish an extended visual on the bait as it falls salaciously. When choosing a soft plastic imitator upsize a bit. Throwing larger-profiled baits slows the fall (due to increased surface area) and motivates fish into biting when small baits won’t. Rigging is almost as easy as fishing a dead-sticked plastic. I personally throw mine rigged weightless; either skin hooked or whacky-style. In either case, the trick is letting the bait have plenty of bottom time. Once cast, keep the line slack (spinning gear excels as it allows you to manage your line easily). A word of caution though—you’ll rarely feel strikes. In most instances, you’ll notice your line wandering off slowly. When you do, set the hook. One last note: Extend the bait’s bottom time until you start getting bit, as odd as that might sound.