By Alton Jones

I got to do a lot of fishing during November, and December will be no different. December is actually a great month for catching bass, but conditions can be unpredictable. Therefore, it’s important to consider recent and current weather as you plan December outings and select strategies.

We have had extreme rain in my area, and most area lakes are flooded. Lake Whitney, a lake where I often fish this time of year, rose seven feet over the weekend. High, muddy water and cold conditions make for very tough fishing, so I’ve avoided some of my normal stops. Instead, I’ve been fishing at Fayette County Lake, which is a power plant cooling lake that sits at a high elevation and therefore is pretty well immune to drastic fluctuations.

Something I really like about Fayette is that although it is fairly small, it offers everything from deep structure to shallow weeds to flooded timber. That means I can practice techniques for just about any kind of lake and situation. With many baitfish and the bass concentrated in fairly deep water, my recent focus has been on deeper structure.

A Winter Strategy

Last month I mentioned that I had discovered a new lure and that I’d fallen in love with it in only a couple of days. A month later, I love it even more, and it has been a huge part of a lot of fishing – and catching!

The lure is a YUM Swurm, which is a unique soft-plastic jerkbait that comes in two sizes and can be fished many ways. The way I’ve been presenting it is excellent for cold-water bass because it is one of the best imitations of a dying shad that I have ever seen.

I’m using the 4 ¾-inch Swurm, which is the smaller of two sizes, on a 3/8- or ½-ounce Money Head, and am stringing it on straight, with the hook exposed, like you’d rig a grub. I’ll make a long cast to a point over 12 to 20 feet of water, let the bait fall all the way to the bottom, and tighten the line. To work the Swurm, I lift the rod to 45 degrees and hold it with the line tight so the bait pendulums back to the bottom. Then I lower the rod while reeling up slack and repeat that all the way back. I don’t snap the rod up, but lift it gently.

The Swurm doesn’t look like other soft jerkbaits, and it admittedly didn’t catch my eye at first. I finally tried fishing it last month almost by accident because I had a couple of packages in the boat and just wanted to try something different. I’m sure glad I did, and I now see the same bait through different eyes. Its profile and action are extremely shad-like, and I’m eager to explore other applications for other times of the year. Of course, for now, I’m sure having fun with the deeper winter approach!

Great Expectations

I’m getting ready to travel to East Texas to fish really good private waters as part of an event for Legacy Outfitters, which is a men’s ministry I support. There are some extremely big bass where we’ll be fishing and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

I’m actually eager to try the Swurm out there, but I also expect we’ll do well with other shad-imitating lures that work well during December, including Bomber Fat Free Shad crankbaits, YUM Money Minnows and BOOYAH One Knockers.

I talked with the property manager and asked how the fishing had been, and he said he didn’t know because no one had fished for three or four months. That was all I needed to know. Any time you get to fish big-bass-filled waters that no one has fished for a few months, that is a good report!

Classic Scouting

I’m really starting to get into the swing of preparation for the Bassmaster Classic, which is not the sort of event you just show up and fish! This week I am gathering and organizing tackle for a trip to Grand Lake. When I go there, I intend to spend an entire week on the water.

Oklahoma has had a lot of the same rain as we have here, so the lake is flooded and muddy. Because of that, I don’t expect to find really good fishing. That’s OK. What I want to do is use that time to ride the lake and really look at every nook and cranny.

I’ve fished enough tournaments at Grand that I know the main areas pretty well and have a good sense of how it fishes. I’ll be looking for some of the more subtle and out-of-the-way stuff that I haven’t been able to look at before. If I can find something that helps me catch one more quality fish each day of the Classic, that would be absolutely huge.

Really Big Fish?

As a final note, I’m hoping to catch a different kind of fish before the end of the year. For Christmas, I’m traveling to Costa Rica with a group of 14 family members to spend time together. We’re not going there to fish – at least not as the main objective – but I’ve never caught billfish, and we plan to go out one day with hopes of catching a sailfish or a marlin. If all goes like I hope, I’ll have a story to tell next month!