The cold water season on Lake Barcroft spans about three months long. Bass fishing in the fall can be fast and large numbers of fish can be caught using moving baits like spinnerbaits and crankbaits. The introduction of Gizzard Shad to the Lake in the mid 90s gave the Bass and other Predator fish a bountiful bunch of forage. The Bass follow the movement of the Shad up to the shallow ends in early fall and back out to the main Lake in winter.
Once the water temperature dips below fifty degrees and into the mid to low 40s, the fast action of fall has ended and the Winter Fishing begins. Winters in Falls Church, especially in the last decade have been mild, but a cold snap can cause some Gizzard Shad to die off. This is a welcome event to birds such as gulls and even the Majestic Bald Eagle.
This Shad Kill also provides a feeding opportunity with good rewards to predator fish such as The Largemouth Bass. My favorite and most productive lure to use during these times is a suspending Jerkbait. It mimics a dying shad like no other lure and I have caught Bass on this style lure with water temperatures in the 30s. My favorite is the Smithwhick Pefect Ten Rogue. I fish it on a twitch and pause cadence and often am thrilled when a four pounder thinks it’s a Shad. Another Favorite lure I like to use in cold water is a flat sided Crankbait like The Bomber Deep Flat A. It has neutral Buoyancy and does a good job imitating a weak Shad as well.
When the water is a little warmer I also do well fishing Spinnerbaits. I slow roll them through areas where I know there is wood or brush and when The Bass are a little more active, they knock slack in my line and I have landed some 4s and 5s doing this. The conclusion I make during colder months is to use lures that mimic those big dying shad.