Watch the Forecast — This time of year, fish tend to be fairly temperamental. Weather conditions have a huge impact on their activity levels. Fish feed just before the passing of a cold front, so if you can time your trip for right before that happens, you’re more likely to get the bites you’re after.
Plan Your Attack — As with any season, choosing the right location makes all the difference between a successful outing and a strikeout. Visit your state’s Department of Natural Resources page for information on what fish are where, along with any rules and regulations you should be aware of. Social media can be another great resource; head here for a list of popular sites.
Gather Your Gear — Winter is tough on fishing gear; make sure you’ve properly maintained your reels so that cold temperatures don’t freeze your bearings or thicken old grease. You might also consider using a line conditioner to prevent water from collecting and icing up.
Rate Your Bait — This time of year, fish and their food sources tend to move more slowly than they do in the warmer months. That means live bait will be much more enticing than a lure, which will move too quickly and could spook the fish. If you still prefer to use lures, choose smaller ones with feathers or fur for more realistic action.