Bass pro Pete Ponds will always have these five lures tied on when he goes fishing in the late fall and winter in Mississippi.
No. 1 BooYah One Knocker. This lipless crankbait comes with only one big BB rattle, which Ponds said works great on highly pressured or lethargic bass. Ponds throws it on a 7-foot medium- heavy Duckett rod, with either 30-pound Vicious No-Fade braid for stained water or 12-pound monofilament for clear water.
“I rarely use fluorocarbon line with these lures, because sometimes a little bit of stretch is a not a bad thing,” said Ponds., whose favorite colors are Rayburn Red or chrome/blue back.
“I don’t know why the red works so much, but the fish like it and winter is the only time I throw it,” he said.
No. 2 BooYah Hard Knocker. This version of the same lipless crankbait comes with multiple BB rattles. “I like it when the fish are more aggressive,” Ponds said. “I rig it the same way and choose the same colors that I do the One Knocker.”
No. 3 Bandit Flat Maxx Deep. The tight-wiggle action of this crankbait is perfect for fall/winter bass, Ponds said.
“You have to establish the pattern that fish want on the retrieve, and that can range from a steady retrieve to a reel-pause-sweep-pause retrieve,” he said. “Use 12-pound fluorocarbon, a 7-foot-1 medium-action rod and choose ... any shad pattern.”
No. 4 Yum-Dinger. Ponds likes to have a soft-plastic lure on standby for any fish that misses a lure or if he sees a fish swirl on bait within casting distance. His bait of choice is the 5-inch version of this Senko-like worm.
“I fish it on a 7-foot heavy action rod with 12- or 14-pound fluorocarbon line,” he said. “I don’t use a weight, but I do use a 4/0 EWG Hayabusa hook. The (Extra Wide Gap) hook is a key part of the rig. I generally use a green pumpkin or junebug color, but there are some lakes where a specific color is required.”
No. 5 Smithwick Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue. The suspending version of this old jerkbait is a necessity in the winter, Ponds said.
“There’s so many ways you can present this lure, and I love it in the winter,” he said. “One thing I do recommend is that you shorten up and loosen up on your rod. I generally throw it on a 6-foot-10 Duckett, but I know some people even go to a 6-foot-6. It’s important to drop down to a medium-light action to prevent tearing the hooks loose on a hookset. I use either 10- or 12-pound fluorocarbon. My favorite pattern is Clown (red face/chrome back, with red/yellow on the body).”
On standby. Like any touring pro, Ponds never leaves the dock without a boatload of lures, giving him literally thousands of options. For most anglers, he recommends they have four other options available: a Bandit Series 200 crankbait (shad pattern), a quarter-ounce jig with a Yum Wooly Hawgtail trailer, a Carolina-rigged Christie Craw, and a drop-shot rig with a 4- or 5-inch finesse-type worm like a Robo worm.
“You have to keep all the bases covered,” Ponds said. “Mississippi’s December and winter weather can vary greatly from 70 degrees to sub-freezing. There’s no use going unless you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you.”