In the deep freeze of winter, many outdoorsmen are camouflaging their clothing and pursuing deer and other game. Anglers who have a passion for bass face the elements for the chance of landing a trophy without horns.

Spoon feeding bass, a tactic for big winter fish, requires map study, good electronics and a good foundation of spoons. Location, cover, presentation and other factors will turn a cold winter's day into a red hot fishing trip.

Winter is not the time to beat the banks. Water temperatures in South Mississippi lakes like Okhissa and Ross Barnett dip into the low 50s and even the high 40s after a week or so of cold weather. Water depths in the 20-foot range hold fish because temperatures are more stable at deeper depths. Shad, bream, bass and other species find humps, channel breaks and ledges for food and safety from shallow temperature drops.

Mark Davis, B.A.S.S. Elite pro who helped designed Strike King's Sexy Spoon, never leaves the house this time of year without spoons in his box.

"A spoon is another tool for fishing a ledge," said Davis, who will make the trip in February to the 2011 Bassmasters Classic in New Orleans. "Bass find structure and cover around 10 to 20 feet during the colder months. Jigs, crankbaits and spoons are great options for wintertime ledges."

A good map begins the search for offshore structure. Maps for larger lakes like Ross Barnett have information like channels, depth contours and cover location like fish attractors. However, maps are often hard to find for small or new lakes like Okhissa near Bude. When maps are available but information is not part of the map, electronics are what offshore anglers turn to. Satellite maps show only the surface, which may not be enough information to find underwater structure. Today's electronic units are a must have to find the spots where winter bass feed.

Danny Smith, winner of the 2007 B.A.S.S. Central Open on the Red River, knows how important a stretch of real estate is for a successful trip.

"A good winter honey hole has a hump or ledge with good cover on top," he said. "Okhissa has humps, road beds, creek channels and other structure designed into the floor of the lake. It is an excellent lake to learn about structure fishing."

Ideal locations include structure with cover. Structure refers to the bottom of the lake. Cover is anything that sits on the bottom. Prime winter spots have a good depth change like a hump, old pond dam, bridge or road. Cover comes in many forms like tree tops, logs, old brush or man-made piles of fish habitat.

Idle the boat over suspected hot spots using an electronic graph to find the key ingredients. Mark spots with fish or bait. After finding several prime areas, chunk a spoon in each area until a school of fish is located.

Spoons, jigs, Carolina rigs and crankbaits are part of the winter angler's arsenal. Spoons have the advantage because they imitate dying shad, work through wood cover easily and fall quickly to the bottom with a variety of weights and shapes. When cold fronts slam the mercury down, some shad begin to die and descend to the bottom. Spoons mimic a fluttering shad as it tumbles down the water column. Bass target dying shad for easy winter meals.

"Let the bass tell you the best presentation," Davis suggested. "Bass are on the bottom in the winter. A slow lift presentation may be best or an upward sweep may trigger the bite. A big key is letting the spoon fall freely on a slack line. About 99.9 percent of the strikes are when the spoon is fluttering down."

The silver chunks of metal come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with standard being 3 to 5 inches in length. Shapes range from simple concaved to fish shapes. With sizes all the way up to 1.5 ounces, picking a spoon can be a complicated deal. Add in painted ones and spoons with tape over one side that ranges from color to images of fish, and choices can blow the mind. A simple silver spoon will do the job. Heavy slabs in the 1-ounce range are great for wood because it is easier to dislodge the hook from the bark of the tree.

Anglers like Smith change the treble hooks to premium brands and increase hook size to handle the cover and big bass.

"Strike King's Sexy Spoon is best for depths between 5 to 20 feet," Davis said. "Spoons work for schooling bass in warmer months when a long cast is needed and in the winter when a short pitch and vertical presentation are better."

For a lake like Okhissa with clear to stained water, fluorocarbon in 17- to 20-pound-test is the best option. Fluorocarbon has less stretch than monofilament, which helps when setting the hook on fish that are 20 feet down.

"A 7-foot rod with a medium-heavy action has the backbone to get the hook ups and move the fish out of the cover," Smith said. "Strikes can feel like a hang up to a solid thump. A rod with a sensitive tip helps work the lure through the cover and delivers a solid hook set."

Well-designed lakes like Okhissa are loaded with standing timber, wood piles and brushpiles. When fishing a spoon, one tip that will save money is not to bear down when the spoon hangs up. A hard pull or quick hookset buries the hook into the bark causing the loss of the spoon. Both pros recommended positioning the boat over the lodged spoon and bouncing the rod slightly to free the bait. At times, a fish will dislodge the spoon with a vicious strike. Sometimes after the lure breaks free, expect a strike.

Spoon feeding bass is a productive winter tactic. Placed on the right structure, the spoon produces big fish from heavy cover.

When there is smoke from the chimney and frost on the ground, pick up a few spoon-fed bass on the next trip to Lake Okhissa.