Winter Bassing At Bullards Bar

By Kevin Hofer, Kayak City Fishing Team

Despite the days getting longer we are still locked in winter for a while longer, but that could be a good thing if you want to catch a world record spotted bass out of your kayak.
To start I have to mention that fishing in cold weather and cold water poses some serious dangers, always dress appropriately for the conditions and no matter what wear your PFD!!
Ok, now that winter kayaking attire is all set, start heading to Bullards Bar. Home to the current world record at a whopping 11lbs 4oz. Damning the Yuba River to create this reservoir seems to be providing the perfect conditions to grow trophy spots.

A healthy lake and tasty fat filled kokanee help the spots pack on the pounds. I’ve been trying my luck here for close to 5 years now, in this time I have found that the winter months, December through March seem to provide the best shot at sticking a fat one. I’m not sure why this is, I just know that during warmer months I catch way more little rats and few of the big pigs.
It’s a large deep reservoir and it was new to me trying to fish for bass in 20-70 feet of water, luckily the spots here show up incredibly well on sonar. So, a fish finder or a friend fishing closely with one can make a huge difference in the success of a day.

I call it video game fishing, see a nice mark on the finder, just drop down and see if it likes what your offering. Working points and steep drop offs as well as any inlets big or small, these are all areas I focus on.
In the winter months, the reservoir can rise up to 15’ between trips, one time this happened to me and sure enough I found the fish on the same ledge as before but instead of 20-30 feet deep it was 40-50 feet.
On most of my trips it’s a minnow that I send down to trigger a bite and this is probably the easiest way to catch fish here.
A small half ounce weight and a nose hooked minnow is hard for any bass to resist. It’s also a fairly simple way to get down to the depths you need to find the fish.
Dropshot with a Gulp! minnows or your favorite Robo Worm can also produce some nice fish, weightless Senko along the shoreline will almost always produce fish, though usually smaller. Even on the days when the bass are not cooperating you can troll for trout or just enjoy a paddle around the beautiful emerald green waters of Bullards Bar.