In the winter when you want to catch a largemouth you have a handful of lures you always go to.

There is a jig, square bill crankbait and soft plastics but one of my favorite baits is the Smithwick Rogue.

This hard body jerk bait is one of the best baits to get a cold fish moving in the winter. I have been fishing this bait in lakes and rivers for well over twenty years.

One of my biggest checks came on Kerr Reservoir in March when it snowed on practice. I found the fish on secondary points and I would cast the bait past the point and retrieve it with a twitch, twitch pause action on light line and a soft tip rod.

The colder the water the longer the pause so I watched my electronics and scored a limit in the first hour and ended the day with a 25 pound bag.

The pause in the bait looks like a dying baitfish on its last leg and winter is when they die off. The big females suspend over open water waiting for schools of baitfish to come by and the Rogue will imitate just that.

Because of the action of the bait it can draw fish from far away no matter what the water color or clarity.

The benefit of fishing the bait around here is there is a good chance you could catch a striper while fishing it. The rockfish tend to hang around shallow cover like stump fields and points so twitching the shallow Rouge will bounce through them and draw out the rockfish.

So if you find yourself getting out on a cold day don’t leave home without one in the tackle box.

What’s biting, where...

The offshore report is a little slow but I heard rumors that the bluefin have begun to show up.

It doesn’t surprise me any but I think if more boats left the docks it will only be a matter of time till they start showing up on the docks.

The beach is slow with cold water and high winds keeping most anglers at home. The only thing we have seen is skate and dogfish with the occasional puppy drum.

The sound is your best bet with speckled trout in deep holes and some points. Gulp baits on jig heads are the go to bait as usual. The striper are having a hard time showing their heads but the sound bridge is looking like your best bet.

Stretch baits and umbrella rigs are what’s working now and if you find yourself not getting a strike drop it down to the bottom and stir up some mud. The crappie have been good also with fish hanging around ten feet or so in the creeks and main river turns.

If anyone gets out this week send me a report and some pics to or hit me up on Facebook at Fishing with Mike.

Mike Sweeney is the fishing columnist for The Daily Advance.

Mike Sweeney is the fishing columnist for The Daily Advance.