Bass pro Andy Wicker of Pomaria, S.C., considers Lake Monticello one of his favorite lakes, and he calls December one of his favorite times to fish there.
“Everyone is in the deer stand then, and I have the lake to myself, for the most part,” he said.
“I catch fish off some of the same places in December as I do in the middle of the summer, but the difference is bait,” Wicker said. “You will be able to recognize the more-productive spots as the ones where you can see balls of bait on the depth finder.”
It’s not imperative to actually mark bass on the depth finder, he said, because they will be under the baitfish and likely will not show up anyway. And they don’t relate to specific pieces of structure as they do at other times.
“I have caught fish in extremely random places on Monticello (in December) just because of the bait, so don’t get stuck thinking you only have to be on points and humps,” he said. “I’ll pay attention to my electronics everywhere.”
The key depth range for December bass seems to be 30 to 35 feet, but he said has caught them anywhere between 20 and 50 feet.
“My favorite baits to use on Lake Monticello in December are an Alabama rig and a vertical jigging spoon like a Berry’s Flex-It in .6-ounce size. I use the spoon most of the time, jigging it on the bottom under the bait I find.”
When Wicker locates a school of bass instead of just picking up the occasional individual fish, he will switch to an Alabama rig, which is more effective for triggering bites from a competitive school of fish.
“I have caught several doubles and even a few triples on the A-rig,” he said. “Since Monticello is a lake void of a lot of deep cover to hang up on, I’ll usually throw out the A-rig and let is sink all the way to the bottom. Then, I’ll creep it along really slow, just fast enough to keep the swimbait tails kicking.”
Wicker prefers Keitech’s Swing Impact FAT 3.8 swimbaits in any shad color.
“I almost always rig these on ¼-ounce jigheads, and there are times that I will rig them on ¼-ounce Buckeye Fish Head Spins. I think the extra flash from the blades can make a big difference when the fish are related to bait.
While December is normally a cold month, there are days when things warm up, Wicker noted. After three or four days of warm temperatures, he will leave deeper water and go after a shallow-water bite.
“I usually target the south end of the lake where the water is already warmer from the warm-water discharge. In the mornings, I will throw a buzzbait shallow,” he said. “Normally, there isn’t a good pattern to this bite, so I just cover as much water as I can. The other bait I use is a medium-diving crankbait like a DT-10. I’ll fish small points and steeper banks with this bait as the sun gets higher.”
And there’s the December bonus: smallmouths.
“Although I never catch enough to actually target smallmouth, it is not uncommon to catch them this time of the year. For whatever reason, the late fall/early winter is the only time I consistently catch smallmouth on Monticello, but I’ve caught some good ones — between 2 and 5 pounds — when they do decide to bite.”