THE ACTIVITY CYCLE
"Seems to be a definite cycle to the activity pattern of bass in winter," says Doug Stange, Editor In Chief at In-Fisherman. "Largemouths certainly are concentrated and cooperative at both early-ice and late-ice. They become unpredictable in many environments during midwinter, but so do other species of fish.
"For fast action, start ice fishing bass at first-ice, as soon as you can safely get to them. Largemouths are aggressive then. Unfortunately, once they feed, they may not eat again for a week. Even then though, all bass don't feed at once. Because they're so concentrated, you need maybe 10 percent of 'em to be on a bite when you're fishing. Ten percent of a lot of fish is a good bite"
The next definable feeding spree occurs at late-ice. Bass become active in the areas they've used all winter, but slowly begin to drift toward bays and backwater areas they'll use just before or after ice-out.
This lake map illustrates the basic principle for finding largemouth bass in natural lakes in winter.
Area 1 offers two bars at the entrance to a spawning bay. Bass scatter in the bay and along the two bars during summer. By late fall, they concentrate along points and inside turns on the bars, holding primarily in remaining weedcover. Inside corners with cover tend to hold more bass than points with cover.
Area 2, another major bar, holds fish, too, but probably not as many. Also, because points and inside turns are less distinct, bass are more scattered -- harder to find.