Marc Deschenes does most of his fishing and guiding these days on the six ponds at his VIP Adventures in Summerville, but he feels like the techniques that work for winter bass in his smaller waters can transfer to much-bigger reservoirs across South Carolina.

Fishing around sunken brush piles, especially in open water with crankbaits and spinnerbaits, is a good bet throughout the day, Deschenes said. Fishing jigs around downed trees close to banks is also working, and pulling big crankbaits under or through schools of shad is also working. 

"It's getting cold enough at night to kill a lot of shad, so the bass are sticking close to those dying baitfish for an easy meal," said Deschenes (843-708-5473), whose ponds range in size from 40 to more than 100 acres. "Anglers stand a good chance to land some true trophies right now with these baits and tactics."

But Deschenes said one of the most-overlooked techniques this time of year – at least during warming trends – is a topwater bite with hollow-body frogs like the Spro popping frog.

"When the water temperature gets close to 60 degrees, find what is left of lily pads and other topwater weeds, cast close to the bank, then work the frog back with three or four twitches followed by a 2- or 3-second pause. They will hit it on the pause a lot, so anglers need to keep their line tight, keep their eyes on the frog, and set the hook hard when a fish takes it," he said.

VIP’s ponds are managed for trophy bass, and the well-marked structure makes fishing educational – as well as productive. Deschenes, who also guides on the Santee Cooper lakes, said that fishermen can perfect techniques on the smaller waters, then “transfer that knowledge onto bigger bodies of water.”