Changing weather patterns can make bass fishing challenging in February, but it is also a premier month for catching big, prespawn females on South Carolina’s Lake Greenwood, according to bass pro Brandon Cobb, who grew up on the lake.

“Although a relatively small lake, Lake Greenwood is a powerhouse for big bass,” Cobb said. “In South Carolina, February usually marks the turn from winter patterns to the big spring move. The severity of the winter, amount of rainfall and warming trends determines just how far along the bass will be.”

While it’s usually still cold, early February can be the best time to catch a truly giant bass and a big stringer from Greenwood, according to Cobb, who noted that water temperatures can range from the low 40s to the low 50s.

“However, in early February the fish are still in the first stages of moving up for the spring, regardless of the water temperature,” he said. “Rock, rock and more rock are the best places to begin searching for the first wave of fish to pull up. With cold water, rock tends to absorb more sunlight and warm more quickly than any other type of cover.”

And, he added, the trend of warming sun in February serves to move more fish up on these areas.

“The largest population of bass has been offshore, along the main-lake run, following big schools of shad and perch for most of the winter, so rock along the main-lake run or barely inside the creeks and pockets will be the most high-percentage areas.”

Cobb said the annual winter drawdown — 3 to 5 feet —makes this type of fishing much easier because some of the best rocky banks will be very noticeable. The most success usually will come around larger chunk rock, softball size or bigger, he added.

With fish still lethargic, a subtle bait will perform best, he said.

“A small crankbait with a tight wobble that runs 3 to 6 feet deep is my go-to bait when targeting rock. A Duel Hardcore shad in a craw pattern is my personal favorite. Casting small crankbaits can be very tricky, so light line and a limber rod are a must.”

As the warming trends become more prevalent, fish will move more, and the pattern of small crankbaits along rocky banks will work all the way to March, Cobb said, but other patterns come into play as well.

“Although many of the fish will still be near the main lake, a heavy population will be moving farther back into the pockets and creeks,” Cobb said. “Docks can be great staging places as the fish move back. Lake Greenwood is covered in docks, making fishing seem like a daunting task. Generally, after a couple hours of fishing, I can narrow the search down to a type of dock.”

Docks along larger pockets with brush are prime spots, he said, because fish will use brush as they move back into the pockets.

“A ½-ounce jig and jerkbait are usually big producers around docks,” Cobb said. “Some days, fish will tend to suspend high in the water column, making the jerkbait produce. Sometimes, fish will hang near the bottom, making the jig better. It just takes time on the water and attention to detail to see what they want.”