Lake Wylie has always been considered one of the better cold-weather lakes in the Carolinas for largemouth bass, and February is prime time for big fish to start stirring, plus, there’s the constant action around one of the lake’s warm-water discharges.

Guide Jerry Neeley (704-678-1043) especially looks for short periods of warming weather late in the month to kick bass into gear.

“The bass fishing will pick up toward the end of the month, especially if you can get a couple of warm days in a row,” he said. “But you can fish in the South Fork (River) all month with the warm-water discharge. They’ll school up in there, and the fishing can be good all February long.”

In the South Fork, which gets a warm-water discharge from a Duke Energy power plant, Neeley fishes a small Rapala stickbait or a plastic worm; both lures can be deadly if the power company is pulling water, spreading the effects of the warm water for miles from the plant.

“You can catch a quick limit in there if they’re pulling water,” Neeley said.

If he’s not going in the South Fork, Neeley will likely be found around the mouth of major tributary creeks or just inside those creeks, fishing brush piles and boat docks with blue/black jigs or No. 9 Shad Raps.

“At the end of February, I’ll start looking around creek mouths and the coves right inside the creeks close to the main lake,” he said. “There will be some fish in those covers. Most everybody wll fish with jigs around heavy cover, docks and rocks.

“I’ll also try crankbaits. A No. 9 Shad Rap is great, especially in a crawdad color. I’ll be fishing 12 feet deep or less.”