February: frozen or fantastic?
A February surprise: a smallmouth and a largemouth bass. Itís possible, if the weather cooperates.
Three days ago, a friend and I caught four bass on jerkbaits down at the pond just before dark, and the next day it was frozen. I donít even like Florida, but it sure looking good right now.
All I have is history and experience to predict what the fishing will be like in February. It can be all over the map ó fantastic or frozen.
I remember many warm February days in years past, and those tend to be the only ones my selective memory will allow. So letís pretend it is going to be a fantastic February, with the fish coming alive and feeding heavy.
Assuming a nice warming trend, I'll be prepared with several of my favorite prespawn baits.
• Lipless crankbaits. My favorite has always been a 5/8 TD Vibration.
• Deep-diving suspending jerkbait. I like the Lucky Craft Staysee and Daiwa Double Clutch.
• Shallow-diving, suspending jerkbait. TD Minnow or Jackall 128 Squad minnow.
• Flat-sided crankbait or finesse crankbait. RJA Custom or Shad Rap.
• Jig. Outkast football jig with Culprit tailgate special.
• Spinnerbait. Half-ounce double willow-leaf.
Now that I have my boat cluttered up with a dozen or so rods, I head to the lake assuming the fish will be aggressive and feeding before spawning.
With all the baits listed above, I am trying to locate feeding schools of bass that are in ďstaging areas.Ē Thatís a fishermanís term for where the fish are holding and feeding before moving shallower to spawn.
Staging areas to try:
• Points. The ones with a channel or deeper water nearby when the water is still cold. Donít overlook the shallow ones if it is warm. Try crankbaits and jerkbaits first, then clean up with the football jig.
• Secondary points: These are the ones back in a cove or creek. These are often overlooked and are some of the best ones.
• Bridges and rip-rap. These are easy places to try really fast. The channel always flows under bridges, making it an easy place for a school of bass to pull up and feed.
• Edges of big grass flats. If there is grass still around, this is the place for lipless crankbaits
• Floating docks. Bass will suspend a few feet down under these floating docks on the sunny side. You can really catch a lot of big ones in a hurry if you find this happening. The TD Minnow is my favorite here.
These are just a few ideas to try from things that Iíve done well on in the past. Letís hope itís going to be a nice warm February. If it does get cold, toughen up and get after them anyway.
Dustin Wilks is a professional bass fisherman from Rocky Mount. He has fished professionally since 1999 and currently competes on the Bassmaster Elite Series. Wilks has qualified for five Bassmaster Classics and is sponsored by Culprit, Daiwa, OutKast Jigs, Costa Del Mar, RJA Custom Crankbaits, Skeeter, Yamaha, and Keelshield.
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