The Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour is officially underway this week down at Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas/Louisiana border, and even all the way down there, we’re looking at lows in the 40s making for a nice and balmy morning out on one of America’s premiere bass fisheries.
Up here in Wisconsin where I live, I still got about 6 inches of ice off my dock, but with temps in the 40s all next week, the hard water season may be coming to a close much sooner than expected. Nevertheless, bass fishing still going strong in the rest of the country, so let’s take a look at some colder-water techniques for the month of February.
South of the Great Lakes, bass will still be in the winter patterns with water temperatures below 50 degrees, and as you move further south towards the Gulf, we’ll start to see more and more fish in those transitional stages, heading into the pre-spawn.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the top bass lures that’ll play around the country, for the month of February:
A lipless crankbait is great this time of year, especially if you’re on a lake where some grass is present. In the cold water months of late winter and early spring, I like to yo-yo my retrieve near that grass line or rip it across the top of a shallow-water grass flat. Red craw colors are the deal, especially further in the south.
A paddle tail swimbait is definitely a confidence bait for me, one that I’ll throw nearly year around. Throw a jig head on there and you can drag it on the bottom or swim it in the middle of the water column for suspended fish. You can put an underspin on it, or grab a few and tie on an Alabama rig. Size up, size down… it’s as versatile as it gets.
A jig on the other hand, is not a confidence bait for me, but… they will play all year (and hey, I’m getting better with one). But as the bass continue to move up ahead of the spawn, you can skip a jig up around docks or flip it into laydowns and brush piles, or even steep rock banks. With the water being cold and the bass still being fairly lethargic, you’re going to want to work it pretty slow and use a trailer with a very little action of its own.
A jerkbait is a staple in cold water, but it’s also probably one of the most difficult to throw. Don’t get me wrong, anyone can tie one on and catch a fish, but it really requires a certain level of technique and practice to really get the most out of the lure. The most common approach is to utilize a “jerk, jerk, pause” rhythm, and the colder the water, the longer you’re gonna want to pause it. But… the real mastery of the jerkbait comes with altering that cadence enough to figure out what the bass are looking for. I like to use a baitcaster, but plenty of anglers will throw them on a spinning rod, 10 or 12 pound fluorocarbon, and then depending on your type of lake, you’re gonna wanna look for long points, steep drop-offs, bluff walls and creek channels.
Colors: Northern Lights, Table Rock, Hankie Pankie
Cranking in cold temperatures can be a winning pattern if the conditions are right. Generally, I’m looking for a bit clearer water and some relatively shallow rocky bottom to entice that bite. Sometimes, lethargic bass seem to prefer the tight wobble of a flat-sided, but on other occasions, the wider wobble of a squarebill or the original Wiggle Wart will do the trick. It really just depends on your body of water, the depths youre targeting, and the temperature of the water. Further north, I’m probably going to lean towards a flat-sided to start, so feel free to play around with a few different kinds.
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