There’s a lot of variance in February around the country when it comes to bass fishing. Some of the fish will be up on the beds and others will be just starting to move towards the beds. One thing is for certain, however, they’ll all be thinking about the spawn. That means they’re vulnerable to a flipping or pitching approach.
Look for them around suitable spawning areas. Generally that’ll be in the thickest cover they can find near a hard bottom area. I usually start near pockets or other backwater spots, but you always have to keep in mind where you’re fishing. If backwater spots are few and far between on your water, you might want to look around to see what else is available. I’ve seen many a largemouth bed on a big tree limb in standing timber over 40 feet of water. In Florida they often spawn on pad roots.
Another thing to keep in mind is the weather. Prespawn bass are very sensitive to cold fronts — more than during any other season of the year. One day they might be up making beds, but then the weather turns cold and they’ll run back into the thickest cover around. It doesn’t take much. A drop in water temperature of one or two degrees will do it.
This situation presents one of the best flipping opportunities you’ll ever have. In fact, it may be the only opportunity you’ll have to catch them under these circumstances. The bass are tucked back in heavy cover. You know where they are, and you know how to get a bait to them.
My lure preference for this type of fishing is a jig. I want something that’ll get through the cover but, at the same time, I don’t want much movement. The Strike King Denny Brauer Premiere Pro-Model Jig is perfect. If the water is clear, I fish a brown and green pumpkin color (No. 46). If the water’s dirty, I switch to a black and blue or a Texas Craw.
I like to put a Denny Brauer Chunk on the back of my jig. This gives me more bulk but doesn’t have an unnatural amount of action in cold water. I always match the color to my bait. In my experience that’s more natural looking and will catch more fish. Weight is a matter of water depth. The deeper the water, the heavier my jig will be. At this time of year the fish are bottom-oriented.
If you live in the north, the water will still be really cold. The bass may not be as far along as what I’ve been talking about. Look for them on breaks, channels and other natural travel routes from their winter spots to the bedding areas. I’d still go with the same jig and plastic combination, however.
I’ll summarize all this by saying that in February you have to figure out what stage the bass are in as well as where they’re holding and then target them with a jig and plastic chunk.
Next time we’ll talk about how to approach flipping and pitching for bass as the water gets warmer and they actually move up on the beds.
Originally published February 2012