Tom Frink’s favorite February baits

Bassmaster Opens EQ angler Tom Frink is gearing up for the 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens season with a preseason scouting trip in February.
Frink’s trusty sidekick Scout comes along for the ride. 
Time to shake off the cold and get to fishing. What’s next are Frink’s favorite lure choices for February. 
Wacky rig/Neko rig
Frink’s first bait in his February lineup is the classic wacky rig/Neko rig. As winter begins to fade into spring, bass are still a little on the sluggish side. Frink knows the benefit of the subtle fall of a wacky in a variety of situations. 
“A wacky rig worm is just so versatile, because you can fish it weightless or add weight to it,” said Frink. “February is kind of getting into the prespawn in lots of places. With a weight, you can fish it out in 20 feet of water for prespawn schools. Or on the warmer days, you can remove it, or just add a light weight and skip it around shallow docks where the bass are warming up in the sunlight.”
Medium diving crankbait
Next up is a medium diving crankbait. Though Frink prefers a squarebill model when fishing in muddy water or around a lot of wood, this slightly deeper diver is more versatile in most places during February. Frink opts for a diver running at depths of 6 to 8 feet, like the MIBRO Cheator Type-R.
“Typically, red is hard to beat during the prespawn. If it’s a clearer lake, you’re going to want your crankbait to be a little deeper in that 6 to 8 feet range. A bait like this works great around rock and vegetation.” 
Deep diving jerkbait
Frink likes a deeper-diving jerkbait during February, like the MegaBass 110+1. A jerkbait is synonymous with wintertime fishing, but the deeper diving models often don’t get enough attention, according to Frink. That makes deeper-diving jerkbaits better equipped to reach the strike zone where bass often are staging this time of year. 
“It’s really good in February on bluff walls, particularly where the bluff goes from a more vertical bank to a flatter one,” said Frink. “Anywhere there’s a small cut in the bluff or a channel swing bank is typically where I like that little bit deeper diving jerkbait.”
Small paddle tail swimbait
Paddle-tail swimbaits can be used year-round to catch bass. But the smaller, 3-inch versions are particularly effective and versatile in February, according to Frink. Being able to fish this bait throughout a wide range of the water column, and in and around various types of cover, plants this little nugget firmly in Frink’s February lineup. 
“In some of the same areas where you throw the jerkbait, you can kind of let this bait pendulum down,” said Frink. “That includes bluffs and transitions to flatter banks. A swimbait on a light jighead really works well in grass too, in the in 2 to 8 foot range. You can keep it up on top of that grass, whether it’s eel grass or hydrilla.” 
As we make our way through Frink’s February arsenal, someone appears to be over all this. Apparently, Scout is in the mood for a little less talk and a lot more action. 
Spinnerbait with Colorado blades
Colorado-bladed spinnerbaits are commonplace anytime the water is cold and/or muddy. But Frink has found that big Colorado blades are especially effective at drawing in big bass. His theory is nothing that out of the ordinary although Frink has a unique take on this tactic, opting for really heavy spinnerbaits, even shallow.
“People have a hard time wrapping their minds around fishing a 1-ounce spinnerbait in a foot of water, but you need a heavier spinnerbait in order to use a big blade, or it’s going to roll on you,” said Frink. “I’ll use a 1-ounce head with a No. 6 Colorado blade and throw it right on the bank. The heavier head helps the bait stay upright, which keeps it from hanging as much as a lighter one would when it rolls on its side.” 
Swim jig
Swim jigs again represent a very versatile bait category for Frink, which makes them perfect for the month of February. Known as a great bait to fish through shoreline grass, Frink says that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Changing the weight, skirt color and trailer of the jig allows him to use the bait around multiple types of color. 
“I like fishing it around cover in cleaner water where you’d almost throw the spinnerbait, like around wood and rock,” said Frink. “Think of it as a finesse approach. When everybody else is throwing crankbaits, spinnerbaits and vibrating jigs, the swim jig might be something the fish haven’t seen. And it’s more weedless, so you could throw it in a laydown tree for instance, and get it into more places than you could a spinnerbait. 
Ball-head jig
Another late winter/prespawn favorite, the ball-head jig is a must-have that stays on deck for Frink. In February, bass are often staging in deeper water and more reluctant to hit larger baits with big flapping appendages, making the compact ball-head jig an obvious alternative. And this bait is one of the more versatile jigs in Frink’s opinion, so he can use one jig in lots of situations.
“It’s a good all-around jig for bluff walls and points. Especially if you can find a little rockpile in a creek on a secondary point or the side of a secondary point. And it’s just a good jig to throw that doesn’t get hung up as much to me. Instead of having three or four different jigs tied on, that one is kind of a do-all in February with rock, pea gravel and bluff walls.” 
Vibrating jig
Vibrating jigs compose another of those bait categories that offer a little something for any season of the year. Frink has found this to be a particularly important lure to use in a variety of ways during the early prespawn period.
“It’s really good for skipping under docks for prespawn fish. A vibrating jig is efficient for skipping and covering water, so it’s perfect for fishing around a lot of docks,” said Frink. “I use it for popping and ripping out of grass. I don’t really even throw a lipless crankbait anymore around grass during the prespawn. I just throw a vibrating jig when other anglers are using the lipless crankbait.” 
The sun is setting now on another chilly winter day. Time to head in and put it on the trailer. Thanks to Frink for offering up some February fishing tips that will hopefully help you on your next fishing trip.