Art Lander’s Outdoors: Black bass fishing improves as temperatures moderate from mid to late February

Early February is halfway through the 89-day winter season.

Yes, it can still be unusually cold for the season, with periods of snow, but usually there are also heat waves. As daylight hours lengthen and temperatures begin to moderate, black bass fishing improves.

Here are some gear and techniques that are effective throughout February, right through to the pre-spawn period, which typically begins in March on Kentucky reservoirs.

Largemouth Bass:

Professional fisherman Kaoru O’Bryan with a largemouth bass (Photo by Kaoru O’Bryan)

Professional tournament angler Kaoru O’Bryan reminds anglers that generalizations may not apply.

“Not all lakes are the same,” said O’Bryan, who grew up in Louisville and has been playing bass tournaments since 1986. “You have to follow the baitfish.”

Conventional wisdom holds that retrieves are slower and fish are deeper, but that’s not always the case. “Amazingly, I caught big fish in five feet of water while flipping a jig in 44 degree water at Lake Taylorsville.”

Wind and water conditions are critical factors in finding largemouth bass during the winter.

“In clear, cold water, baitfish go deeper,” O’Bryan said. “On sunny days, the bigmouth can hang under the baitfish. Use your chart to find them.

A swimbait, which can be counted down to the depth at which the large mouth suspends, is a good choice of lure in this situation.

Wind can also factor in the location and feeding of largemouth bass. What happens on the fine gravel points of Lake Kentucky is a good example.

When the winds shift to the southwest and the water temperature drops from the upper 40 degrees to the lower 50 degrees, swarms of plankton are blown over the main lake and secondary points.

Since baitfish feed on these microscopic plants and animals, schools of largemouth bass join in the frenzy and feast on the baitfish.

“The baitfish will be where the plankton is,” O’Bryan said. “The Rat-L-Trap (a lipless crankbait) is a good choice of lure there because it can be fished deep or deep.”

When fishing for largemouth bass in the winter, O’Bryan recommends reducing line size and fishing smaller baits.

One of his favorite winter lures is the No. 5 Shad Rap. “It’s got a tight swing like a shad,” O’Bryan said. “I fish it on spinning tackle and 10 pound clear monofilament line.”

Target coverage is the creek channel points, fishing the lure with a slow retrieve. “(Momentarily) speeding up the recovery can cause the lure to deviate (out of cover) and it can trigger a strike. In winter bass don’t strike as hard, sometimes their stings are just a subtle tic,” O ‘Brian.

Some of his other lure choices for winter largemouth bass fishing are 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce jigs because they are lighter and slower dropping, hanging hard plastic baits, plastics mounted on a 1/8 oz. shaking head. jig and jigging spoons.

Smallmouth Bass:

February is a prime time to fish Float n’ Fly on Dale Hollow Lake and Lake Cumberland, but this winter technique will work on any lake or river in Kentucky when the waters are clear because it’s winter. a sight presentation.

a selection of float ‘n fly jigs (Photo by Art Lander)

Float n’ Fly was perfected in Tennessee in the early 1990’s and is very effective on smallmouth bass when the water is clear and the water temperature is below 50 degrees. The finesse presentation targets suspended fish. Occasionally, Largemouth Bass and Kentucky (Spotted) Bass will also be caught.

The term Float n’ Fly is a bit misleading as it is actually a jig and bobber rig, with a 1/32, 1/16 or 1/8 ounce lead head jig fished on a long leader (10 feet or more) below. a 1-inch pear-shaped plastic float.

The ideal scenario is a front with wind, which helps break up the surface and creates current. The most difficult fishing is done in calm, clear weather, when anglers have to fish on shaded banks.

Anglers use moderately light, 8 to 9 1/2 foot long, fast action spinning rods and reels spooled in six pound test line.

Cast to a deep channel bank and let the fly settle. The bobber will move very slightly in the wind. Keep the tip of the rod up and a taut line on the bobber. This will cause the fly to squirm, like a cold-stressed baitfish.

Bass thinks it’s an easy meal and leaves with the fly. Adjust the hook as the bobber sinks, floats sideways, or moves horizontally.

Most anglers rig their own jigs.

Float n’ Fly jigs are lead head jigs tied with craft hair and/or brightly colored ponytails, with strips of shiny synthetic material that add flash. The jigs are intended to mimic baitfish – gizzard and threadfin shad, or alewife. A top hook choice is a #4 Mustad Accu-Point bronze finish on a 1/16 ounce jig head.

The winter smallmouth bass is not shy. They actively feed even on windy and snowy days.

A good fishing strategy is to position your boat parallel to a bluff (channel) bank, where the wind blows into the bank, and cast hanging jerk baits, swimbaits, or Alabama rigs.

Fish for winter black bass when water and weather conditions are optimal. Try a variety of lures and presentations and fish at different depths until you find fish.

The bites may be fewer and far between, but your chances of catching a “wall mount” are good.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoor editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University, and a hunter, fisherman, gardener, and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine reporter, and author and is a former editor of Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-editor of the Kentucky Newspaper Column. Afield Outdoors.

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