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February 2018 Fishing Report

1/31/2018 12:46:42 PM

Hello readers and welcome to another of my fishing prognostications. Hey, I have no idea what that word means either but I will try to be spot on in my suggestions for fishing the various species this month! Some have said that the only good thing about February is if the Ground Hog sees and/or doesn't see his shadow. It all depends upon whether your outdoors activities entail fishing or some snow related activity. We in the south pretty much can count out the latter but we most assuredly can go fishing. I am constantly amazed that many die hard anglers never go out until spring. Some refuse to go because of the cold while other simply think fish do not bite during this month. To deal with the first thought let me offer these suggestions. There are now all manners of clothing that will keep one toasty even in below freezing temperatures. One need not spend an arm and leg on expensive snow apparel. Most folks can afford to dress in layers from clothes already in their closet. Two or three thing layers and a woolen or polypropylene out layer will do the trick when covered by a wind resistant outer garment. The clothing that I used to wear in my less informed days weighed 35 pounds. Sure, I stayed warm, often too warm! Now my clothing weighs around 8 pounds and I almost never get cold or too hot. Staying warm is the first mandate in the fishing game. It matters not how well the fish bite and I assure you that it can be fantastic, if you are cold you will not enjoy the fishing regardless of how well the fish are biting. Having said that, let me suggest ways to catch fish during this month.

Black bass will be sluggish during the first week to ten days of the month and will require a fineness approach to catching them. They seem to bite much better in the late evening as the sun warms the weather a few degrees so that is when I go out with my clients. Suspend Jerk Baits work very well during this time period. I like to have some visible above water structure like standing timber, bridge columns, or concrete rip-rap. It has never been proven to me that these features make the water around them warmer but that does not matter. For whatever reason bass will suspend around these types structure and will nail the Jerk Bait. Make long cast parallel to the structure, pull the lure down rapidly and then allow it to slowly rise near the structure. The suspended bass is too cold to give chase to a rapidly moving lure, but the slowly rising one, just beside it will provoke a strike. Be advised that this strike will usually just be a soft tap or a feeling that the lure is snagged. In either case set the hook with a sweeping motion since a hard set will often pull the lure free. It will amaze those of you who think the fish or sluggish this time of year how quickly the bass comes to life, when the big girl steps on the gas and makes a dash for freedom. A rod with good backbone and a very fast tip are the gear for this type fishing.

For those of you who insist on being on the lake at sunup out of preference or because you are a tournament angler it is possible to catch bass in the early morning hours. Finesse baits like the shaky head jig with four inch trick worm or heavier jig and trailer work best when fished in the above mentioned structure. The trick is to fish them very slow-much slower that one thinks it can be done. Think in terms of watching grass grow. The area in the Trinity River above Highway 66 will be one of the hot spots and a place where savvy anglers head. It could be because every year during tournaments, 28 to 30 pound stringers or turned in by some lucky and/or smart angler. My favorite spot is on the Miller Creek arm on the rip-rap along that road or along the railroad track. The bass here will take white spinnerbaits and jerkbaits. The west shoreline in this area is also a great bet, especially late in the afternoon when the water warms. Towards the end of the month the bass will move into the shallows on the west bank north of I-30 on the big lake side. These fish will nail lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits and the lures can be fished much faster.

Hybrids and sandies will still be in the main lake on long points and near the levees in deep water. For whatever reason the bite is usually better in the late afternoon unless there is a heavy cloud cover with a north front approaching. It throws a monkey wrench in the theory that the bite in the afternoon is because the water has warmed. My belief is that it has to do with light penetration and how the fish see the lure. Good fishing will occur down lake on all the long points during the first of the month. Towards the middle of the month the sandies and hybrids will move up near and beyond I-30 near Robinson Park where they stage until moving water tells them to head up either Rowlett Creek or the East Fork of the Trinity River. This by no means that all the fish will move up these streams. My clients and I seldom go up either because either can be a nightmare to navigate and they are a good ways from where I launch. Probably less than half the fish go up these flowing streams, although either spot can offer unparalleled fishing. Often one can anchor up the Trinity and cast into the eddy water and catch 50 to over a 100 sandies from one spot. Knowing that, I still prefer to fish the main lake. Either way you go folks, the fishing can be spectacular.

Earlier last month I took my clients cat fishing under the Comorant roosts. Using slip corks that had a stop three to four feet up the line, we pitched chicken gizzards and hearts along with prepared catfish bait up near those those trees. The trick is to make the bait plop when it hits the water. I will not go into the why it works since I think the astute person can figure it out. The bite was fast and furious once the fish were located and we usually caught three or more from the same tree. After a few minutes we would move on to the next spot. This type fishing should remain strong until the end of the month when the cormorants start north. There is an unbelievable school of big blue cats located just south of the I-30 bridge in front of the Hilton Inn. Cut bait or fresh caught shad on Santee Rigs will get one's line stretched and may possibly get the angler a new Ray Hubbard record. This is no fishing for light weight rods and lines. Use twenty pound test with heavy rods and strong reels and circle hooks and one should be ready to do battle.

Crappie have been strange so far this year. It is time for them to begin to move into the marinas and shallower water but so far they have remained in the deepest water. I attribute this phenomenon to the cold weather we had which moved most of the shad out into deep water. The crappie follow and will remain out there until the warming water brings the shad in to the shallows to spawn. A good warming spell should take care of this part of the equation. At this time there are some crappie coming from the deeper holes up Rowlett Creek and the East Fork. As it warms the fishing will greatly improve. My best advice during the first of this month is to fish the deepest water under the bridges near the columns.

Folks it will get warmer one of these days. At this point who knows whether Sam will see his shadow or not but do not let that influence your trip to the lake. On the good side it just might be cloudy here! Great fishing to all you readers and please be careful out there folks. That water is too cold to go for a swim even though those member of the Polar Bear Club do not seem to mind. I will reserve judgment on what I thin of their sanity for a later column.

The Cajun Guide/Johnny Procell 972-814-8942


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