February is a productive month to catch big pre-spawn bass in almost any Mississippi lake. To catch big bass, go where you can find those big bass and have the least amount of fishing pressure.

I like Lake Archusa near Quitman in February because of its good-sized healthy bass. Some years ago, the dam there had problems, so it was drained and restocked. This 300-acre lake is relatively shallow and doesn't have much fishing pressure. The lake fishes two different ways, according to the amount of rain received. One main creek runs through it, and I'll concentrate most of my fishing on the upper end of the lake, fishing new vegetation in the shallow water and the creek channel.


If the water's up

If a lot of rain has fallen at the end of January or during February, I'll primarily fish bushes at the back end of the lake. I'll use a three-pronged attack. I'll start off with a Baby 1-Minus, followed by a Mann's HardNose Freefall worm and finally a 3/8-ounce Stone Jig.

This lake doesn't have a lot of bushes, and if you fish it during the middle of the week, you often can have the bushes to yourself.

I'll be casting the Baby 1-Minus on the side of the bush first to try to pull those bass out and get them to eat the lure. I like the Baby 1-Minus in red, and I'll be swimming it on a medium retrieve. I'll be fishing with a 7:1-gear-ratio Pinnacle Reel with 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line and a 6-1/2-foot medium-action Pinnacle Rod. I'll be trying to catch active fish.

If the fish aren't active, I'll go to my second bait, a 5-inch watermelon-red HardNose Freefall Worm. I won't have any weight on the line. I'll throw this worm as close as I can to the bush, and let it freefall right beside the bush, hopefully to attract a bass that's not active. That bass will only have to move a few inches to eat the worm. Remember this really shallow water will be cold, so I'll use a slow-falling presentation. I'll still be fishing 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line on the same rod and reel set-up that I used with the Baby 1-Minus.

Then I'll fish the heart of the bush with a 3/8-ounce black/blue Stone Jig and a black/blue Mann's HardNose Crawfish Trailer. I'll remain away from the bush, but I can pitch that jig right to its center. If the bass is there and takes the bait, the bite will happen quickly because the fish are holding in very shallow water. As soon as that jig hits the bush and starts to fall, you need to be ready to set the hook.

I'll also be pitching this jig around wood out in the water like stumps and logs on an 8-foot Pinnacle Flipping Rod with a 6:1-gear-ratio reel and 40-pound-test braided Line. As soon as that fish takes the bait, I'm not setting the hook hard, but I am trying to jerk the bass out of that bush or away from that stump or log.

There are some really good-sized fish in Lake Archusa, and you may catch five bass during February there that will weigh 20+ pounds.



If the water's not up

If rain doesn't fall at the end of January or in February at Archusa, I'll fish a deep-water tactic on the edge of the creek channel. I'll watch my depth finder and look for points and stumps, fishing a 1/2-ounce Stone Jig and a Mann's C-4 Elite Series crankbait.

First I'll attempt to catch active fish using that C-4 crankbait by crashing it into underwater stumps and logs on the edges of creek channels. Once again, I'll be using a red crankbait, 15-pound-test fluorocarbon with a Pinnacle 7:1-gear-ratio reel and a 7-foot medium-action rod. The C-4 will run about 4- to 5-feet deep.

When my crankbait hits a stump, I'll keep the bait coming to me until it's clear of the stump or the log, and then I'll pause the bait for just a minute. That's usually where a strike will occur. Don't let the bait pause the instant it hits the wood, because the bait then will have a tendency to hang-up. When you start your retrieve, run the bait somewhat faster than you have when it's hit the stump to give the crankbait the appearance of a stunned baitfish that's just awakened and spotted something about to eat it.

If the crankbait doesn't produce the size or number of bass I think I should be catching, I'll start fishing the 1/2-ounce Stone Jig in the black/blue with a black/blue HardNose Crawfish for a trailer around the same stumps on the edges of the channels where I fished the crankbait. However, I'll bring the Stone Jig off the lip of the break slowly and fish it out deeper for pre-spawn, schooled-up female bass that are waiting for those first warming days to move into shallow water and spawn.

I believe on a good February day using these tactics, I'll catch 10 to 12 bass with one or two in the 5- to 8-pound range, and the rest of the bass weighing from 2 to 4 pounds at Lake Archusa.