Fishing Ross Barnett’s February fronts

Even in the colder part of February, you can catch some nice-sized keeper bass on crankbaits and jerkbaits.

Depending on the fronts moving through in February, bass may be in 1-10 feet or more of water and be super aggressive or slow to bite. A cold front at the beginning of February may occur with a 32 degree air temperature; or 50-60 degrees in a warm front, which is when bass will be in the lily pad stems in water 1 foot or less.

Early February

I’ll key in on the rocks and riprap near the dam and in Pelahatchie Bay. I’ll fish three crankbaits to determine where the bass are — a Mann’s Baby 1-Minus, a C4 crankbait and a T15+ crankbait — and a suspending jerkbait. In cold weather, I expect to catch the bass in water 8-10 feet deep on the rocks with a crawfish-colored T15+ crankbait on 12-pound test White Peacock fluorocarbon line with a 6.2:1 ELS Bruin reel and a 7’1” medium action FX custom cranking rod. I’ll start by fishing at a 45 degree angle from the edge of the rocks to the boat, bumping the crankbait into the rocks. Then, I’ll cast parallel to the rocks and crank the T15+ slowly. I want to be able to feel the bill of that crankbait kicking off the rocks as it swims.

Also in cold weather, I’ll cast a suspending jerkbait in a Table Rock color with a purple back, chartreuse sides and a little bit of an orange belly. I’ll use an 8:1 ELS reel with 10 pound fluorocarbon on a 6’6” medium action FSX custom rod, jerk the lure down to 8-10 foot deep, pause it for 10 seconds and jerk it again. I expect to get the bite when the jerkbait’s sitting still. Watching your line to see the bite is very important to success.

On warmer days, bass will pull up to the edge of the rocks. I’ll switch to slow retrieving a red Baby 1-Minus and a crawfish-colored Mann’s C4 crankbait, if most of my strikes are in 1-4 foot deep water. The sun heats up the rocks, the baitfish move up to that shallower water, and the bass will follow them. I want my crankbaits to kick off the rocks. I’m fishing for a reaction strike. The water temperature will dictate at what depth the bass are concentrating.

Later in February

Once Ross Barnett has more warm fronts than cold fronts, the bass will move into the dead, shallow, lily pad stems on the eastern, shallow side of the lake. I’ll fish the stems slowly with a 3/8-ounce bladed jig in a fire orange with a black blade and a crawfish-colored swimming trailer that puts off vibrations to cause a bass to attack. I want the bladed jig to kick off the lily pad stems. Since it’s not completely weedless, you will get hung up sometimes. I’ll fish the bladed jig on 20-pound fluorocarbon on a 7’6” medium heavy FX custom cranking rod with a 7.3:1 ELS Bruin reel.

The last lure Elias will fish before leaving the lily pad stems in February is a spinnerbait. He can swim it slower than any other lure and crash it into the stems.

Once two or three warm days occur toward the end of February, the bass will be holding so shallow you may see their backs out of the water. That’s when the Baby 1-Minus in a shad color called Grey Ghost seems to produce more bass than the bladed jig in the shallow stems. I’ll fish this small crankbait on a 7’ medium heavy FSX custom rod and 20-pound fluorocarbon on a 7.3:1 Bruin reel. You’ll have a chance of catching some fairly heavy bass when they’re shallow. That’s when I prefer 20-pound fluorocarbon that’s strong enough to get those bass back to the boat.

The last bait I’ll use in the lily pad stems will be a 3/8-ounce Classic Spinner Bait with gold blades and a chartreuse-and-white skirt. I get more bites with gold blades than I do with nickel or painted blades. I like to use this spinner bait in somewhat deeper water in the stems because I can reel it slower than the bladed jig and let it kick off the stems. I’ll fish the spinner bait in 3-4 foot deep water where I’ve fished the bladed jig. I’ll use an FX custom rod with heavy action with 20-pound fluorocarbon on a 6.2:1 Bruin ELS reel.

February weather dictates the water depth and the structure where the bass will be holding and also how many bass you may expect to catch. On cold days, catching five or six bass is a good day. On warmer days, I expect to catch 15-20 prespawn bass, 5 pounds or more. At Ross Barnett in February, you possibly may catch a 7-8 pound bass. If I can pick a February day to fish Ross Barnett, I prefer a south, southeast or northeast wind. A west wind will muddy up the west side of the lake, making catching bass much more difficult.

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About Paul Elias 179 Articles
Paul Elias, of Laurel, has fished 15 Bassmaster Classics with career winnings of over $1 million, including one Bassmaster Classic Championship. Elias also holds the current record for a four-day BASS tournament weigh-in with 132 pounds, 8 ounces, on Falcon Lake in Texas.

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