It’s not that long until springtime fishing, and the fish don’t care anyway – they are too busy eating.
It’s enough to make an angler crazy. February days can be cold, blustery, and downright unpleasant. And then, the weather can be warm, sunny, and gentle. That’s how it is during springtime fishing in Alabama.
Alabama anglers on the wonderful lakes of our state will need to come prepared for any kind of weather for springtime fishing, and all equipment needs to be in good shape and ready for action. Motors, electronic gear, safety gear- it all needs to be working well. February is a good time to do a complete equipment and gear checkup and run-through to make sure everything is working right.
But the good news about springtime fishing is that the fish are starting to move into their spring feeding pattern and getting ready for the high-activity of spawning season. Anglers who can spend their time on the water finding the fish will usually be successful and come home with a full ice chest for some good early spring fish fries.
Of course, having and using a good PFD is very important. That February water is cold, and an angler who falls in the water won’t be able to swim long in the chilly water without help – have that PFD on!
Now, let’s see what some of Alabama’s best anglers can tell us about the February fishing on the wonderful lakes of our state.
Captain Sam Williams tells us that in February on Lake Eufaula, the weather dictates how springtime fishing trips go. On warm, sunny days, the bass can move up shallower and bite a bit quicker, but on most of the fishing trips scheduled for February, anglers looking for bass will want to slow down in their presentation of lures. Bass will be moving slowly, and lures worked too fast will usually be ignored.
“On warmer days, bass will pull up out of deeper water and hold on the stems and limbs in the water.”
Bass anglers should work the old leftover lily pad stems and blowdowns which present shoreline cover for bass. On warmer days, bass will pull up out of deeper water and hold on the stems and limbs in the water.
For most of February, bass anglers can fish Rat-L-Traps off the first ledge with good results. A slow retrieve will be best- don’t burn the lure back to the boat.
Crankbaits worked in deeper water with trash piles and old stumps in 12 to 22 feet of water can be good.
Captain Sam says, “Crappie will be great this month. Look around bridge pilings – try ultra-light spinning rigs with 4 lb. line using either small jigs or live minnows. Sometimes a combination of the two works best.”
For some real exercise, anglers can look for birds diving over open water. There will be white bass, hybrids, and stripers under the birds or big schools of shad, and the big striped fish will eagerly take silver and shad colored jigs, spoons, and top-water plugs.
Springtime fishing is very interesting for bass anglers on Lake Guntersville, according to Captain Jake Davis. This month is a very good time for trophy hunters to make a run to this big, northern Alabama lake and spend some time casting to very big bass.
Captain Jake tells us that big bass will be moving up into shallower water looking for lots to eat before they start their spawning work.
Rat-L-Traps and Texas rigged soft plastics work well on early spring big bass. The bass will be from ten feet deep to less than a foot, and they’ll be all over the lake. This shallow water pattern will only get better as the month goes on.
When the bass start their spawning, and this depends on the warm weather and warm rains that we might get in February, anglers will want to look at spawning bays in creeks and around new grass growth. The grass may only be an inch or so long now, but it is enough to hold lots of bass.
Captain Jake tells us that lures in cloudy water need to have a good shade of Guntersville red on them, but if the water is clear, more natural shad colors will be best.
Small jigs and live minnows will work for the bigger crappie at this time.
Springtime fishing gives catfish anglers a wide range of possibilities on Lakes Wilson and Pickwick. One day, the catfish may be on a tear and eating up everything. The next day, you’d swear there’s not a catfish in the lake. It will take patience and persistence this month.
Captain Brian Barton tells us that when the cats are found, they will be tightly schooled up, so anglers can catch a lot of good catfish – once they are located.
Cat hunters will want to look in 25-40 feet of water in the upper portions of the lakes. Bluffs and ledges with sharp bottom contours will be best.
When the dams are generating, anglers will want to work the upstream side of humps and islands below the dams.
On the lower end of Wilson, cats may be 90 to 100 feet deep at times, but 60-75 feet is usually a reliable depth to start fishing.
On another note, Captain Brian says that anglers can expect to meet up with some big, mean February striped bass below the dams. Anglers who fish the tailrace waters of either dam just downstream of turbine boils will likely encounter some hard-pulling striped fish. Anglers should use live shad for bait. Let the bait go to the bottom in the fast water. Weight requirements will depend on the amount of water coming through the dam. If there’s no bite in ten minutes, then a move is in order. The stripers, hybrids, and whites will be somewhere below the dams when water is running.
Our buddy Captain Lee Pitts gets excited when he talks about the fishing on Lake Weiss in February. He says, “February is when spring starts kicking in. Everything is heading to the creeks.”
This is a good month for long-line trolling for schools of crappie which are chasing shad. The crappie are not holding to shoreline cover yet, but are out in open water keeping up with the shad. Multiple rod setups work well, and Lew’s Slab Shaker rods in lengths from eight to twelve feet to vary the angle and depth of presentation work well.
Captain Lee likes 1/24 oz. Mo-Glo jig heads by Bobby Garland, and he really likes to thread a Bobby Garland Baby Shad or Slab Slayer grub body. He reminds us that at this time, the bigger crappie don’t want a lot of action on the lures, but rather a slow pull with just the action provided by the soft plastic lure is what is needed.
Bass at Weiss will be moving very shallow in February. Anglers should look for them to see them sweeping the bottom in hard-bottom areas getting ready for spawning. Clay banks can be good, but rock bottom is best at this time.
Captain Lee says, “I like Strike King square bill crankbaits, and Rat-L-Traps will work, too. I like something with chartreuse, orange or red accents. And I never go out this time of year without a black and blue colored jig ready to go.”
Captain Lee reminds us, “Some of our best fishing days are in February – for big fish and for lots of fish.”
Miller’s Ferry Lake
According to Joe Dunn of Dunn’s Sports in Thomasville, February will see the crappie on Weiss Lake starting their transition into spring and spawning. If the water temperatures hold chilly, the crappie will still be suspended in deeper water in sloughs and deep channels, but when the water temperature hits 60 degrees, the crappie will move shallow.
During springtime fishing, anglers can troll with jigs and live minnows in fifteen to ten feet of water to find the schools of crappie.
Dunn reminds us that some parts of the lake warm up sooner than others, and this can trigger earlier spawning. Hog Pen Slough, Marina Slough, and the Gee’s Bend areas all tend to be the first parts of the lake to warm enough to cause the crappie spawn to start.
Dunn says that as February moves along, the bass will start thinking about moving on the spawning banks. If we get some warm weather in February, they may move up in the grass along the shorelines and start bedding.
Important Contact Information
Capt. Brian Barton
Capt. Jake Davis
Mid-South Bass Guide Service
Hwy. 43, Thomasville, AL
Capt Lee Pitts
Capt Sam Williams
Hawks Fishing Guide Service