Tactics for February Lunker Bass
Day 1: February Bass Fishing with Allen O’Dell
Editor’s Note: February is sort of winter and sort of spring, but it’s entirely a good month for catching bragging bass. If you long to put one of these “in-between” fish into your livewell, try this advice. The month of February often brings some of the biggest catches of monster bass into the livewells of anglers. These fish generally are pre-spawners that have gained weight all winter long, are full of eggs and waiting for the warmer days to trigger the spawning instinct.
Allen O’Dell of Clanton, Alabama, hit on one of these bass-bonanza February days. He was bass fishing in a slough off the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in central Alabama. O’Dell remembers, “The date was February 24. There was quite a bit of wind, so the slough was the only place I could angle without being blown all over the river. The air temperature was around 70 degrees, and I was fishing just ahead of a cold front that was coming through the area. I felt strange fishing in shirt sleeves at the end of February. I was casting my spinner bait down the bank when I noticed a large school of fish out in the middle apparently feeding. At first I thought they were carp. Then, I decided they might be bass. So, I eased over to within casting distance and threw a single-spin, white spinner. The instant I started the retrieve, a big bass hit. I was by myself and didn’t know if I would be able to land the fish. But, I finally got the 8-pound, 1-ounce bass in the net and in the boat. I looked back, and the school was still there. I cast again. This time I caught a bass that weighed just over 5 pounds. In four consecutive casts, I took four bass that each weighed over 5 pounds. But, then the action cooled, and I couldn’t get the bass to hit the spinner bait. I changed over to an old Bagley’s DB-3 crankbait that had a black back and a chrome body. On the next two casts, I caught two more bass before the action stopped. In less than 15 minutes, I had caught six bass – five of which were over 5 pounds. I continued to work the school and ended-up with nine bass that weighed 43 pounds in less than 2 hours. Evidently, the warm weather brought the big bass to the surface and caused them to start feeding on shad right on the surface.”
Apparently three factors triggered the bass bonanza for O’Dell. First of all, there was a cold front moving-in, which most anglers know, triggers fish to be more-active feeders. Also, the day’s temperature was unusually warm. Although warm February days are rare, occasionally there will be some. Another factor was the wind, which had caused the baitfish to swim into the pocket out of the wind. At least these seemed to be the best explanations for the big-bass schooling frenzy that O’Dell found.