Why do bass fishermen circle February on the calendar? Maybe because cabin fever has reached the point where it’s breaking down all of their fishing blood cells, and they’ve got to get on the water for an antidote?
Getting on the water is half the battle. Spending a day or a half-day on your favorite reservoir will stop the disease in its tracks, but for a total cure, you’ve actually got to set the hook on something, preferably something chunky and green.
That’s where Marty Stone of Fayetteville, N.C., comes in. A retired bass pro who won more than $1 million in 23 years split between the BASS and FLW trails, he’s now an announcer for the popular Major League Fishing televised competition.
Here are five of Stone’s tips for February bass fishing:
• It’s daylight, not temperature.
“The most overrated thing in bass fishing is water temperature,” Stone said. “More important than anything in February is the length of the daylight hours. Every day, you get a few more minutes of daylight; forget water temperature.
“The increase in daylight hours is what makes bass move. A good area with warming temperatures will accelerate the bite, but fish that move into a good area will still bite, even in the water is cold.”
• Shallow water is better.
“These fish have been penned up, suspended under bait or out in deep water,” Stone said. “They want to move up to feed. I’ll always be fishing in four feet of water or less.”
• Water color matters sometime.
“In February, bass will bite in clear water or in dirty water,” he said. “The only thing you want to avoid is fresh, muddy water.”
• Moving baits catch more fish than bottom baits.
“Moving baits — small crankbaits, jerkbaits, vibrating jigs — will catch more fish that a bait sitting on the bottom in February,” he said. “What you see is the shad moving in, the bluegill moving in — the whole (food) chain is moving — and more of them are swimming than crawling or creeping along the bottom.”
• Draw the wild card when conditions are right.
“On the right day, with the right conditions, don’t rule out fishing a buzzbait,” Stone said, bringing up a bait that’s rarely spoken of in the same sentence with winter fishing.
“You look for a south or southwest wind, after three or four days of warmer weather, with the water temperature in the 50s. And believe me, fishing in February with a buzzbait, when you get bit, you’d better have both feet firmly on the (deck).”