Wateree bass leaving deep water for staging areas

Dearal Rogers catches Lake Wateree bass this month as they move up out of deep water and prepare for the prespawn.

Wateree bass are transitioning this month

February is a month of change. The weather is cold one day, warming the next. Snow, ice or freezing rain often quickly follow spring-like temperatures. But fishermen still go fishing and fish still bite. But you must know how to catch them in varying conditions. And this month, Wateree bass move to their staging areas.

Female bass in South Carolina’s Lake Wateree are triggered by longer days of sunlight and increasing periods of warming temperatures. They prepare to spawn and start staging on points in aquatic grass and on rock piles. Veteran angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden, S.C. loves chasing Wateree bass this month.

“The females feed in groups in early February. So I am on the lookout for multiple bites in one area,” Rodgers said. “If water conditions are favorable — with a warming trend and stained but not muddy water at a normal lake level — I like to use moving baits around rocks. Good lures for me include crawdad-colored No. 5, 7 or 8 Shad Raps and crawdad-colored 1/2- and 3/4-ounce Rat-L-Traps. For grass, I like a white 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with gold blades, and a white swim jig.”

Move to the coves and docks as weather warms

When conditions include a cold front, cooling water, high or muddy water, he slows down in the rocks. Then he works a Buckeye Mop jig or Spot Remover shaky head on the bottom. And he will continue casting a Shad Rap. It still draws a few bites in such conditions.

“For grass, I’m flipping a craw or worm on a 1/4-ounce to 5/16-ounce weight,” he said.

“As the weather continues a warming trend towards the end of the month, I start fishing back in the coves, looking for male and female cruising fish. I like to target these fish with a green pumpkin Mop jig on the warm days and the Spot Remover shaky head on the tough days.”

Any cover on the bank offers a good target in late February. But some of the best cover is provided by the many docks on Lake Wateree, according to Rodgers.

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