The Big Girls Cometh

I’m up at 4am every morning to get my day started. From 4am to 6am when Lisa gets up, among other things, I usually spend a bit of time in prayer and reading scripture from the Bible. I also like to watch a little of the many videos from Billy Graham. This week I watched one of his sermons and he told the story of a young self-proclaimed atheist who walked to the front of the huge stadium in which Mr. Graham was speaking to a large crowd. The young man was holding up a watch, and he shouted out to Graham, “if your God is real, let him strike me dead in the next minute”. At that statement the whole stadium went silent, but then an elderly man standing near the atheist turned to him and said, “son, God has a lot more patience than just one minute“. Probably the best video I watched all week and I thank God for his patience.

This week was one of those weeks in February that I look forward to every year. You can’t stop the bass from doing what they do and in February some of the largest bass prepare for their spawn by running rock for a high protein meal this month. Some stay out over timber or on a deep bottom ditch feeding on shad but there’s some that prefer that warmer rock water and the little orange mudbugs that are spawning and molting in those rocks. Our Chattahoochee crawfish population likes to spawn when the water temps are in the 50’s and they can spawn several times a year. A few weeks after they spawn, they will molt and turn shades of orange, copper and red. When they turn these vibrant colors, they are highly visible moving around on the darker chunk rock and very easy picking for the bass. Knowing which rocks they occupy is both beneficial to the angler as well as beneficial for the bass. Here’s a few key factors I look for in rocks when looking for big fish in February can really help with your rock game. Probably, the first and most important is that there has to be deep water very near the rock early in the staging game. This week there needed to be 40 feet of water very near the rock. I believe that the fish are still oriented to the deeper water and run up and down the ledges and steep drop-offs when they are ready to feed. Secondly, I believe that the green slime that covers some of the rock I fish is a deterrent to the bass as well as the crawfish. From what I have researched and understand, the crawfish make noises on the rock with their hard tails when they spawn to attract other crawfish. They click their tails on the rock as some sort of mating call. That clicking sound is like a dinner bell to the bass and the reason some of our choices for lures work well. If a crankbait is banging and clicking as it contacts the rock, I believe that sound is an attractant to the bass, and they are drawn to the sound. The rock that gets covered in slim is counterproductive to this ritual. For this reason, and the lack of fish catches in the areas my lure of choice comes back with green slime on it, I try and avoid the green rock in favor of the clean hard, dark chunk rock. Thirdly, I look for rock with sun on it on the sunny days as I believe the bass are just like us, in that they love the warmer rocky areas to boost their metabolism.

On Monday I fished with my good friend Jeff Nail, who is a retired Army veteran (Airborne Ranger) and the owner of Jeff Nail Guide Service. Jeff and I decided to look at some areas north of Browns Bridge and one of the things we keyed on was rock that faced the sun early in the morning. One of the first places we stopped was a huge bluff that faced the sun and had deep water within a few feet of the bluff. It was the perfect area for what I look for in February and it paid off right away for Jeff. We hadn’t been on the stretch long and Jeff busted this 5.4lb toad on a shaky head, on the sunny rocks. It was a great way to start the week and a good sign of what’s to come.

After that rock run, we focused on two things, the first was steep chunk rock and the second was locating deeper fish in the ditches using a small swimbait. I will say this about this week, for us the bite seemed to follow that big ole moon up in the sky. For the most part, when the moon set, so did the bite. After the moon went down, it was a grind and finding fish got a lot harder. We ended our day with over a dozen fish with some being caught on the shaky head and some on the little swimbaits in and around the ditches.

If you’re looking to up your staging game on Lanier this month, Jeff is your guide. Give him a call as he’s fishing every day now and he has an array of tactics for catching fish in February. Here’s a few pics of our biggest for the day.

On Tuesday I was out by myself scouting rock and found a few on rocks and docks with the shaky head. I ran up lake and worked some rock from Bald Ridge to Vanns and located a few here and there but it was slow. Probably my most productive areas on Tuesday was sunny rock bluffs and some deeper shady docks with rocks nearby. Not sure why but the size was off just a bit on Tuesday, but numbers were good, and I finished the day with some decent fish.

On Wednesday I met up with my good friend Joe McVickers and we looked at a few things up lake. It was a bit of a miserable day with the weather and the cooperating fish but it was mainly about getting out with Joe for the fellowship. I first met Joe years ago while fishing up lake. Joe was sitting in his Ranger boat and we were fishing near each other. I went over and struck up a conversation with Joe and he showed me a few of his hair jigs he ties. We chatted for a while before I headed out, but I didn’t forget about Joe and his hair jigs. Fast forward to Jimbo’s gathering a few weeks back and I ran into Joe again at the expo. We chatted for a bit and we wound up swapping some lures. Joe showed me pictures of his new Ranger boat, a 50-year edition Ranger that was just beautiful. Joe had won the boat in a picture contest with Cabela’s, and I really wanted to check it out so we planned our trip for Wednesday. Joe and I weren’t really blessed with fish, but we were blessed with fellowship and that’s much more important than the tangible fish. I enjoyed every second of our trip and looking forward to the next one.

Yesterday I was skeptical because of the weather coming through but as luck would have it, the rain was minimal as the front approached. I think the front stalled out over our area for a brief period and the wind calmed down a bit. I checked the barometric pressure about 10am and it had dropped considerably. It was right at 30.01 and still dropping when I first checked. I went to a rock bluff where I had picked up a decent limit on Tuesday and it didn’t take long till I put my first keeper in the boat, a really nice 4.2-ounce fish. I was casting to the bluff from a depth of 40 feet and picked up the fish in about 30 feet of water. My next cast hit the bottom and I started slowly dragging my worm on the bottom when I felt that old familiar tick and I reeled down on another fighting fish, another solid keeper, a bit smaller than the last but still a good 3.3-ounce fish. From there I started moving around a bit but usually after a few releases the bite starts to slow, and I was satisfied with the two keepers. My next stop was at the mouth of the creek and another rock bluff. I set up the boat out in deeper water again and made long casts to the bluff. The first 5-6 cast came up empty, but I made a cast to a little rock pile at the end of the bluff, and I found what I was looking for when another bass thumped the worm. It was such a great fight all the way to the boat, and it was another solid fish off the rocks, and she weighed 3.14 ounce. From there I hit a little dry spell and the wind started to pick up again. I’ve been catching a few fish on this unsuspecting underwater point in a large bay with the wind blowing right into the bay. The underwater point had some brush out on the end in 25 feet of water and it had gravel rock back in the shallow area near shore. The fish had been migrating between the shallow gravel and the brush, so I started making casts in between the brush and the rock in about 20 feet of water. On my first cast I reeled down on a running fish that had picked up the bait as soon as it hit bottom. I knew this was a better fish and I grabbed the net. I thought that if I could land this one, I’d be working on a nice sack. when I boated the fish, I knew right away it was bigger than the 4.2 and when she dropped on the scale it read 4.9lbs.

At that point I started going over places in my mind where I thought I might get one more good fish and I thought of another rocky bluff in an area I call Kenny Bunkport because of the fancy long cruiser boat in a very nice dock. The fancy long boat was a Chriscraft and had a American flag on the back. I could just imagine the Kennedy clan riding around Martha’s Vinyard in this boat. It’s a place where I had been picking up a good one from time to time but recently it had produced nothing. Nonetheless it had dark chunk rock and that was what I was looking for yesterday. The wind was dying but there was a little bit of chop on the rock when I pulled up and made my first cast up onto the rocks in 15-20 of water. I could feel the worm falling down the chunk rocks and before I could get my first cast back to the boat, I felt a very faint tap on the worm. Hooksets are free in my boat, so I took a chance and set the hook on the tap. I was correct in my suspicions, and I had my fifth keeper on. I said a quick prayer and low and behold, I boated another nice fish to complete my sack, a feisty 3.11-ounce spot. At that point I was satisfied with my day, and I headed back to the house.

One change that I had made since fish with Jeff on Monday was changing to a lighter rod with a softer tip. Jeff was using a medium-fast rod while I had been using a medium heavy and occasionally breaking off fish. I had switched out my rig and loaded some 12lb Cast Co. braid Jeff had provided me on my Shimano Stradic Ci4 3000. I mounted the Stradic on a new 7.5 Mega Bass Levante spinning rod. I put a 6 foot leader of 8lb Tatsu fluorocarbon and married the two with my modified Alberto knot, appropriately called the “Jimberto” knot. I was really excited about the new rig and I gotta tell you guys, It felt great to bring in a 19-20lb sack on the first outing with the new rig. Here’s the pics of the fish and rig I was using yesterday, with 4 of the 5 fish coming from rocky bluffs.

Here’s a picture of the rig I was using for my shaky head this week.

Today I made a short trip through the creek and around a few other creeks to look at some stuff I hadn’t been fishing lately. I took some pictures of the type of stuff I fished this week. This is the stuff my larger fish have been coming from. It’s hit or miss on the rocks but when your timing is right, there are some big girls up on the rocks.

Things seem to be looking better and I feel like were just about to turn the corner with the water temps. I saw a 51ā€“52-degree average in the creek and lake level is a few inches below full pool. The corps did a few big generations early this week, but they are only generating for a few hours a day now. The shaky head did almost all the damage this week and it’s probably something I’ll be using more and more on the rocks as we approach spring.

4 thoughts on “The Big Girls Cometh

  1. Really enjoying your blog my man – and appreciate the tidbit on “patience”… question, is your lake similar to Bull Shoals in Arkansas? We’re headed down there from IL and I’m wondering if this advice could be applied?

    Thanks for sharing all of this info – really helpful.

    Have a great week.

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