Oconee: Level: Full pool. Temp: 53 degrees in the mid-lake and 55-56 on the south end. Clarity: Light stain.
Bass: Fair to good. Guide and tournament pro Tony Couch said lots of different patterns are working right now. “Rat-L-Traps and small square-billed crankbaits will work well on shallow flats near spawning areas, and spinnerbaits are working around seawalls and rip-rap. Black jigs and a variety of soft plastics work best around shallow docks in spawning coves.”
Crappie: Excellent. Guide Al Bassett reports, “If you are looking for big fish, this is the time you should be on the water. The large females will move into spawning first, and they are on the move now to the shallow water. Trolling is the best method to use because you will be able to cover a lot of water. Use Jiffy Jigs tipped with a minnow. Put out as many different colors as you can, but take notes on which ones you are catching fish on and change the other rods to that color. If we have a few cold days in a row, these fish will just back off into deeper water and will move up and down in the water column until they move back shallow. Some good areas for these fish are Sugar Creek, Rocky Creek and Lick Creek. The Dyar Pasture area is still good, but smaller fish are being caught.” Guide Doug Nelms reports, “February is when those big crappie start showing up. Using the spider-rig technique, we will begin to target the transition points from where the river channel comes up into the immediate flats. Our primary colors for this time of the year are black/blue/black and black/purple/black Jiffy Jigs. However, the fine people at Jiffy Jigs put together a special jig for me that I like to call the sexy red bug, which is chartreuse/red-flake/chartreuse. This jig seems to work well in Lick Creek and up the Apalachee River. We are tipping all of our jigs with minnows and fishing around 7 feet deep. On a warm day, the fish might move up into the shallows without warning, so always be on the lookout.” Tony Couch said to fish in the major creeks and bigger coves on the main lake. “Jigs tipped with minnows and trolled in 3 to 8 feet of water are producing many filled livewells with a lot of big crappie,” Tony said.
Catfish: Slow to fair. Guide Chad Smith reports, “With water temps still in the high 40s to low 50s around the lake, look for the catfish around any deep point close to any main-lake channel or river channel with a steep drop-off this month. The best place to start looking is around the River Bend area, and work your way to the dam. Fish any steep drop-off or deep channel you can find. The catfish are scattered. February is all about moving and searching. The best technique to do this is drifting. Move the baits 0.4 – 0.7 mph. The best baits have been live jumbo shiners, crappie heads and cut gizzard shad. Once the water cools into the low 40s, don’t be hesitant to downsize your baits and tackle.”
Linesides: Guide Mark Smith said, “The fish are showing up on both ends of the lake. The bigger fish are on the upper end of the lake from I-20 to the Swords ramp. Fish live bait on downlines for the best results. The other bite is on the south end of the lake. Look for large schools of bait and pull a Capt. Mack U-rig in and around this bait. This pattern will hold as long as the water temp stays in the 50s.” For a mix of white bass, hybrids and small stripers, Tony Couch said to fish the upper ends of the major creeks and rivers with small crankbaits and white or chartreuse jigs. “The fish are starting their move up the major creeks and rivers for their spawning runs,” Tony said.