Oconee: Level: Full pool. Temp: Mid 40s to 50 degrees. Clarity: Heavily stained; the huge orange mud flow has finally left. Richland Creek is more clear.
Bass: Tournament pro Aaron Batson reports, “Bass fishing is slow. Water temps have recently dropped to 43 to 46 degrees. These cold temps and heavy rains have hit the bite hard. Bass are holding in 4 to 8 feet of water on sunny and warmer days. Look for red clay and rocky banks with sun. Fish can be caught on slow-rolled spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps and jigs. Make several casts to objects, and fish baits very slowly. Some bass are also deep, mainly down the lake in 22 to 28 feet of water. They are being caught on spoons and on flukes on lead-head jigs. Later this month, most bass will think about getting shallower and feeding up for the spawn.”
Crappie: Guide Doug Nelms reports, “This is the time of the year when us guides get really busy, and the dedicated crappie fisherman show up en masse. Most of us pull our long poles down from the garage ceilings and begin our two-month long search for those BIG crappie. The fish have moved deep, and even at the time of this report we are catching fishing below 20 feet. The long pushing rods are ideal for this type of bite. I fish 12 rods out the front of my boat and typically use 1/2-oz. of lead. On the business end of the line I have my favorite Jiffy Jigs tipped with minnows, and we troll (push) very slowly over the contours and deep-water points. This time of year we can be all over the lake, from north Apalachee and Redlands all the way down to Rocky Creek off the Richland Creek side. The major flooding has subsided and the orange water color has faded to its typical stain. Richland, Rocky and Sandy were the first creeks to clear up, and the Oconee and Apalachee are trying really hard to do so. But when the full moon gets here on Feb. 22, it really doesn’t matter how muddy the water gets, they’re gonna bite. My favorite colors this time of year are black/blue, black/purple and the sexy red bug. We are seeing some really nice crappie already coming to the boat, and if everything holds the same, this is going to be an awesome month for crappie fishing.” Guide Al Bassett reports, “The water temperature may drop a little but should be in the upper 50s near the end of February. Most of the lake is stained to muddy. Due to all the rain there are a lot of items floating. I have seen and heard from many fisherman they are seeing logs as big as telephone poles, so use caution while running the lake. Fishing is currently slow, but if you are looking for big fish, this is the time of the year you should be on the water. The large females will move into spawning first as they are on the move now to the shallow waters. When we have a few warm days in a row, these fish will move shallow. Trolling is the best method to use this time of year due to the fact you will be able to cover a lot of water. Using Jiffy Jigs tipped with a minnow is your best bet. 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. The Dyars Pasture area and up the Oconee River above the 278 bridge are good places to get your day started.” Guide Jody Stephens said, “The main lake is heavily stained, and the Richland arm is very fishable and not as stained. As of late January, crappie and striper/hybrid action has been good with long line trolling still producing good catches. This may not hold true in February if water temps drop to mid 40s. You will have to fish deeper, slow down, and tip your Jiffy Jigs with minnows to entice sluggish fish. Keep your eyes on water temps. And use your Lowrance electronics to find and target fish in deeper water this time of year. An early spawn migration in late February may be possible for crappie if temps are higher than normal in late February, but that’s up to Mother Nature.”
Linesides: Guide Doug Nelms reports, “I love striper fishing this time of year, but this year it has been exceptional. The live-bait bite has just been incredible since the first of the year, and we have been boating 25 to 30 fish per half day for some time now. We haven’t had the bird and schooling fish activity that we love so much every year because I think the water has just been too muddy. But if you drop a live bait down and give them a moment, they will find it! There has been no particular time to be out there either because the fish have bit just about all day. I actually posted last month that I typically don’t put a live bait on my boat this time of year, but that definitely changed in January, and I see the pattern following right through February. The big fish will show up strong this month, and we have already boated several over 10 pounds. Downlining, flatlines and planer-board fishing have all produced, and you never know from one day to the next which one will be better. The spoon bite has been unbelievably slow, and again, I think it is due to how muddy the water has been.”