West Point: Level: 3.7 feet below full. Temp: 49-51 degrees. Clarity: Slight stain before the rains came at the end of February.
Bass: “They’re on and off right now,” said guide Paul Parsons. “I think cold fronts and water temperatures are going to be the main things that will affect the fishing.” Paul said some days he is catching tons of bass and some days, he’s having to work hard for bites. “The bass are moving shallow on the warming trends,” Paul said. “With the warm weather right at the end of February and the beginning of March, it’s about to really turn on.” Paul said early in the day, he will concentrate on main-lake points and secondary points in the pockets. If a point has a brushpile on it, Paul likes a Texas-rigged finesse worm or a jig. On the points with no brush, he drags a Carolina rig. “Green pumpkin or junebug are good colors,” Paul said. If you want to catch some spots, the same baits fished a little deeper will work. Paul said spotted bass seem to really like chartreuse, so try dipping the tail of your finesse worm in chartreuse dye, or throw a chartreuse/pepper flake worm. As it warms up, the fish will move back in the pockets, especially those with small feeder creeks flowing in. If you find a pocket with bait in it, a spinnerbait, a 1/4-oz. Rat-L-Trap, or a small, shallow-running crankbait like the Bandit will be the ticket. “If there’s bait, there should be some bass,” Paul said. When the baitfish are shallow, you’ll see them running from feeding bass. Another great late-day pattern will be small, crawfish pattern crankbaits along rip-rap banks. “I like a No. 7 Shad Rap,” Paul said. “Just about any of the small crankbaits in a crawfish color are good along the rocks.” Paul said some anglers are catching rip-rap bass on spinnerbaits as well. “The backs of pockets and the rip-rap is something to do later in the day when it warms up,” Paul said. “On cold days or early, stay on the points.”
Hybrids: The hybrids are still on the main lake, but look for them to head up the river in the next few weeks. When they get upriver, the fishing can be fantastic. Guide Bobby Wilson says anglers can catch hybrid bass right now on live bait, either on big flats or above standing timber on channel edges. Bobby prefers to troll with crankbaits. “You can do it with live bait, but I like pulling Bandits and Shad Raps,” Bobby said. When the fish get up the river later in the month, the fishing will be phenomenal. Paul is on a trolling bite, with hybrids hitting small crankbaits like Bandits and Shad Raps. Paul will also pull Sassy Shads or curly-tail grubs on 1/4-oz. jig heads around standing timber on channel bends. Like Bobby, he is ready for the hybrids to move up the river. “Some fish might already be headed up, and when the water temperature hits 60 degrees, they’ll be on fire,” Paul said. He will fish up the river with Carolina-rigs. If the water is muddy, he’ll be throwing cut shad or chicken livers. Paul normally rigs with a 3/4- to 1-oz. sinker and a No. 2 Eagle Claw wide-gap hook. If the hybrids get finicky, just tapping at a bait, Paul will downsize to a No. 4 hook and a smaller piece of shad.
Crappie: The crappie are biting, and Bobby is fired up about what’s to come in the next few weeks. “The other day we caught 30 fish,” Bobby said. “Out of those, half were good-sized fish.” Bobby is trolling with double-rigged jigs in 18 to 20 feet of water. He says the fish are usually holding around the tops of submerged timber in water 12- to 14-feet deep. Bobby uses 1/16- and 1/12-oz. jigs. He says anglers should not shy away from the hair jigs like Hal Flys and Jiffy Jigs. “That’s what we’re catching the biggest fish on right now,” Bobby said. He said the crappie are nearing the mouths of most creeks and will be heading up when the water warms up. They are already going strong in Wehadkee between the trestle and the bridge. “Wehadkee, Yellow Jacket, Whitewater; the big creeks are going to be great,” Bobby said. Later this month, go to single-rigged jigs and troll in shallow water.