In the month of February, the water temperatures on Lake Murray will begin to warm by the end of the month. Fish will continue to move from their winter patterns into their pre-spawn patterns, bringing the fish closer to the banks and into the shallows. Focus should be on the main flow areas of the lake and around the mouths of creek arms in the color transitions on secondary points, as well as steep banks, focusing on rock and hard bottom areas.
On the upper reaches (from Dreher Island up river) of the lake, and in the backs of main lake coves where the water has more color, look for fish to be positioned in the deep water closest to shore and starting to show up on shoreline cover, such as laydowns, docks and rocky banks. This can be relative to the area. It could be a ditch in a pocket, a deep bank of a creek channel, the side of a point, or the end of a point that drops into a ditch or creek channel in front of a spawning bay. Typically, fish will be holding relatively close to deep water, 10 foot or more, and starting to position even shallower by the end of the month. Techniques of choice should be slower techniques with crayfish and shad mimicking baits. Good lures of choice are Greenfish Michael Murphy Signature High Class Spinnerbaits, umbrella rigs rigged with Reins Pearl White 3″ Rockvibe Shad or Herring colored 3.25″ Fat Rockvibe shad, crankbaits like the Ima Pinjack 200 or the flat sided Ima Shaker, Greenfish jigs; Soft Plastics or Finesse worms, creature baits, tubes and beaver type baits, such as the Reins Punchin’ Predator, Craw Tube, C-pod rigged on a Jika-rig, Texas Rigged 1/4oz Paddle Tail Worm, and Swamp Mover in a natural or green pumpkin color. Be sure to target moving baits during cloudy or windy conditions, switching to slower moving baits as the day gets brighter and without wind. Be sure to key on areas with rock or a hard bottom, as well as docks built on black floats.
On the lower end of the lake (from Dreher Island to the Dam), focus on slower moving bottom baits, such as a jig, shakey head, or a dropshot Reins Bubbling Shaker in a Watermelon or Green Pumpkin color, especially during times with lack of wind. During conditions with wind, focus on suspending and moving baits like the IMA Flit 120 in the Sexy Pearl Shad or Boned Shad, Ima Deep Fry 95 in Chartreuse Shad or Misty Shad and Ima Pinjack 200 in the Gizzard Shad or Bluegill color on points and deep banks with rock, and the New Reins Palpuntin jigging spoon in Silver Shad on the sides and ends of points, and by the end of the month swimbaits, like the New Ima Glide Fluke 128mm Sinking in the Half Metallic Blue and Ghost Blue Gizzard and the Optimum Baits Boom Boom Rigged Swimbait in a Sexy Shad or Blue Shad Color around docks. Key areas are those holding Blueback Herring shallower and White Perch deeper. Be sure to key on the sides of flatter points with hard bottoms where there may be a drop or an ambush area. A tip for finding these kinds of points quickly, they are typically marked with a hazard marker buoy warning boaters of shallow water. This time of year on the lower end of the lake, boat positioning can be very important, with the boat positioned over water as deep as 30-40 feet, casting toward the point. A LakeMaster chip in your graph, setting the shaded depth on your Humminbird (Press Menu twice, under Chart), to 30 feet can be extremely helpful in locating ideal humps and points. Also, very important is the wind. Follow the wind from day to day, fishing points that have the most direct wind blowing on them, paying attention to the wind can be the difference between a successful day and a difficult one this time of year.
The month of February is when fish start to venture into their pre-spawn areas. This is a great month to catch fish in predictable areas, as they can be easy to pattern with good electronics. Bass will be in the backs of creeks and pockets holding in the last deep water areas around rocks and docks, and set up well in deeper 25-40 foot areas off of points toward the end of the month. Up the river and in the backs of creeks and coves, where resident fish are more prevalent, fish could still be as shallow as a couple feet, as long as there is a creek channel or deep water nearby. Be sure to focus on areas with bait, hard bottom areas, and North shore banks that get the most sunlight. On the lower end of the lake where Bass are set up deep, they will be feeding on Blueback Herring, White Perch or crayfish, and will typically be positioned on long tapering points adjacent to spawning coves. This time of year is a great time to utilize your electronics and spend time idling looking for key sweet spots in the form of rock or brush piles.
A great way to get out, enjoy the outdoors, and do a little fishing is to book a trip with one of the Lake Murray area guides. I am a certified Fisheries Biologist, Coast Guard Approved, full-time Largemouth Bass guide, have fished full-time and competitively for the past 13 years across the country on both the BASS and FLW trails, and have a lifetime of fishing experience. I offer a learning experience on multiple techniques of your choice, tournament preparation, and/or electronics education. I would love to share my knowledge with you on the water and enjoy a day of fishing.
-Michael Murphy, USCG Approved, Merchant Mariner Licensed
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