February was an absolute wild ride with ice storms, wind, and even record heat. Water temps plummeted and rose drastically in a matter of days. But the trout bite earlier this month was very strong, much like the previous month. The key for us on most trips was to work the deeper areas in 10-20 ft. Clay bottom seemed to be a common factor, and the forage was glass minnows. We mimicked the minnows on light jigheads paired with 3-4” swimbaits in neutral colors.
Most winter retrieves consist of slow methodical hops and dragging the plastics patiently. We got our fair share finessing the imitation swimmers, but the best bite came twitching the baits sharply. Our retrieves for the most part were steady swims imparted with fairly violent jerks every 2-3 seconds. Not your typical cold water retrieve, but it was very effective. Many lure makers will tell you to work their baits differently until the fish bite. The fish will tell you what they like. This was the case these last few weeks. We did run a few sight fishing trips for red fish, as we had 2 days where conditions were near perfect. On consecutive days we released over 20 redfish anywhere from 15” on up to 30”. With gin clear water, the only bait we could get the reds to commit to were Near Clear D.O.A. 3” Shrimp. The bite was odd, as the fish wouldn’t eat a moving bait. A couple of small pulls with as much as a 5 second pause was needed at times. With a warming trend projected for the beginning of March it will be interesting to see if the fish stayed schooled up!