By now most bass fishermen have had enough sitting at home staying warm and want to venture out to defeat cabin fever. Although there is hope for warming by the end of the month and bass do respond to the longer days, they are not easy to catch most days. Fortunately, lakes like Harding will have some feeding fish this time of year.
For a February trip, a lake like Harding on the Chattahoochee River just downstream from West Point is a good choice. It has a variety of types of structure and cover to fish and is full of spotted bass. Spots seem to feed better in cold water and cold fronts affect them but don’t usually shut them down like it will largemouth.
Chris Blair has been a bass fisherman all his life and his father instilled a love of competition in fishing in him. He often went with his father to club tournaments and fished from the bank until he could join the Clayton County Bass Club when he turned 16. He does well in the club and made the Georgia BASS Federation Nation state team in 2008.
“Harding is one of my favorite lakes,” Chris said. “It has some big spots in it and you can catch them in a variety of ways,” he continued. There are also some good largemouth in the lake. Although February is not the best month to be on Harding, you can catch fish there as well or better than any where else this time of year.
The bass at Harding are holding on their winter patterns most of the month of February. They are near deep water and hiding in heavy cover. A warm day or two will make them move a little more shallow and feed better, but they won’t venture far from the deep water sanctuary.
Wood and rock cover is what you want to look for, and it needs to drop into at least 15 feet of water to hold bass this time of year. If even deeper water is nearby it is even better.
Chris will fish a three eights ounce Edge Hardhead mop jig and trailer in orange and brown in clear water and black and blue in stained water. He likes a one half ounce Edge spinnerbait in chartreuse and white with a gold Colorado and a silver willowleaf blade. A Hellrazor blade jig in white with a Shadee Shad trailer is good for fish that don’t want quite as much flash as the spinnerbait shows.
A Luck Craft or Bandit crankbait in Tennessee Shad that will get down deep is a good choice for more active fish and Chris will go to a one eight ounce lead head with a six inch pumpkinseed Trick worm trailer for very inactive fish. One of these baits will attract bites most days.
The following ten spots show the kinds of cover and structure Chris catches Harding bass from this time of year.
1. N 32 42 755 – W 85 07.361 – Run down the river on the right side and go past the mouth of Osanippa Creek. On your right will be a small point with a green pine in the water beside a dead pine in the water. They are in front of gray roof house and there is a dock just downstream of them as you start into the pocket there.
These blowdowns are on a steep drop and there is 15 feet of water just off them at full pool. They offer the typical kind of place Chris looks for this time of year, heavy cover dropping into deep water.
Start fishing on the upstream side of the green tree and work a jig and pig through the branches of it and then the dead one. Fish it carefully and slowly, winter bass are not aggressive. Give them time to hit.
As you work away from the trees throw a crankbait and jig head worm around the docks just inside the pocket. As the water warms at the end of the month bass will move into this pocket and hold on cover around the docks.
2. N 32 41.843 – W 85 07.104 – Down the river past the Chattahoochee Valley Rec Park just downstream of the second small pocket there is a steep bluff bank starting at a small point with a gray house with a long walkway going down to the dock. There is raw clay on the outside of the point and some big rocks and wood cover is along this bank.
Start at the point and work a crankbait and spinnerbait through the cover. Slowroll the spinnerbait through the limbs of trees and bump the crankbait off the ends of them. A Hellraiser is good to work off the ends of the wood, too.
Follow up with your jig and pig or jig head worm. Bump them slowly from limb to limb. If the water is warming, fish from the shallow end all the way out but if it is cold, especially early in the month, concentrate on the deeper parts of the cover.
3. N 32 41.053 – W 85 11.066 – Run to the third bridge going up Halawakee Creek. The Highway 279 Bridge is upstream of the old railroad bridge. Bridges like this one on creeks make a squeeze point where bass often stack up as they start to move toward the backs of the creeks as the water warms and the days get longer.
Fish the riprap and pilings from one side to the other, working a crankbait and spinnerbait bumping the rocks and along the pilings. Also fish a jig and pig or jig head worm on the rocks and beside the pilings. Even early in the month the rocks and pilings will warm from the sun and draw baitfish and bass to them.
You will find the water is usually a little clearer in this creek than out on the main river. This can be important in cold water. Clear cold water is better than muddy cold water most days.
4. N 32 41.092 – W 85 08.936 – Going down the creek there is a big creek on your right just before you get to the Highway 379 Bridge. A power line crosses the mouth of the creek, jumping from one long narrow point on the upstream side to the long narrow point on the downstream side.
Start on the upstream point at the power line and fish the bank, casting to the clay bottom that changes to riprap. Throw crankbaits, Hellrazor and spinnerbait. When you get to the blowdown slow down and fish it carefully with a jig and pig and jig head worm.
You will be in 15 feet of water a cast off the bank near the point but the old creek channel swings in near the blowdown and the tip of it is in water about 25 feet deep at full pool. It is in a perfect location to hold bass all month. The water is deep enough for early in the month and bass moving into the creek as the days get longer will hold in the tree before moving further back.
5. N 32 41.356 – W 85 08.098 – Go under the bridge and head downstream. Straight ahead the bank runs out from your right and the river makes a turn to the left. On the right bank right where the turn starts is a point with some post along a wooden seawall on it. The posts have lights on them.
Stop well off the point in 45 feet of water and east toward it. Off the tip and slightly downstream of it is a huge boulder sitting in about 15 feet of water and there is rubble around it. Bass, especially spots, like to hold around this rock.
You can bump the top of the rock with a crankbait that runs six or seven feet deep then slow roll a spinnerbait on it. Work a jig and pig and jig head worm all around the rock, throwing up to the seawall and fishing back past the rock. Bass will hold all around the rock and feed on shad, so seeing balls of shad here and on other spots like this really helps.
6. N 32 42.034 – W 85 06.591 – Run out of Hawalakee Creek and go across the mouth of the river. You can run across above the island with the house on it near the creek and downstream of the island with the cross on it near the other bank. Locals call this “Church Island.”
The right bank going up across from the island with the cross is steep and drops off into deep water. There is a white house on the downstream side of this point and it flattens out and the bluff bank along the point has big boulders in it.
Start fishing just upstream of the dock where the big rocks start and work upstream, all the way past the next dock. Chris will get in close to the bank and parallel it with a big crankbait and also slow roll a spinnerbait along the bottom.
This is also a good place to fish a jig and pig and jig head worm when the water is cold. Chris says he will throw right on the bank then “creepy crawl” either jig down the rocks, barely moving it so it stays right on the bottom and falls only s few inches at a time. The bottom drops fast here so you have to move it very slowly.
7. N 32 42.406 – 85 06.891 – Go up the river past the next big round point and stop at the mouth of the narrow cove on your right. The upstream point of this cove is rock and drops off on the end into the channel. There is a ledge across the mouth of the cove and it is shallow going toward the downstream point but it drops off into the river on the outside of it, too.
Fish the upstream point early in the month and work into the cut as the days get longer and the water starts to warm. Bass hold on the point and feed on shad then work into the cut, holding and feeding around wood cover in it. There are usually lots of shad around the mouth of this cove so check for them.
Chris says there is lots of good brush as you go back into this cove and it is a good place to fish later in the month. Fish your jigs around the point and you can fish a jig head or jig and pig vertically if you see fish under your boat. As you go into the cove fish all your baits around the brush and other wood cover.
8. N 32 42.946 – W 85 07.012 – The downstream point of the cove with Idlehour Ramp in it holds bass. This shallow point is a good place to start if you put in here or end your day before you take out, or both.
Stay well off the point and make long casts across it with all your baits. Work your spinnerbait and blade jig along the bottom and bump it with a crankbait. Then drag a jig and pig or jig head worm along the bottom.
A lot of tournaments are held out of this ramp and bass released here often hold on this point. There are usually shad on it so it is worth fishing carefully and at different angles. Work all the way around it, keeping your boat out as far as the no wake buoy on that side, while fan casting the point.
9. N 32 44.041 – W 85 06.662 – Up the river just before it bends back to the left at Blanton Creek is a cove. It is the last one on the right before Blanton Creek going upstream and is very shallow. But the downstream point is rocky and drops off into the channel.
Stop out from the point and work in. You will see a big pine blowdown but it is broken off at the water level. There is brush out in front of it to fish, though. Another smaller blowdown is closer inside the mouth of the cove.
You will also see a log lying on the bottom out from the bank, showing how shallow this pocket is. You don’t want to fish into the pocket. Instead, work your jigs in the blowdowns and brush and also down the steep rocky bank going downstream of this spot. Chris says this is a very good spot hole.
10. N 32 44.605 – W 85.07.901 – Run up past the bluff bank on your left to where the river turns to the right. At the end of the bluff the bank levels out and a creek enters the river. On the upstream point of the creek is a big “For Sale” sign.
Out in front of this sign about 40 to 50 yards is a rock pile right on the lip of the old river channel. It is very rough and comes up out of 10 plus feet of water to top out at about five feet deep at full pool. Bass hold and feed on these rocks, especially when current is moving down the river.
Chris positions his boat downstream of the rocks and throws a crankbait up to work back with the current. He wants to get it down to bump the rocks but be prepared; you will get hung up here. Fan cast all over the top of the rocks.
These ten spots hold bass right now and through the end of the month. Check them out and you can find many more similar places to catch February bass at Harding.