A month for sweethearts and big bass


G. Sam Piatt - PDT Columnist



Thursday brought us winter weather, today we’re back to spring-like temperatures. That’s February.

We can’t be too harsh on the month that gives us the opportunity to pick out a lovely card and perhaps a box of chocolates for our valentine.

I know that some who read this feeble attempt of writing will have lost their valentine, either recently or some years back. My prayers go out to them. I know it must be very difficult to part with one we shared life’s ups and downs with for so many memorable years.

My wife, Bonnie, and I are fortunate in this respect. We hope to celebrate our 63rd Valentine’s Day this coming Tuesday. I’m thankful.

I’m thinking of, instead of chocolates, getting her a new trolling motor.

ANGLERS TINGLE

February is also the month that makes anglers feel a tingling of hope and anticipation down in their soul.

The third week of February usually brings to our ears the call of spring peepers back in the marsh. The last week of the month, when water temperatures push above 50 degrees, offers a chance to catch a real trophy bass.

Female bass begin thinking of the spawn, and to make up for the many days they will go without eating as they drop their eggs and help with guarding the nest, they’re ready to feed.

Warm rains of February, bringing dingy, even muddy water, also brings them in tight against the shoreline in search of food. This is the time when fishermen brave miserable weather to go jigging.

I was at first a bit skeptical of this technique, until my friend, Bobby Joe Hullett, who I worked many years with at the newspaper, showed me it works.

Jigging involves use of a 12-foot cane or fiberglass rod and a length of stout line about the same length as the pole. At the end of the line is a No. 2 hook baited with a gob of live nightcrawlers.

This bait is jigged up and down in the shallows amid underwater obstructions along the shoreline. Wham. Lift the pole and swing in a 5-pound sow.

Jigging and pitching the shoreline can get the same results with a one-half ounce black and blue jig used on a flipping stick.

Jig poles came into use before today’s modern rods and reels, and even before bassboats. Just a 12-foot johnboat moved silently along with a sculling paddle was all that was necessary.

It’s best to release the catch at this time so that the spawn that replenishes the species can continue.

Bobby Joe’s exhibition came on Grayson Lake. I once witnessed the same February technique bring in a few 8-pound largemouth along the weedy shoreline of Florida’s St. John’s River.

MUSKIE, TOO

The same jigging and pitching efforts will also work on Cave Run muskies, which pull into the shallows for spawning earlier than bass.

A large Rat-L-Trap also works for shoreline muskellunge during this time of year.

If you hook a muskie, hold on with both hands. And shout, “Whoop-e-e-e!”

THE MEMORY LOSS

Although I still remember that bitter defeat in my last high school basketball game so many years ago, the biggest loss I deal with now involves memory – of trying to remember day to day where I’m going and what I intended to do when I get there, of trying to remember names.

The other day a friend came by the house and I was telling him about a wonderful restaurant my wife and I had eaten at the night before.

“What’s the name of it?” he asked.

I thought and thought but could not come up with the name. Finally I asked him, “What’s the name of that woman in the song about, uh, my…somebody…lies over the ocean…lies over the sea…oh bring back my, uh, somebody to me?”

“Bonnie?” he said.

‘Yes, that’s it,” I said, then I yelled into the kitchen to my wife and said, “Bonnie, what’s the name of that restaurant we ate at last night?”

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G. Sam Piatt

PDT Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.