Highlands County Fishing Report: Feb. 2016

Nick Desanta-7.49 lbs
Nick Desanta-7.49 lbs

The Lake Placid Team Trail tournament for December was held on Lake June under extremely windy conditions. My partner, Nick DeSanta had fished the lake a week earlier and done well, so we returned to an area on the west shoreline that had produced for him.

Warm temperatures and a strong southeastern wind created rough water conditions right from the start in the area we chose to fish, but bass were holding in the 6’ to 12’ water. I scored first with a bass striking my Texas- rigged black trick worm and Nick followed with four bass in a row on the same plastic worm, but rigged on a small screw-loc jig.

For the next 4 hours we let the wind blow us towards shore, starting in 12- 14’ of water and ending in 4’. The drifts were fast and the fish were holding anywhere we could find grass. Ripping the worm through the grass seemed to work best, with the bass often striking the bait as it pulled free of the vegetation.

Nick’s screw-loc jig continued to out-perform my Texas rig and by 10am, I finally had to borrow one. By then, Nick had probably caught a dozen bass on the rig, compared to my 3 or 4. Once I switched baits, we both caught bass at a pretty even rate.

By 11am, the wind was blowing extremely hard, creating white-caps and making our drifts shorter and shorter so we decided to try a calmer area. Turning the boat into the wind, we took a beating and finally made it back to the east shoreline where the water was relatively calm. An hour later, I caught a small bass and we both decided, even with the wind and waves, we were probably better off where we started.

It proved to be a money-making decision. Ten minutes after returning to the area we had been catching fish earlier, Nick hung into a nice bass which ultimately earned us, along with our other four keepers, second place in the tournament. We continued to catch fish in the same area, but most were in the 1 1⁄2 to 2 pound range.

The team of Lee/ Cody won the event with 5 bass weighing a total of 16.63 pounds. They received $570.00 for their first place finish.

Nick and I came in second with 5 bass weighing in at 15.62 pounds. Second place paid $340.00 plus big bass, Nick’s 7.49 lunker was worth another $160.00.

Third place went to the team of Bennett/Moore with 5 fish weighing 15.04 pounds and earning them $225.00.

Just out of the money in 4th place was the team of Arnold/Perrson with 5 bass weighing 14.23 pounds.

All told there were 16 5-bass limits weighed in, a total of 80 fish. All the bass were released alive. Eighteen teams participated.

I had hoped to include the results from the Lake Placid Team Trail tournament on Lake Istokpoga in January, but the event was canceled due to un-safe weather conditions.
Temperatures cooled off quickly in the New Year. Many of the lakes continued high water temperatures, high 70’s to low 80’s through December, but in a span of 10 days going into January, lake water temperatures dropped into the high 60’s.

The cooler weather was needed for the spawning period and with temperatures in the mid-sixties, both bass and crappie should be moving into the shallows in preparation to spawn.
I’ve been out a half-dozen times in January and the crappie fishing has been very good on all the lakes. Crappies have moved into the lily pads and reeds to spawn and dropping a small jig tipped with a minnow is all you need to be successful.

Male bass can be found shallow, preparing beds for the larger females that will be following later this month and into February.

The next three months, February, March and April should be the best three months of the year for bass fishing.