John's Journal...

Where and How to Catch Bass in January and February

James Niggemeyer’s Tips for the South

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Besides fishing bass tournaments, James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, guides on Lake Fork and has tied for the biggest bass caught in the Bassmasters Elite Series’ Capitol Clash tournament on the Potomac River at Washington D.C. Out of 107 of the best pros in the nation, Niggemeyer finished in 16th place, winning $10,000 and an additional $1,000 for catching the Click to enlargebiggest bass. Today he’ll tell us how he searches the grass for big bass in January and February.
Bass can be caught in shallow water at this time of year in the South. At Lake Fork, my home lake, bass can be caught in water that’s 10-foot deep or less. Grass beds will be your best bet at Lake Fork, and my favorite type of grass is hydrilla. I’ll look for grass in major creeks on primary and secondary points and fish down some of the main banks of the creek, like the mouth of Birch Creek and the banks that lead into Birch Creek. You’ll begin to see baitfish moving in these areas.

My favorite lure is a lipless crankbait in January and February like the Strike King Diamond Shad or the Strike King Red Eye Shad. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll still fish a lipless crankbait. I like blue-and-black, blue-and-chrome or gold-and-black with a black back on my lures. I want to cover a lot of water and look for vegetation that seems to be thicker and healthier than the other vegetation at the mouth of the creek, or on the banks that lead into the creek. But patchy vegetation is also more productive than heavy vegetation at this time of year. Irregular grass seems to hold more bass than a long line of grass does. Click to enlarge

I start fishing the Diamond Shad shallow and work my way out to deep water. The good news about fishing the lipless crankbait over and through grass is that in moClick to enlargest of the South, this technique will produce bass from October to March. If you cover enough water and vary the retrieve and the depth you fish, this tactic will always produce bass. You’ll be catching early pre-spawn bass.

I fish the lipless crankbait at this time of year on 15-pound-test line with a medium-heavy All Star graphite rod. I like the graphite rod because I can feel the grass with it. I can feel my line touching the grass and the power in the graphite rod enables me to rip that Diamond Shad out of the grass when it touches the grass. I want the bait to come clean out of the grass, because most of the time, the strike will come after the lipless crankbait breaks free of the grass. This method of bass fishing has won tournaments at Lake Guntersville in Alabama and produced a Bassmaster Classic win for Boyd Duckett on Lay Lake in Alabama in 2006. Regardless of where you fish in the South, from October to the first of March, you can bet on the lipless crankbait.

Check back each day this week for more about "Where and How to Catch Bass in January and February"

Day 1: Denny Brauer’s Thoughts on the Midwest
Day 2: Davy Hite’s Hints for the East Coast
Day 3: Michael Iaconelli’s Thoughts on the North
Day 4: Skeet Reese’s Tactics for West Coast Bass
Day 5: James Niggemeyer’s Tips for the South


Entry 439, Day 5