Its no secret that most outdoorsmen arent big fans of February. For those who have spent the last five months chasing deer and ducks, February is a time to take a break from the woods and work on that honey-do list youve been ignoring. February is a time for anglers to hit boat shows and dream about a brand new rig because its too cold to go blasting around a lake looking for bass. However, if you dont mind getting a little cold and can sneak out of the house for a few hours without the wife noticing, February can be a great month to catch a lot of fish. While they may not be huge or glamorous, white bass start running up rivers in February and can be the hottest action of the year in one of the coldest months.
Fishing for white bass (sand bass) that are running up a river to spawn is pretty much a straight forward proposition. This time of year they are moving in schools and gorging themselves on baitfish so youre not really having to outsmart them too much with realistic baits. Sand bass will hit just about anything that even resembles a shad. So in order to catch a lot of fish, you should worry less about putting life-like baits in front of them and direct your efforts towards putting a lot of baits in front of them to increase your odds of hook-ups.
illustration by Paul Bradshaw
Throwing multiple baits usually means using multiple rods but since it takes a lot of talent to cast and reel two rods at the same time, well look at how to put two baits on the same rod.
The easiest way to rig up multiple baits is to use a three way swivel. Tie your main line to one of the eyes on the swivel. To one of the remaining eyes tie on a leader about 18 inches long. To the final eye tie on a shorter leader about nine inches long. For your leaders, use a monofilament that is slightly weaker than your main line. For example, if using a 10 pound main line you should use six pound leader material. The reason for this is one of your baits gets snagged you can pull until it breaks and you will only lose one bait and not your entire rig.
What you tie on the ends of the leaders is up to you but one of the most popular white bass baits of all time is the RoadRunner. While most anglers, me included, have used these for years, there are a lot of small spinners on the market that will work just as well. Ive recently been using the Mini Wedge Runner spinner bait from Stanley to catch everything that swims and plan to see how many white bass it takes to wear one out this year. If you are going to use a small spinner bait, tie it onto the longer leader so the spinner doesnt grab the leader while reeling. On the shorter leader tie on a small 1/32 or 1/64th ounce jig head dressed with a white curly tail grub or Panfish Assasin. Dont be surprised when reeling in if you have a white bass hanging on each bait.
If the sand bass arent hitting the spinner, you can replace it with a small crankbait, hard plastic jerkbait or even another jig with a curly tailed grub. The point is to get creative and try a lot of different baits to see what is working best that day.
Dont have any three way swivels? No problem. You can still tie on multiple baits. About 18 inches from the end of your main line tie on a 1/64th ounce jig head using a Palomar knot, leaving a long tag end coming out of the knot. Tie on a slightly larger 1/32nd or 1/16th ounce jig head to this tag end. The heavier jig being at the end of the line will help your casting accuracy. On the 1/64th ounce head, put a Panfish Assassin, and on the larger jig at the end of the line slide on a curly tailed grub.
When white bass start running up rivers, the action can be fast and furious. By adding multiple baits to your line, you increase the odds of catching one of these scrappy little fish on every cast.