BAYOUOUTDOORS | Transition Time
article by DAN CHASON
The month of February is a sad time of anticipation for the average outdoorsman or woman. Deer season is over and unless you chase squirrels or rabbits, the options are pretty limited for activity in the woods. Deer stands are being locked up, wheelers put away and the memories of 2023 are cherished as the camp is secured and weekends become a time to fulfill. I’d like to cover a couple of activities that most of us overlook but can fill your days with fun in the outdoors in this month of transition.
First of all if you fish, February is a time to catch some really fat fish. Bass and crappie are fat and starting to spawn. Water temps are low and fluctuating and most of our water is muddy from all the rain and water shed we have endured for the last couple of months. If you are looking for bass there is no better choices offered that what we have right here at home in Northeast Louisiana. To escape pressured fish, let me recommend a couple of lakes who are consistently good for big bass.
Poverty Point Lake in Delhi is a great choice if you don’t mind competing with perch jerkers pounding the banks for crappie. This lake has consistently produced for me over the years with many fish over the 7 pound mark. I recommend fishing during the week and avoiding it on weekends. The place to go is on the northwest side of the lake and look for grass. The bass will spawn near the rocks as most baitfish use these rocks for heat and cover. I like a creature bait such as brush hog in watermelon red for best results. When a cold front pushes through, throw a suspending rogue or a chatter bait (white) for best results.
Another overlooked lake for the spawn is Bayou DeSiard. This lake probably gets less spawning pressure than most and I have had best results here with a gold Long Bomber A. The creature baits work well but the color here is plain pumpkin seed or motor oil.
Bayou Bartholomew is my secret spot when I’m chasing spawning bass. I like the far upper end of the lake and target grass patches or single cypress trees. You can really catch a pig here and you need to have patience and work the cover slowly, then slow down.
My favorite spawn fishing lake of all time is the Ouachita River. Floating logs are the target and a gold Rapala will make them bite. Look for no current in the back water and find logs with a lot of wood in the water. These fish really love to get on these logs and will stay on them well past any fish on shallow cover.
So what if you aren’t done in the woods? What about shed hunting? A whitetail deer sheds their horns every year and this is a great way to learn your woods and where a big buck has been hiding. Thickets and narrow deer trails will bring you the most luck as the horns become dislodged as they travel their corridors. A big win is to find both sides but I guarantee you when you find one, you are hooked. These antlers make great accessories for making knives and other works of art and makes for a great day of walking in the woods hunting these shed horns. Not a lot of people do this in our area so the pickings should be abundant. The best times to look begin around the 2nd week of February and into early March.
One of my passions is hog hunting. I like to take the month of February and concentrate on hogs. It is a great time to weed out these pests and in February they are hungry and a lot less wary with all the folks out of the woods. The secret to hog hunting with a rifle is the right food. Hogs like their corn soured and sweet. The way to accomplish this is by taking your corn and soaking it for about 3 days in water. I add fish grease which they love and then pour a hog hunting supplemental sweet molasses to the mix. It does not take long for them to find it if you start close to a known hog sign. Let me caution that when you do take a hog be very careful with skinning and processing. Hogs carry diseases that while cannot be transferred when cooked properly, but can be transferred to bare skin.
In Louisiana it is now legal to hunt hogs at night. You must notify the local sheriff if hunting at night but the results can be outstanding. Always hunt hogs with the wind in your face. Hogs have a terrific sense of smell. They don’t see good but they can hear you and smell you at a level that would embarrass a deer. Weapons can vary but my choice is my trusty .223 AR 15 or my single shot .308. Shot placement is critical as you need to target the head area, specifically right behind the eye. After the shot, approach with extreme caution. Hogs have nine lives like a cat and I’ve seen them get up when they shouldn’t.
Whether you fish or hunt, February can be a great month to gather new information about your choice of prey. When fishing, always wear a PFD and remember that cold temperatures mean less time of survival in the water. Always wear a kill switch when the big motor is running and by all means if you are in the woods, utilize seat belts and helmets to make sure you come home in one piece. Hunting and fishing in the early spring can be quite rewarding. Don’t take shortcuts and enjoy your time in the field.