At this time of year, I'll be fishing three types of lures — a jig, a single-bladed spinnerbait and a shallow-running crankbait. If the bass are holding on the bottom, I'll be fishing a jig.
This area often receives some rain in February, causing the lake to become dirty. Then the really big bass become active. You'll have a really good chance of catching two or three 7- or 8-pound bass in one day.
When you arrive at Chicot, check the water temperature first because it's the key to where bass will be concentrated, and what baits you should fish.
If the water temperature's in the mid-50s to the mid-60s, fish higher in the water column, and use either the spinnerbait or the crankbait.
If the water temperature's in the upper 40s to the low 50s, fish slowly on the bottom with the jig.
At this time of year, I'll fish a 3/8- or 1/4-ounce Strike King jig in black/blue, solid blue or black/brown/amber slowly around the cypress trees closest to the drop-offs, pitching it to the trees and then fishing it back to the boat. Depending on water color, I'll be using either a chunk trailer in electric blue, black neon or black with blue flecks. I'll primarily work that jig through the roots of the tree, and catch bass from cover I can't see.
Cypress trees generally have a doughnut-shaped root system underwater all the way around them. But since these cypress trees are sitting on the edges of the drop-offs, their root systems usually will be on the shallow-water sides of the trees instead of on the bottom. The bass will be suspended up above the roots or holding out in front of the trees on limbs, branches, logs, stumps or debris. The shallow-water side of the drop will be 4- to 6-feet deep, and the deep-water side will be 10-feet deep.
Chicot Lake also homes green Tupelo gum trees that grow out in the water, but the cypress trees usually hold more bass for some reason.
With the jig, I prefer 50-pound-test braided line. After I fish the jig on the bottom, I'll probably slow-roll a spinnerbait along those same drops. Or I may fish the jig higher in the water around those cypress trees.
If the water's warm, I'll wear the flats out with the spinnerbait, keying on cover I can see. I prefer to fish a 3/8- or a 1/2-ounce single-spin spinnerbait with No. 4 to 7 Colorado blades, depending on the color of the water at this time of year because I want a spinnerbait with a lot of thump. The more stained the water, the bigger the blade I fish. Then the bass can feel the bait more than see it.
If the sun's shining, I'll be using a nickel-colored blade or a gold blade if the weather's cloudy. My skirt color will either be white, orange/chartreuse or solid chartreuse, depending on water color.
If I can't turn the fish on to the spinnerbait, I'll throw a Strike King 4S crankbait in brown/crawfish, lime/chartreuse or blue/chartreuse that will run 2- to 3-feet deep on 20-pound-test line and has a wide wobble in stained water. In stained water, I'll use a slow to a medium retrieve, and try to deflect the bait off cover.
Even though the Strike King 4S is a big crankbait with a square bill, it will swim shallow. I'll be making short, accurate casts with this lure, target fishing and keying in on structure.
If the water's clear, I'll be fishing the Stealth Shad crankbait, a flat-sided crankbait with a real-tight wobbling action in Tennessee shad, chrome/black back or some other shad color or white, pearl or bone colors.
In clear water, even if the water temperature's in the high 30s, which is rare, I can catch bass at Chicot with the Stealth Shad. With the Stealth Shad, I still can get bites when the cold fronts hit Chicot.
When fishing Chicot in February, you may get only two or three bites all day, but those bites may be from 7- or 8-pound bass. Or you can have a big day and catch 10 to 12 bass with two or three of those 7- to 8-pounders.
For more information about Chicot State Park, visit www.stateparks.com/chicot.html or call 337-363-2403 or 888-677-2442.