To find spots at this time is easy on a warm day. Just drive to a pocket stop the boat and watch the water's surface. If a spot is good there will be several fish busting the surface of the water near the bank every few minutes. This tactic keeps me from wasting time in pockets with fewer bass that may have already been fished. If you find a pocket with action on the surface you can usually be guaranteed at least one limit of bass.
When fishing for spawning bass, I like to downsize and use finesse worms since many of the canals have already been pounded by bigger lures. I also rather a subtle approach in shallow water, rarely casting but softly flipping with a spinning reel.
I use a small 1/0 or 2/0 wide-gapped worm hook with a matching black, watermelon or june bug painted tungsten weight pegged with a matching black, green, or purple toothpick. Yes, I go all out with the matching.
Common lure colors I use include watermelon red flake Zoom finesse worm on a bright day in clean water. When it's cloudy or near dark, I switch to june bug, red shad or black with red flake. In muddier water, I'll use the red shad or june bug red-flake color. Taking every trick known to present your lure in the correct color pattern will help fool more big, picky females into biting.
I use 10- to 12-pound-test fluorocarbon or green Trilene Big Game line with a Palomar knot. It's the only knot I've found where the line pops before the knot, so I can use a tremendous amount of force when setting the hook with light line. You won't ever see a bass get off my line due to a poor hook set.
If the water is really muddy, I have success with a small, 3inch Speed Craw in black and blue with a 3/0 wide-gapped hook with a 1/8-ounce black tungsten weight pegged with a black toothpick. Sometimes I use the tough-to-find 5-inch Zoom lizards, as well, with the same hook/weight setup.
And I always keep a ¼-ounce gold-colored Red Eye Shad or tiny chrome or gold Rat-L-Trap on a line in case I see bass schooling up and chasing shad in the middle of the pockets or canals. One of our trips in February produced a quick two limits of bass this way.
Of course, I always have a black buzz bait tied on. Nearly half the bass caught in the past few weeks fell for this this lure. I use a small 1/8-ounce mini Strike King black buzz bait in the small dead-end pockets, as it won't produce too much action but just enough disturbance to drive the fish crazy. Bigger top-water baits tend to spoke the fish if they aren't really feeding hard. If they aren't biting the bait well, I'll put on a trailer hook. I always keep my soft-plastic pole ready for when a fish does miss the buzz bait.
The other top-water bait I like in the calm, dead-end pockets is a tiny 2-inch Rebel Pop-R in a black/chrome or jet black pattern hooks.
Many times when I'm hitting the dead-end pockets bass will be way up in the swamp cuts. I like to park the boat near the bank, and then I take to walking the swamp and catch them just feet from their beds. You have to be careful not to spook the bass, though, as they can easily see you. I'll often do this same tactic while frogging. Going after bass from the bank breaks up the boredom of standing on the front deck of the boat all trip.
When I'm catching plenty of bass, I'll let all the bigger females go and keep the tasty 1- to 2-pound male bass. The male bass will have red eyes at this time of the year, so I try to let as many females as I can back in the water.
After the fishing is over its time for the frogs.
This is my favorite time of the year to frog because you the frogs are much easier to catch and fewer people frog during the late-winter months. The vegetation is far less than summer and water levels are usually much lower with northern cold fronts keeping it low, so frogs are easily spotted.
Frogs will be located in the water more often when the air temperature is cooler than the water, so be looking for eyes. Many times they will duck right under the surface, but won't hop away like in the warmer months, so pay close attention to where you first spot that frog.
If he disappears he'll more than likely be right under the water right there.
A benefit of going in daylight is you get to see the water levels and current conditions of your frog spots while fishing. It'll also give you the advantage of getting there first. This is rarely a problem for me, as I usually drive 30 to 40 minutes to most of my frog locations. I really like to get far away from people and hit fresher areas. I use a GPS to easily get across lakes and far locations at night without any problems, making a current path on the GPS on the way in checking for debris in the water.
I like to put my frogs in a laundry bag, which makes them easy to transport. And each bag can easily hold 100 frogs. There is never a worry about frogs getting out, either.
On my first frogging trip this year, I had caught my limit of bass, and then caught and release another 15 or so. I caught one beautiful 4-pound bass that is my biggest of the Lake Maurepas area. It was the first warm stretch in February, so I knew the frogging would be good.
I proceeded to pick up 35 nice bullfrogs in the first canal I tried before my push pole broke at 8:15, so I called it a night.
Frogging solo is quite a challenge with an outboard in low water. I had to drive the boat hard up the long mud flat for every frog to get the boat close enough. Then sprint to the front the boat and grab the frog, and then push pole out every time. It's a fun workout.
Driving back to the launch was great, as it was a rising orange full moon that night without a cloud in the sky.
The next night I brought help, though, and another push pole. My buddy and I went bass fishing first again and caught our two limits of bass in the pockets within two hours, getting a bunch from the bank as the fish moved into the swamp cuts with the warmer weather.
Afterwards, it was froggin' time. I had to work the next morning so we ended before 9 p.m. with around 70 frogs. We had several frogs that stretched out nearly 17 inches.
It was quite the trip and a long, relaxing boat ride back to the launch in the dark on a warm February night after a thorough annihilation of monstrous swamp toads and an ice chest full of fish is about as good as it gets.