Where does one of Louisiana’s most recognizable pro bass fishermen go to catch bass in February?
Greg Hackney of Gonzales has several destinations that deliver — weather and water conditions permitting. Much of the time he fishes close around his hometown, or hauls his Phoenix bass boat to his favorite area at Toledo Bend.
This year his choice probably will be more of the latter than the former for several reasons.
“Typically, when I start back fishing in January, I usually fish close to home. I’ll probably venture a ways in February,” Hackney said, warming up to the subject during his valued offseason from the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Why? Blame Hurricane Ida, which ravaged many of his potential bass fishing hotspots when it made it’s destructive landfall in August of last year near Port Fourchon.
“Fishing took a powder after that storm,” he said, noting at least the Atchafalaya Basin, one of his go-to places, was spared.
“Everything else around here was impacted adversely,” he said. It’s caused a lot of fishermen to re-evaluate where to go and how to fish.
The 16-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, including securing his spot for this year’s event March 4-6 at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina, is confident he can catch bass at the big lake shared by Louisiana and Texas. Specifically, Hackney plans to frequent the Hwy. 1215 area on the Louisiana side north of Pendleton Bridge.
“Well, February’s probably my favorite time to go to Toledo Bend,” he said. “I expect it to be a real good spring over there.”
Beat the crowd
Hackney calls fishing the lake in February a chance to beat the crowd of bass anglers that covers the lake in March and April, the height of the bass spawn on Toledo Bend. There’s a reason he’s fired up to fish February with the water well below pool level heading into the new year. Sure, he and so many other bass anglers like to fish the lake when it’s high (hopefully the pool level goes up this year) with water in the bushes in March and April. But Hackney prefers it low very early in the year because he believes there is more bass habitat north of Pendleton Bridge on the Louisiana side. That’s especially true around Hwy. 1215 and branching out to nearby San Miguel Creek, San Patricio Creek and, even to Lanan Creek.
He favors three to five foot depths and targets the expansive flats — like those at Hwy. 1215— with drains (or ditches) that act as highways for the bass as they move in to spawn. Find a ditch with grass, if that’s possible these days, and it’s icing on the cake. If there is grass, it’ll usually be found in the center of the ditch or at the back of the ditch, he said. Grass, when you can find it, is key to catching fish.
“I like it (lake level) when it’s even lower,” he said. “A big reason is you can see everything. You can catch them pitching stumps on sunny days.”
Use the ramps
Areas in the places he likes to fish are exposed to north winds, which are common the second month of the year. Rather than cranking up and running his boat to the other creeks, he’ll head for the nearest boat ramp.
“They all have boat ramps in the back of them,” he said. “I do that when it’s so rough you don’t want to run the lake. I’ll take out and drive to the next one.”
No matter where he’s at in February at Toledo Bend, bass usually bite one or more of his three favorite artificial lures — a ½-ounce Strike King Thunder Cricket, which is a bladed jig; a ½-ounce Strike King Red Eyed Shad, which is a lipless crankbait and a Strike King KVD 1.5 Squarebill crankbait. Color depends on the water clarity, he said, but it’s hard to beat red hues (like Delta Red, his preference) for all and chartreuse/black or sexy shad for the KVD.
Red is the primary color to start with this time of year, he said, especially when you don’t have anything else to go on.
The 48-year-old Hackney enjoyed talking about bassin’ in February but make no mistake he enjoyed his offseason, which included deer hunting in Mississippi and Illinois, where he shot a nice buck. He got in some dove hunting at Honey Brake near Jonesville, and took one of his daughters to Disney World for Christmas.
“It’s the offseason, but I started thinking about the Bassmaster Elite Series opener Feb. 10-13 at St. Johns River in Florida on Jan. 1. That’s when I start getting a little antsy, even though I’ll probably still be in the hunting mode,” he said with a chuckle.