February may not boast the warm temperatures of summer or the vibrant colors of fall, but it is an optimal time to visit the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Murphy, North Carolina. It is also an exciting time of year for huge striped bass and smallmouth fishing. Hiwassee Lake is Western North Carolina’s hidden gem for catching some awesome stripers and smallmouth bass, and February has been known to produce some big fish. As Murphy, NC’s only professional full-time guide service, we are here to help put you on these fish.
Currently, water temperatures are in the mid to high 40’s. Lake Hiwassee’s water levels are slowly rising due to the recent much needed rains, and it is now 41 feet below full pool. Water clarity is moderately clear and stained in the creeks and rivers.
Striper fishing has been great recently. We’ve been catching some nice fish in the 10 to 12-pound range. One thing to be aware of this time of year is the quick change in fishing patterns that can occur. These fast-moving stripers are always on the move, and because of this, you’ll have to be ready to use some different techniques. Some days, these hard fighting fish are shallow and pounding bait up on the banks and shallow flats in the backs of creeks. Pulling planer boards early in the morning has been working great on these days. Make sure you stagger your baits behind your boards. I like to run my bluebacks and shad 15 to 25 feet behind my boards closest to the banks and further back on my inside boards. While pulling planer boards, it’s always a great idea to set out a couple of free lines 100 to 120 feet behind the boat. It’s not uncommon for me to have 12 rods out at a time this time of year. (Folks have even commented that I look like a shrimp boat.) While pulling baits, keep an eye on your electronics, which leads me to those “other days.” The other days have consisted of the majority of our fish being caught on a down line bite. These stripers will go from shallow to deep water feeding in a flash. Most of our down line fish have been caught in the 30 to 40-foot range off points and ledges along the river channels in the mouth of creeks. This is also a great way to pick up a stray walleye or two.
Smallmouth and spotted bass have been off the hook out here lately. This beautiful mountain lake never ceases to fail me (knock on wood). We’ve been catching some large quantities of smallmouth and spots. These fish have been schooled up on shallow flats and off rocky points around the lake. Down lining live bluebacks has been the best technique for loading the boat with these great Hiwassee smallmouth.
Although the weather maybe cold, February is a fantastic month for catching some big fish on this lake. So dig out your long johns and winter coats and give the area’s best-rated fishing charter team Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service a call. Let us put you on some of Lake Hiwassee’s best trophy fish during the fishing trip of a lifetime. And, for all your bait and tackle needs, go check out Hughes General Store in Blairsville, GA. They carry everything you need for a successful day of fishing. Now bundle up, hit the water, and go “get your fish on”! Good luck!