Fishin’ with Capt. Gus

Capt. Gus Gustafson is an outdoor columnist and

a full-time professional fishing guide.

Visit or call 704-617-6812 for more information or to book a trip.



February’s Best Fishing Holes

During late January and early February water temperature is one of the forces that drive bait and predator fish from one place to another. Warmer is usually better, but sometimes extreme cold can change the dynamics of fishing. This year’s chilling temperatures have caused bass, stripers, hybrids, perch and catfish to concentrate in very deep water. Some of the best catches are coming from the bottom at depths to ninety feet. While that might seem deep to freshwater bass fishermen, snapper and grouper fishermen consider ninety feet shallow.


Why so deep? During the winter, the warmest water temperatures are near the bottom. The deeper the water, the warmer it is, if by only a few degrees. Since fish are cold blooded, a few degrees make a big difference in their comfort level. Herring, deep swimming forage fish, also spend the winter in the deeper parts of the lake. With these two scenarios, you have the perfect winter fishing hole.


Finding fish in deep water can be like looking for a needle in a hay stack, particularly for those accustomed to casting in shallow water shorelines.  Hopefully, the following tips will help you locate and catch deep water fish in February.

•The deepest water is generally in submerged river channels, creek runs, quarries, farm ponds and drainage ditches.


•Channels and other contour changes are clearly identified on (paper) topographic maps and on a variety of electronic GPS devices.


•Use a fish finder to determine water depth and help locate schools of fish.


•Be certain that the surface water temperature, depth and speed are displayed on the screen.


•Low flying and diving sea birds will pinpoint the areas where fish are feeding at times.

•Look for loons. Diving loons feed on forage fish below the surface.


•Look for concentrations of boats that are fishing in open water.


Tip from Capt. Gus!

Hand and foot warmer packages are inexpensive and help to keep extremities warm. Some anglers use a catalytic propane heater to warm the face and hands. A model commonly used in golf carts can be safely mounted in a cup holder on the helm of the boat.

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