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February fishing for smallmouth bass at Center Hill Reservoir

Posted: February 12th, 2019 by Bill Dance

The month of February is a good time of the year to pursue smallmouth bass in Tennessee. Tennessee is known nationally for its premier smallmouth bass fishing; after all it is home to the world record smallmouth bass which weighed 11lbs, 15ozs. caught way back in 1955 at Dale Hollow Reservoir. Like Dale Hollow, Center Hill Reservoir which is located in middle Tennessee offers great opportunities for anglers targeting smallmouth bass for many reasons. One reason is that Center Hill Reservoir has an abundance of preferred smallmouth bass habitat such as bluffs, rocky banks, points, water current in the main river and small creeks, all which comprise to make it a good smallmouth bass fishery. These types of preferred smallmouth bass habitat can be found throughout this 18,220 acre reservoir.

Smallmouth bass at Center Hill Reservoir during February are focusing on the upcoming spawning season. One of the main goals of the smallmouth bass during this time will be feeding to prepare for spawning and to rebuild fat reserves after the endurance of the winter season. Smallmouth will also be focusing on spawning site selection and preparation. The majority of the spawning by smallmouth bass in Center Hill Reservoir will occur during March-early May when water temperatures are between 59 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Smallmouth bass during pre-spawn times (i.e. February) will often be oriented towards transitional areas near the mouth of creeks and embayments.

Transitional areas on Center Hill would be described as areas of the bank and bottom where major habitat types change therefore making an obvious transition. Fish often orient themselves to these described areas. Some examples of these transitional areas could be a bluff bank changing to a large broken rock bank becoming shallower or a soft bottom (non-rocky) yielding to a hard substrate bottom consisting of various types of rock. Shallow points on the lower section of the reservoir are also good areas to focus on this time of the year. Combine this preferred habitat with the presence of preferred smallmouth bass forage like threadfin shad, gizzard shad, alewifes, or crayfish and you will have good combination for success.

Fishing lures, such as crankbaits, that resemble this forage preference will be a good choice. The right lure combined with the right location should be a winning combination for landing a smallmouth bass.  So when smallmouth bass fishing is your desire early in the year don’t pass up Center Hill in February as a top destination to satisfy your angling pursuits towards one of Tennessee’s greatest gamefish.

Bill Dance


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