In major reservoirs in Northern Alabama, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Georgia, February gives fishermen a new opportunity for the best tasting freshwater gamefish I certainly have ever cooked.
What it is? Walleye. Yes, I know the walleye is in most of the freshwater mountain lakes in the Appalachian chain, but he lives so deep and because he is caught at night most of the year, he’s usually not easily on your target list. Here’s your chance. During the full moon in February, go up the main rivers that feed the lake and use night crawlers or live bait and you can catch a limit easily. We’re talking about bigguns, up to 25 inches.
I must admit that I’ve only done this on the Chestatee as it feeds Lanier but if it works there, it’ll work in whatever lake that has walleyes.
Here’s the pattern: Go late in the afternoon up the river far enough that you’ll be bouncing on the rocks, super shallow, work the outside bends in the current until dark. The walleye are up the river in the cold water of February to spawn, will bite just about anything “meaty,” put up a good fight and when you’re done, filet them out and have a great fish dinner.
He’s a ‘toothy’ guy so you might use a light wire leader. Otherwise, he’s easy. If you really are punishing, you can fish on February nights at the mouths of the rivers entering the lakes using small crankbaits on the outside bends of the submerged river channel or simply tie on dropshot rigs. Artificial deepwater jigs will work but you’ll catch more if you hook on a little meat.
Gotta tell you though, it’s a real challenge at 2 a.m. in the dark at 25 degrees. You really must be dedicated to want to do that.
So, what do you think, late afternoon for a couple of hours, or suffer during the middle of a winter night? Either way, first the live well, then the cooler, then the refrigerator, then the grill will have the best tasting freshwater fish in North America, and you can brag about it like I just did.