For more than 20 years I have been covering bass tournaments and attending writers' junkets at some of the best fisheries in North America.
I have visited many states that have outstanding fishing for certain species, but throughout my travels I have discovered there is no place like home when it comes to a smorgasbord of fishing opportunities.
Missouri abounds with massive manmade reservoirs, big rivers, small streams and lakes — all offering great fishing for a variety of species. You can wade a stream for smallmouths and goggle-eyes, or pursue bass and crappie from a boat on our impoundments. The state's climate is ideal for year-round fishing, whether it's for rainbow and brown trout in the dead of winter or sunfish and catfish in the heat of summer.
Here's a look at some of the best places in the Show Me State to fish in 2014. Let's take a look at the options available for February bass fishing in Missouri.
Here's a sample of some great destinations to help you plan your next fishing trip and be sure to check out the solunar fishing calendar on In-Fisherman!
Bass, Table Rock Lake
This is one of my favorite times to fish this southwest Missouri reservoir; fishing pressure is light and lunker largemouths are moving out of the depths and starting to feed in preparation for the spawn.
The clearwater stretch from the dam to Kimberling City produces most of the wallhanger fish during February. Slowly twitching a suspending stickbait through timber along main-lake bluff ends and channel swings works best in early February. Later in the month try the same lures along secondary points and transition areas where the bank changes from chunk rock to pea gravel. An Alabama rig adorned with swimbaits has been a hot item in recent years. Remember that Missouri allows only three lures with hooks on that type of setup.
A couple of deep patterns work well in February for spotted bass. Cast or vertical jig a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce slab spoon into standing timber 25 to 35 feet deep for football-shaped spots. Vertical jigging a plastic grub in the 40- to 65-foot depth range on main-lake flats and ditches also tricks spotted bass.
TRITON 21 TrX
Triton's 21 TrX measures 21 feet and features a 95-inch beam. The bow has a 20 percent larger fishing area than last year's model. A bow panel is ready for flush-mount electronics up to 12 inches, and has an organizer for pliers and baits. Stows 24 rods in the bow, 10 more in the center locker and another 14 in the port side. tri-tonboats.com.
The YUMphibian creature bait has two small swimming arms at the top, a pair of longer curl tails at the end, and two big 'flappers ' at the mid-point. Pitch it, flip it, or work it deep. Customize by pinching off appendag-es to create less water disturbance for finicky or pressured fish. 4 1/2, 5 1/4 and 6 inches in 10 color options.
SUZUKI DF15A/20A EFI
Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
SHAKESPEARE MICRO SERIES
Shakespeare's new Micro Series Combos provide lightweight actions and are suited perfectly for panfish. They come in spinning and spin-casting models with high-quality components and each is spooled with Stren monofilament.
STRATOS 186 VLO
MSRP: Pricing starts at $22,195.
The 186 VLO measures in at 18 feet 9 inches with an 89-inch beam. The boat is built on a fiberglass, foam-filled hull and weighs in at 1,450 pounds and can hold a payload of 1,320 pounds. Maximum room is devoted to rod and tackle storage and fishing deck. VLO comes with a cus-tom-built, single axle trailer with submersible lights, a swing jack and a swing-away tongue.
RANGER'S ALUMINUM BOATS
Ranger Boat is introducing a line of aluminum boats called The Tourna-ment Series. There are three models:
€¢ RT 178 sports a 17-foot, 8-inch bass configuration.
€¢ RT 178C has a similar platform (17 feet, 8 inches) but designed for crap-pie and multispecies angling.
€¢ RT188, an 18-foot, 8-inch bass de-sign rated for 115 horsepower.
Rapala is hoping the new Scatter Rap Series lures and their 'evasive action ' will be as popular as the original 'wounded minnow ' style action that the company is famous for. The new lure has a 'Scatter Lip ' that creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweep-ing action. Ideal for multispecies gamefish, the Scatter Rap Series is available in 14-16 classic and new color patterns. Baits 5- to 9-feet deep.
YUM's F2 MightEE Worm is 10 1/2-inches long, has an arrowhead shaped bulge toward the end and is made for big bass. Because the worm tapers to a smaller circumference before blow-ing back out to the bulge, the tail sec-tion wags back-and-forth in the water with each breath of current.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
HAVOC JUICE WORM
MSRP,Package of 12 Juice Worms $3.49.
Designed by Boyd Duckett, the new Havoc Juice Worm gives anglers more action which produces more strikes than any other worms on the market. The slim ribbed 8-inch body has a long, flexible ribbon tail that produces a unique swimming action. 20 colors.
G-Loomis'Jig and Worms Serie GLX rods offer sensitivity to feel the bite and the power to control the fish. GLX models feature Fuji Titanium SIC guides, along with a new proprie-tary reel seat and split-grip handle configurations.
Crestliner's VT19 has a .100 gauge aluminum hull, is 19 feet long with a 91-inch beam. Rated for 150 horse-power and has a top speed of 60 mph. 1,085 pounds and a maximum pay-load of 1,300 pounds. An elevated starboard console has a windscreen, switch panel, gauges and in-dash Lowrance depth finder. 30-gallon aerated livewell. Motor Guide trolling motor.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
CAROLINA SKIFF DLV SERIES
MSRP, $18,178-$22,950, no motor, trailer.
Carolina Skiff's DLV Series is an unsinkable, all-fiberglass, modified-V hull designed for offshore or shallow-water fishing. The series has five siz-es, from the 17-foot DLV 178 with a 90-horsepower outboard to the 25-foot DLV 258 that powers up with a 200hp. High-speed bilge pump, cush-ion seat set, built-in cooler and plenty of storage.
ABU GARCIA REVO SX
Abu Garcia's Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
BERKLEY JAR BAIT FOLDER
Anglers who use jar baits know it's a pain to carry more than a few. Berk-ley now has two Jar Bait Folders to keep the baits at hand and make them easy to transport. Model 1170 holds 10 jars. Model 1490 holds 16. Both have various pockets and a D-ring for pliers.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
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