Old North State Fishing Report
Overall lake fishing has been tough in February and the trend continued a little longer this year. Most anglers across the state have accepted this longer winter pattern and pushed back the spring patterns. Fish were still caught and even some of quality size as indicated by the winter bass trail results. But most anglers have started to see signs of longer days, a few red maple blooms peaking out and some warmer days. March madness is here and not a minute to soon. So get some new sunscreen, some new line or maybe a few new lures and get on out on the water.
Capt. Paul Rose, www.carolinabonefishing.com
Theodore Peters Jr. of Roxboro Trading Post (336-322-4100) can give your fishing reels and rods of any make the attention required after a long cold winter to have you ready for the season. Stop in on your way to the lake for the local conditions, tackle and a gear tune-up. Guide Kennon Brown of Hawg Hunter Guide Service works out of the same shop. “Pre-spawn is BIG bass time.”
Power plant lakes are ahead of other local lakes from heated discharges. Water downstream of the outflows can be warmer and congregates bait and game fish. Guide Buddy Parks (336-414-4648) suggests drifting from the outflow for about 1 mile and keeping an eye on the temperature gauge and how it relates to depth.
On his first drift, he will have a plain old hardware thermometer attached to a weight and line. He will measure depths and record the pattern of temperature changes under the surface then mark the electronics.
The next drift he sets out crappie spreads in the ideal temperature ranges (58 degrees) at specific depths (4-to-20 feet), using Calcutta minnows. “The crappies have been coming on strong and this really pinpoints where they are holding before getting real shallow.”
Bass fishing is also picking up particularly around the willows. Carolina rigs and spinnerbaits with minnow trailers are working for fish in a strong pre-spawn pattern. Depths can vary to as shallow as 4 feet.
Due the warm water resulting from power generation, Hyco Lake offers earlier season opportunities for fishing. “Sometimes these lakes can be weeks ahead of others” according to John Stevens at Hyco Marina (336-599-2211).
The biggest crappies of the year are under the bridges right now. Get them on minnows with and without standard crappie jigs. As spring approaches John “expects more of an abundance rather than these monster slabs.” Besides the excellent crappie bite, April on Hyco features a great white-spinnerbait pattern against rip rap. Try South Hyco Creek and don’t be afraid to use a top-water lure, like a Spook, for a really big fish.”
Jordan and Falls Lakes
Jamie Olive (919-625-0707) has his strategy worked out on these two gems. He guides on both lakes and the pattern for success is identical. Lucky for us he readily shares info.
“In Feb you had water around 43 degrees. With it getting so cold everything is going to be late. Longer days and increasing temperatures have bass now on both lakes moving up from the depths into pre-spawning positions, particularly the big females looking for crayfish.”
His biggest bass of 11 pounds came from this exact pattern and the water was just 49 degrees. “Start at the mouth of creeks and work back to the edge of the spawning flats. Follow well defined channels and hit all the secondary points. Use Carolina rigged centipedes and Senko worms rigged wacky.
If it is windy, target the same points and any rock formations with lipless crankbaits and shad raps to score on the reaction bites. Spinnerbaits will work great on the south and west sides of the same points. Once you get a few strikes, get the jig or shakey heads out to slow it down for a few quality bites.
On Falls, fish Upper and Lower Batton and New Light Creeks. On Jordan best bets are Beaver, Whiteoak and Bush Creeks.”
Rich Szczerbala (919-418-2912) had this to say: “February was definitely slow and tough. Water was as low as 40-to-43 degrees. As the water gets up to low 50’s, the bass are pulling up to stage.
The primrose edge will hold fish and anglers should throw jigs and Netbaits in paca craw. If the water is calm, fish will suspend on these edges but can be spooky so stay off them a bit.
If the bite becomes tough, move out into the middle of the coves on the creek channel edges. As the water gets close to 60, move on the inside edge of the primrose and fan cast unweighted trick worms on 2/0 hooks with a swivel and 12-pound flouro to prevent twisting. Try a buzzbait to score a trophy.” Rich had a record 5 fish for 39 pounds on staging patterns like this.
Joel Richardson (336-643-7214) reports in with a rock pattern holding up well. “Fish rocks with deep water close by using spinnerbaits in chartreuse/white or crawfish cranks running 6-8 feet down. Jigs will always work.
Plenty of 3-5lb fish are being caught but expect a good 6-7 pounder one to bite. Spawn action runs from the end of March and well into April this year. Use floating worms in bubblegum/white or pumpkin lizards. Hit the visible cover in 5-feet of water. The Eaton Ferry Bridge to the dam has the clearer water”
Lynn Harvell had to endure temperatures as low as 38-to-39 degrees. But all is well now as “crappie are on brush tops and logs using 5/16oz jigs (c/r, c/b, and c/b) under a float.
You can also use small gold hooks and small minnows with a small shot about 4-feet up. Pre -spawn bass will react to Carolina rigged lizards on 3/0 hooks. Tandem spinnerbaits also have been productive along main lake points, around wood, and willow bushes. March and April temperatures will run 50-to-53 degrees.