There are two keys to catching bass on Lake Monticello in April, according to tournament angler Andy Wicker of nearby Pomaria: fish shallow and fish soft plastics.

“April is the one time of the year that I stay shallow all-day long on Lake Monticello,” said Wicker, a former member of Clemson’s bass-fishing team. “April is one of the most-fun times to fish the lake. I primarily sight-fish for bedding bass because they will be shallow and easy to spot in the clear water.”

Wicker concentrates on pockets and other shallow areas where he thinks bass will spawn, but he does not always target fish on the bed.

“You don’t have to sight-fish to catch bass on Monticello this time of year. You can just fish in the pockets and catch fish,” he said. “When I am cruising down the bank, looking for bedding fish, I always fish a plastic of some sort. I am a firm believer that fish prefer soft plastics over hard lures around the spawn. I usually throw a Texas-rigged curlytail worm, a weightless Senko or a floating worm.”

Wicker said bass — both largemouths and the lake’s unusual population of smallmouths — will move shallow when the first full moon coincides with the a few stable, warm days.

“It doesn’t have to be hot. I like to find the water temperature in the 59- to 64-degree range. When all three of these factors collide Monticello can be a really awesome place to fish.”

Not all areas of the lake are the same, Wicker noted. Some parts of the lake will be at different stages of the spawn due to the hot-water discharge from the power plant. Early in the month, there can be a significant difference between the water temperature in the upper end of the lake and the lower end, he noted.

“There is no good rule of thumb to figure out where to be, but fortunately, this lake is small enough that you can fish a spot or two in different areas until you start catching fish. Once you do, you can expand on that area to maximize your fishing day,” he said. “The spawning areas I look for are just the major arms or pockets of the lake and I usually fish towards the backs of them. The ones that are protected from the hard winds normally are best to try first.”

Starting about the middle of April, he noted, there can also be a good topwater bite that will last through the end of the month.

“The topwater bite can last all day this time of year. You are not looking to get as many bites on a topwater lure as on soft plastics, but you can catch some really nice fish this way.”