June is a month I really look forward to. In most lakes in the Carolinas, you’re going to be able to catch bass a bunch of different ways, because 85 percent of them have finished spawning, moved out and are feeding again. You might have a few late spawners at Buggs Island or Lake Gaston up on the Virginia border, but most fish are over the spawn and ready to eat.
You might catch them on a Carolina rig with an 8-inch lizard or a 10-inch Power Worm, and a swimming jig has become a lot more popular over the past few years, but if you know me, you know that I’m going to be fishing Berkley Dredger crankbaits, which are smaller than anything else that can run deep.
As far as colors, I’m going to throw blue and blue/pearl, which are good colors for post-spawn fish. Chartreuse is still a good big-fish bait, and if you can get it, the color honey — which is like the old gray shad color — is really good.
I start looking for bass around the first of June from about halfway back in creeks out to the main lake. Bass are going to move out of spawning pockets, and when they’re ready to feed again, they’re going to get on real sharp breaks or drops, channel breaks. They’ll start out in 8 to 10 feet of water, and after a couple of weeks, they’ll get out about 15 feet deep. If you have a little creek where a lot of bass have spawned, you can catch them around the mouth of that creek, where it empties into the bigger creek. That narrows down a lot the places you look for them.
These days, with all or our advanced electronics, there aren’t a lot of secret places left where you can find fish, places that nobody else knows about but you can still find them. I believe fishing pressure has had an effect on these bass over the past 10 years. I’ve noticed them getting deeper and deeper every year. The last year or two, I’ve caught a lot of fish at 20 feet in places where they had normally been 12 to 15 feet deep.
June is the month when fish don’t have to really have a lot of cover to hold on. They’ll hold on those breaks, and there can be nothing else there. They like hard bottoms: shells, rocks or gravel. You can see the hard bottom and the fish on your down-vision. These will be places where fish have lived for years.
The perfect combination is a hard bottom with some wooden cover. Sometimes brush can be good, but stumps are much better. That’s why boat docks can be really good in June. You can find a lot of them close to creek channels and nice drops, on hard bottoms. The best places 20 years ago are still the best places, but there are only so many good, key places on any lake.
Now, here’s how things have changed, and I think fishing pressure is about the only thing I can point to that’s caused the changes. Fifteen or 20 years ago, you could go to one of these places and catch 20 fish, maybe catch a 20-pound limit, without moving. Now, you stop on a good spot and catch three or four fish, and that’s the best you can hope for.
I think timing has become even more important than it used to be. You might stop on one of your good places and not catch one, then come back an hour or two later and not catch one, then come back later and catch them. I think fishing pressure has caused a fish’s window for feeding to become much smaller.
This makes it even more important to keep up with when power companies are pulling water and creating a current. They’ll bite when the water is running; that’s when you catch fish out in June.
Despite the changes, I still love June like no other month. It’s my favorite time to fish, and it’s worth some real effort on your part.