Last March, when unreasonably warm weather drove the big-bass bite to explode on North Carolina’s High Rock and Tuckertown lakes, the trophy bass at Badin Lake just downstream didn’t get the message. Few bruisers were caught, which was shocking, because Badin historically has been the best of the Yadkin River lakes for giant bass.

Bo Russell of New London, N.C., who conducts tournaments on 5,620-acre Badin, thinks he knows why.

“Badin started off with muddy water, then the lake cleared, and we had little rain thereafter,” he said. “It got gin-clear and stayed that way. If there’s one thing that will kill the bass bite at Badin, it’s ultra-clear water. Don’t get me wrong; plenty of 2- to 3-pound bass were caught, but big fish were scarce.”

Russell said with this year’s cold weather and run-off from heavy snows, Badin should have more stained waters this month, and fishermen should catch more line-stretching bass.

“I don’t fish the Circle Drive area or most of Beaver Dam Creek because those places usually have clear water,” Russell said. “I prefer the waters near the Alcoa landing and the main-stream section of Badin, which receives dirty water being pumped in from Tuckertown. The current also improves the fishing.”

Russell said the water temperature should range from 50 to 65 degrees in March. If it’s around 50 degrees or a little lower and the lake is fairly clear, he fishes a jerkbait or a shaky head jig. If they are higher than 50 degrees and the water has some color to it, he ties on a crankbait or a big spinnerbait. In either situation, he targets secondary points in the creeks, steep rocky banks and main-lake points in 8 to 25 feet of water.

When clear water forces fish deeper, Russell drags a Carolina rig.

“Near the end of March, the grass may come into play, but in early March, the grass is mostly dead,” he said. “The fish don’t seem to be on wood, either, so I’m mainly fishing rocky places.”

Russell mostly uses baitcasting gear, spooling on 10-pound fluorocarbon for crankbaits and 12- to 15-pound fluorocarbon for jigs and spinnerbaits. With small jerkbaits, he switches to light spinning tackle. Early in the morning or on a cloudy day, he may briefly try a Whopper Plopper for a topwater bite.

Given some stained water, Russell thinks Badin will return to form this March. He expects to see more five-fish, 20- to 26-pound bags weighed in at his tournaments.