April is a big month for bass fisherman at Lake Gaston on the North Carolina/Virginia border. As the spawn closes in, bass activity will reach a fever pitch, and anglers like guide J.T. Palmore of Blackstone, Va., will be focusing on fish in both the prespawn and spawning phases.
For starters, Palmore (804-586-7645), disregards the upper section of Gaston due to the cold water that flows in from the bottom of Kerr Lake. The water below the Eaton’s Ferry bridge will be the first to warm up, and that’s where Palmore will focus his efforts, near creeks like Pea Hill, Lizard, Stonehouse, Lee’s or Jimmy’s.
Although their interiors will be the target once the spawn erupts, Palmore hits the main-lake points nearby earlier in the month to catch the bigger, prespawn fish.
“You can catch fish on the secondary points in the creeks, but you’re usually going to run into the smaller males that are getting ready to go up and make their nests,” Palmore said. “I’ll go out and fish some of the wind-blown, main-lake points with a ¾-ounce, double willow-leaf spinnerbait in white/chartreuse. Points with stumps and rocks in 3 to 10 feet of water will be the best.”
Although Palmore said there’s a possibility for spawning once the water reaches 62 degrees in conjunction with a full moon, he said the optimal temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees. The closer the water inches toward this window, the more Palmore will focus on stumps and docks near which bass will spawn in the shallow, well-protected water back in the creeks.
“If the fish haven’t gone into full spawn — before they hit the beds — they will suspend under those docks,” Palmore said. “That’s when the wacky worm is really good. I’ll wacky rig a green pumpkin or watermelon seed Senko with a 4/0 Owner circle hook with a weed guard and cast it using a spinning rod spooled with 15-pound braid tied to a section of 8-pound Gamma fluorocarbon leader.
“When most of the fish get on the beds, its typical bed fishing. I’ll be sight-casting jigs with soft plastics like a crawfish pattern or a Baby Brush Hog in a watermelon seed color — anything that will aggravate the fish until they bite.”
Although most of the spawn will occur in 2 to 3 feet of water, Palmore said bass will spawn as far down as light can reach their eggs. Well-protected coves with stumps and a sandy bottom and the ends of shallow docks are prime spots.