Maybe the warm, early spring weather forced bass to become more acclimated to heat, but even now in the middle of a torrid summer, with surface temperatures at most North Carolina piedmont lakes hot enough to boil shrimp, largemouth bass are active in shallow water.

"It might be that or it might be it's where the baitfish are, but something has got these bass active in hot weather, and sometimes where you wouldn't expect to find them this time of year," said guide Joel Richardson of Kernersville.

Like most bass fishermen, he doesn't like to travel far if he can find largemouths to catch near to his home but Richardson said, "You're gonna be surprised when I tell you I've been catching bass at Belews Lake."

Belews, which bridges Forsyth, Rockingham and Stokes counties, is unusual because it contains Duke Energy's largest coal-fired plant, which uses water from the lake to power steam generators. But that means the 3,863-acre impoundment's waters are heated year-round from the warm-water discharge, and they are more amenable to winter-time bass fishing.

During the summer, it gets downright brutal, but apparently not enough to turn off the bass bite this year.

"Right now, surface temps are 95 to 99 degrees at Belews, but I've been able to catch a lot of bass in the evenings in relatively shallow water," said Richardson (336-803-2195). 

In the evenings, he's been using topwater lures such as Zara Spooks and buzzbaits, plus Texas- and Carolina-rigged plastic worms in junebug, watermelon with red flake and green pumpkin in 7 to 10 feet of water. 

"I've also been fishing really deep at Belews, in 25 to 30 feet of water," Richardson said. 

The water temperature, he noted, makes a large drop to 75 to 78 degrees at the 25-foot level. 

"There seems to be a real sharp temperature thermocline," he said. "I'm sure that's probably true at some other lakes … in the summer." 

One of his best deep-water lures is a soft-plastic Fin-S on a half-ounce football-head jig. It resembles a shad, of which the lake has many such baitfish.


Richardson said he doesn't think Belews Lake is alone in having a shallow-water bite in the peak of the summer heat. He also guides at Jordan Lake and Randleman Dam Reservoir, and he said both bodies of water are producing plenty of largemouths in relatively shallow water.