"Lake Hickory has been absolutely fabulous," said Claremonth's Andy Fox of Fishers of Men Guide Service. "Actually, fishing has been good all winter."
Fox attributed a relatively mild winter and the survival of shad for putting pounds on Hickory's largemouth. Not only that, but spotted bass fishing has been above average.
Fox (828-312-8771) said he's fishing an Alabama rig or crankbait at secondary, rocky points.
Anglers who can find a school of threadfin shad can throw an Alabama rig at them and probably pick up a big largemouth.
"They're eating up Alabama rigs, which mimic a school of shad," Fox said. "With the mild winter we've had, we think the shad survived and the bass have gotten big eating them. So if you throw a rig near a shad school, you'll likely get bit.
"The bass are inside the coves and full of eggs," he said. "Everyone thought something had happened to Hickory's bass last year because the fishing wasn't too good, but it's been unbelievable so far."
For example, Fox said, during a Master's Anglers Club event earlier this year, his pastor, Joel Frye of Oxford Baptist Church, caught a 6.66-pound spotted bass, and another fisherman, Brad Lawrence, caught a 9.03-pound largemouth.
"We were so amazed by the size of his largemouth that after the pastor weighed his spot, we released the fish back into the lake. That's when we realized we'd likely released the state-record spotted bass," Fox said.
Lawrence was fishing a shallow-diving crankbait in blue-and-silver colors, a lure that ran 4- to 6-feet deep, Fox said.
"He caught that 9-pound bass at a secondary, rocky point on the inside of a cove," Fox said. "I think Hickory's bass are staging right now, getting ready to go on the banks for the spawn, and the lake's giving up a lot of good-size fish. It's really been unbelievable."