"Guys are doing really good on bass and crappie right now," said Joe Aldridge of Joe's Bait & Tackle in Albemarle, "but the best is yet to come."
Tillery's largemouth aren't tight to the shoreline yet, as the spawn remains a few weeks away. Some crappie already are in shallow water, but the majority are still staging just off the banks.
"Bass fishermen probably are having the best success using Alabama rigs, although it's not as good as it was last year for some reason," said Aldridge (704-982-8716). "They're also catching bass on crankbaits such as Speed Shads and Shad Raps. Regular shad colors are working the best."
Most bass are being taken around piers and brush piles "fairly close" to the shoreline, Aldridge said. Crappie fishing is the other hot topic at Lake Tillery as fish are just beginning to spawn.
"Some of the crappie still are hanging out in deep water, but this is the time of year when they should be moving toward the banks," said Aldridge, who said fishermen are catching slabs anywhere from five to 20 feet deep. They're ranging in size from ¾- to 1 ½ pounds, but some 2-pounders have been caught either casting jigs to structure of slow-trolling over deeper water.
"Four colors (of jigs) are working well right now for both groups of anglers," Aldridge said: the white/chartreuse combo called Acid Rain, Tennessee Shad (a darker version of Acid Rain with glitter), Yellow Jacket (yellow and black), and blue black/chartreuse tail. Favorite jig weights are 1/32 and 1/16 ounces.
"Some guys are drifting jigs while some are using ultra-light rods to cast into brush piles," Aldridge said. "The drifters sometimes tip their jigs with live minnows, and some people just drift with only minnows."