Jimmy and James Wall of Greensboro found an unusual fishing pattern on March 15 at Hyco Lake, a Duke Energy impoundment in Person County, and they landed one of the most impressive sacks of largemouth bass seen this spring in a Piedmont Bass Classic tournament.

Hyco is a cooling lake for Duke’s shoreline, coal-fired steam plant. The plant discharges hot water into a canal that feeds into the lake, so water temperatures in the winter and early spring range from the high 50s to the low 70s across the lake, no matter how cold the weather is.

“I prefished the lake the Saturday before and found a lot of spawning fish,” said the elder Wall. “One rolled up on a topwater bait, so when me and James fished the tournament, we stayed in cold (water) all day and threw swimbaits and Speed Traps.”

The Walls’ five biggest bass weighed 31.72 pounds, including the big fish of the event, a 10.43-pounder caught on a swimbait by James Wall. The next largest weight was 15.76 pounds, almost exactly half the Walls’ total.

“The big one hit in 15 feet of water,” Jimmy Wall said. “It was a nice anchor fish.”

The Walls landed 10 keepers and 18 total bass. They won $1,602 for first place, plus the $670 big-fish prize.

“A lot of people fished the hot-water discharge canal, so that’s why I stayed in cold water,” said Wall, president of the Guilford County Wildlife Club, who located fish with a depth finder.

 “I had six spots picked out, so we’d fished five of them, and James asked me if I had another spot, and I did, so we went, and that’s where he caught the big one,” Jimmy Wall said

“James reeled the swimbait back to the boat during the tournament,” his father said. “If we saw fish 15 feet deep, all he did was cast, count down to get the lure down to the right depth and start reelin’. We could look down (at the depth finder) and see the fish suspended. You could see them coming up toward baits.”

Their most-productive spots were points and creek-channel bends.