Largemouth bass are at all stages of the spawn at Belews Lake, and that suits Kernersville guide Joel Richardson just fine. He can use a variety of lures and techniques to target whichever group of fish are most active
“A lot of fish are on the beds at Belews right now,” he said, “perhaps 40 percent. Then, I'd say 50 percent are prespawn and 10 percent are post-spawn.”
Rising water temperatures have turned on bass at the Duke Energy impoundment. A shoreline coal-fired steam plant discharges heated water into the lake, and right now it's at the perfect range – 64 to 68 degrees – Richardson said, to trigger spawning.
For the prespawners, he likes to use jigs and Carolina rigs.
“Prespawn fish will be in 15 feet or less of water on flats,” he said. “I like throwing jigs and Carolina-rigged soft plastics, always sticking with natural colors such as greens, browns and blacks – natural earth tones – and watermelon is always good, too.”
Richardson said anglers have a 50-50 chance to catch males or larger females cruising and looking to lock down on a bed.
He uses 4- to 6-inch French fry worms or lizards with a 3/4-ounce barrel weight. He also likes half-ounce jigs that are black/brown, green/brown or black/blue.
For spawning fish, he said anglers can go into coves and throw lures near wooden cover.
“A weightless Senko or trick worm are two good choices, and a shakey head will work, too, but you've got to be careful around the laydowns in coves or you'll get that light line broke,” said Richardson (336-803-2195). “A bright chartreuse or white trick worm and Senkos also will work.”
The major problem for anglers will be how to approach bass without spooking them, particularly females “because the water in Belews is gin clear,” Richardson said.
“You can see fish on beds down eight feet,” Richardson said, “so that means they can see you comin' from a long way, too.
“All the fish are a little tricky to catch in clear water. The bigger females, especially, are wary, and you better be on your Ps and Qs. If you make one little mistake in shallow water, they'll lock up, and you won't get another chance. Sometimes I'm able to catch them, and sometimes I'm not.”
Richardson doesn't target post-spawn largemouth unless he gets the right weather situation: a warm day that's cloudy and breezy.
“Then you take a Rat-L-Trap, spinnerbait or crankbait and fish windy shorelines,” he said. “If I'm throwin' a 1/4- to 1/2-ounce Trap, you can bet it's chrome-and-blue. It's the only color they need.”
Sometimes he’ll change up and cast a Bomber 6A or 7A crankbait in Tennessee shad or fire-tiger colors.
Most of the bass will be males in the 2- to 4-pound range, but Richardson said the lake has some fish that will go seven pounds or better.
“The main thing is, if you're sight fishing for bedding bass, please use catch-and-release,” he said. “If you catch a bass off a bed, turn it loose after you take a picture. You leave a bed unprotected, and the bluegills will wipe out the eggs. If you put a bass in a livewell and carry it around, you're killin' off your future fish.”
Richardson currently restricts his fishing territory from the mid-lake area to the dam.
“That's about half the lake and this time of year it has the best places,” he said. “Bass are liable to be at the main lake (shoreline) or in the coves.”