Fluctuating water levels are challenging Jordan Lake anglers, especially after rains in the last 10 days put shad on the move towards the backs of creeks.

Jordan was down about 3 feet after it was dry for several weeks, then it jumped up 2 ½ to 3 feet after a Nov. 28 downpour,” said Jeff Thomas (919-770-4654), a Broadway-based guide.

Once the hard rain filled the lake, Thomas said he had to change his tactics and follow shad into creeks.

“Now I’m going to the backs of creeks and fishing wood, stumps and laydowns,” he said. “I’m (fishing) 0 to 4 feet (of water).”

Thomas’s go-to lures are Custom Lures Unlimited crankbaits or Rat-L-Traps.

“With the water (level) up like this, all you have to do is follow the shad toward the backs of (feeder) creeks,” he said.

Thomas said finding stained has been a key to discovering concentrations of largemouths this month.

“I don’t know exactly why shad go to the backs of creeks in the fall, but I think it may be because the water’s got a little color to it after it rains and you get runoff — and Jordan’s been unusually clear this fall,” he said. “So what happens when the sun shines on stained water, it’s a little warmer than the rest of the lake.

“I think that’s what pulls shad into creeks after it rains in the late fall and early winter. Shad are looking for a little warmth, and the bass follow them.” 

Thomas said surface water temperatures had ranged from 56 to 58 degrees before the recent cool weather. “With the cold rains and clouds, it’s probably dropped down lower than that,” he said, suggesting that anglers will need to present lures much more slowly.

Thomas said he and his clients aren’t racking up any of the lunkers for which Jordan is known, but most bass have been of decent size.

“Our bass averaged 2 ½ to 3 pounds, and we did catch one 4-pounder,” he said. “It’s a nice day when you catch fish like that.”