With runoff from snow melt and rain, John H. Kerr Reservoir still has cool water that’s stained to muddy, but guide Tim Wilson of Buffalo Junction, Va., said recent warming days already are starting to push female bass toward shallow water.

“The water is stained to muddy, and it’s hard to find clear water, but clear water is the best thing you can find right now,” said Wilson (434-374-8303). “The rain was making the lake rise, but now that it’s stopped, the level has stabilized at 302 feet.

“That means the water is in the bushes, but the fish aren’t in the bushes yet. They're out in front of them.”

Wilson has been catching quality fish on crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs in 8 to 12 feet of water.

“You have to work for fish, but they’re just on the verge of turning on,” he said, nothing that the surface water temperature has ranged from 45 to 48 degrees over the past few days. “I like it at least 50 degrees. That’s when the bite really seems to turn on.”

Nevertheless, he’s been catch quality 3- to 6-pound fish just outside spawning areas.

“I found some 49-degree water, and the big girls already had rolled in there,” said Wilson, who caught them with jerkbaits that featured gold and gold/orange sides with black backs. “They were in 3 feet of water.”

He caught them with shallow-diving jerkbaits that featured gold and golden-orange sides and black backs.

“Rapala also has a new jerkbait, the Shadow Rap, that’s working well,” he said. “If I wanted to fish Buggs right now, I’d go looking for one of those.”

Wilson’s favorite shoreline habitat areas that indicate nearby bass are clay banks and rocks.

“The sun hits the rocks and red clay and warms up the water quickly,” he said “But once the water temperature stabilizes, bass will get in the bushes. For right now, find a place like that with shad popping or gulls diving and bass usually will be there.”

Wilson said any type of shallow-running crankbait, such as a Flat A or a Speed Trap, also will catch bass.

Wilson rated Eastland, Nutbush and Panhandle creeks as good areas but said bass will be at other locales around the 49,500-acre lake.

“Just find shallow stained water at red-clay banks or rocky areas that have some sunshine on them,” he said.