Largemouth bass have been making their way toward spawning beds for weeks at Lake Norman, but the days leading up to this past weekend’s full moon saw that movement pick up in a big way. Anglers are catching bass all around the lake as the fish head to docks for sheltered spawning grounds.
“They begin moving to creeks and shallower water beginning in mid-February,” said Hank Cherry of Maiden, a Bassmaster Elite Series angler. “It’s usually over by the third week in April. Some last till early May, but April’s it. They’ve pretty much made their move.”
While bass normally move into brushy and secluded pockets to spawn, away from the deeper water and safe from most egg-stealing predators, because Norman is so developed, bass have resorted to making their beds right beneath and around the boat docks.
“They don’t really have a choice,”Cherry said. “They are conditioned (to use what habitat is available).”
That conditioning is great news for fishermen. A bass boat is almost unnecessary —stand on any dock and scout for bass beds to cast to. Pitch soft plastics across and retrieve them right by the fish’s nose.
Cherry said the secret to pushing an individual bass’s buttons was to find the type of lure each particular fish is keen on.
“They all have different attitudes. They all eat different stuff.”
Cherry rigs several rods with everything from life-size baitfish lures down to small jigheads and wacky worm rigs. When he finds a bass, he plants his Power-Poles and casts until he catches the fish. If one bait doesn’t work, he drops it in order to try the next one, and so on until he makes his way back around to the top of the rotation.
It’s tedious work. Males are staked to the beds, and females are hunkered down nearby. It takes a serious threat to the eggs to make the bass defend their offspring —a serious and consistent threat. Take the time to repeatedly reel past the beds to wear the parents’patience down.
Bass are easier to find while on spawning beds than at any other time of year, but it’s that willingness to sit tight that makes them tough to catch —and, ultimately, the fisherman to be successful.