Largemouth bass in lakes across North Carolina will begin spawning very shortly, if they already aren’t. And that marks a period that can be frustrating for fishermen because bass aren’t interested in eating. But former bass pro Dustin Wilks of Rocky Mount knows what it takes to get bedding bass to strike.

“You just have to get the bass agitated enough to hit a lure,” he said. “It takes about 10 to 12 casts to get one really mad.”

If Wilks spots a largemouth bass he wants to catch, he’ll flip a small black jig past its spawning bed. He’ll wait until the bass has its back turned to the lure, then he will rip the lure past the fish’s side.

The bass will react by quickly turning to see what made the commotion and vibration it felt as the lure passed.

“I do this about 10 times,” Wilks said. “When the bass is turning circles, going crazy, that’s when I know I can catch him or her.”

On his next cast, he’ll rip the lure beside the bass, and then let it fall in front of the fish’s face.

“They’ll bite it then because they’re so angry and frustrated,” he said. “That’s when you set the hook.”

Wilks cautioned against anglers keeping too many big females because it can negatively affect the spawn and a reservoir’s fish population.

“I want to emphasize that people should always release bass they catch off beds near where they caught them, especially the females,” he said. “You don’t want to ride a bass around all day in a livewell, then release it nowhere near its bed. I think that confuses them, and they may not bed at all. Bluegills will eat a large percentage of bass fry anyway, so you don’t want to do anything to reduce the numbers of bass fry that will survive.”