Aimost since it was impounded in 1981, Falls of the Neuse Lake has been known as much for the big largemouth bass it spit out as when those hawgs showed up.

For years, the last week of February and first week of March have been Lunker City on the 12,400-acre reservoir north of Raleigh and Durham. The 10-, 11- and 12-pound fish aren’t showing up as regularly as they did way back in the day, but there’s no denying that the lake is still putting out plenty of big fish.

“There are still a lot of double-digit fish coming out of Falls, but there are really a lot of 7- and 8-pound fish,” said Joel Munday of Outdoor Expeditions Guide Service. “March is the best month to get into the bigger fish. It’s prespawn fishing in full swing.”

Munday said he’s always marked Valentine’s Day on his calenddar as the time when bass start to stir and move out of deep water, staging on areas outside of potential spawning pockets and flats. The action usually intensifies for the next month as more and more fish move up.

“Without doubt, this is the absolute best time to get into big, prespawn bass,” Munday said. “They look all swollen up, like they’re about to pop.”

Munday said the earliest action begins from mid-lake up the lake, approximately from New Light Creek to the Cheek Road Bridge. He looks for a couple of features when he’s hunting for staging areas.

“I want to fish windblown, rocky areas adjacent to pockets and spawning coves, and I really like to find those places on south-facing banks,” said Munday (919-669-2959). 

“The ultimate goal of these fish is to get into areas close to where they’re going to spawn. Depending on the weather and conditions, 10 feet and less is the magic number.”

Munday’s primary search bait when he’s looking for concentrations of staging bass is a Shad Rap — “It’s hard to beat,” he said — or a spinnerbait.

“Once I find a school, I’ll position myself and cover the area thoroughly with a jig ‘n’ pig, a Carolina rig or a Texas rig,” he said.

Munday said the entire month of March can provide tremendous fishing at Falls of Neuse in those kinds of areas.

“They move up at different times, from mid-February all the way through March,” he said. “You’ll have groups of fish moving up and loading up in these areas.”