If you like fishing offshore structure for bass, then June is your month, and Falls of the Neuse is your lake. The lion’s share of largemouths will take up residence on deeper drops and ready to feed up after the spawn on schools of passing shad.
According to guide Joel Munday of Holly Springs, a well-defined river channel that runs from the upper to the lower lake and a haven of stumps and rock piles make it a hot target.
“In June, you’re going to have fish that are littering those ledges of the river channel from the bottom end of the lake, all the way to the top,” said Munday (919-669-2959), who runs Outdoor Expeditions USA. “The shallower ledges in the upper end might be 8 to 12 feet and drop down to 15 to 18 feet, but the further down the lake you go, the deeper the drops are and the more often they occur. Some of those will drop from 15 feet down to 25 or 30 feet.”
Falls, which lies north of Raleigh between Durham and Wake Forest, covers more than 12,000 acres, so any shot at pulling out a fat limit will depend on your ability to narrow down the vast array of potential sweet spots.
“Ledges near a channel bend are usually going to be your most-productive areas,” Munday said. “They hold fish when other areas won’t, and they’ll do it more consistently. If you’ve got stumps or rocks, which are not hard to find at Falls, that makes it even better. I’ll be looking for baitfish in areas like these; I like to see some shad around them.
“I’ll start out with a crankbait,” said Mundy, “anything in the Rapala DT series. I’ll pick the diving depth of the lure depending on the area. If it’s 8 foot or less, I’ll hit it with a DT 10, which dives to 10 feet. I’ll use a DT 16 if it’s deeper than that. I want the bait to be banging along the bottom as it comes off the ledge; that’s very important. Chartreuse with a blue back seems to work well with just about any water clarity and conditions, and I’ll throw it on 10-pound fluorocarbon.
“If they’re not reacting to the crankbait,” he said, “I’ll back off and throw a Carolina rig. I like a 24- to 36-inch leader with a ½ to ¾ ounces of weight. A Zoom Trick Worm is hard to beat. I like natural colors like green pumpkin or watermelon seed, and I might add a little chartreuse to it.”
With this arrangement, Munday will throw directly to the school itself or fan-cast the area if he has marked sporadic fish. The Carolina rig is slowly dragged along the bottom, with the occasional lifting of the rod tip. Munday bumps up to 17-pound fluorocarbon for the worm.