June was once prime time for crankbait fishing at Tuckertown Lake, the 2,560-acre impoundment on the Yadkin River between High Rock and Badin lakes.
However, an outbreak of black mat algae and elodea grass has choked out many coveted points, deep stumps and offshore ledges, leaving crankbait fishermen with few places they can fish without getting their baits fouled in the vegetation.
Consequently, shaky head jigs, standard jigs and Texas-rigged plastics have become the primary weapons for quality largemouth bass at Tuckertown. And that development plays into the hands of anglers Dwayne Saunders of Star and Robert Parrish of Albemarle.
This past April, the two fishermen won a tournament at Tuckertown with a five-fish haul totaling 24.37 pounds, all caught with jigs and plastic creature baits.
Although Parrish favors the spinnerbait, he knows opportunities for that lure are limited in June unless the day is overcast, or he resorts to slow-rolling the bait in deep water.
More than likely, he’ll be fishing a jig like Saunders.
“In June, I’ll be using the jig in 12 to 20 feet of water along rocky points, steep bluff corners, and ledges,” said Saunders. “I’ll either drag the jig or pump it slowly.”
Each Tuckertown fisherman has his own favorite style of jig for probing the lake’s rugged structure. Pleasant Garden’s Brad Staley likes the football jig and drags it along points and high spots where the bait kicks up dirt akin to a crawfish.
The technique known as “bottom-bugging” made famous by pro angler Tommy Biffle is gaining popularity at Tuckertown. Bottom-bugging employs a football jig with a free-swinging hook impaled with a plastic creature bait that’s scurried along the bottom off long points and ridges.
Wayne Lawson and Dale Hege, two Ramseur fishermen, use shaky head jigs with trick worms. They fish them out from the stumpy ridges near the mouths of Flat and Lick creeks, where they’ve caught many a 20-pound sack.
Others flip heavy jigs or Texas-rigged plastics among tree laps situated along steep rock walls.
Saunders sometimes forsakes the jig and gambles on an early topwater bite in the treacherous rocky waters below High Rock Dam. The area is accessed by carefully snaking through a line of rocks with the trolling motor under high water conditions.
Die-hard crankbait fishermen have some places they can fish where algae and grass won’t suffocate the action of their lures. These places include the rocky remnants of the abandoned railroad trestle at the mouth of Newsom’s and beyond, points and ledges near NC 49, and the rocks past Lick Creek.
Whatever the technique, the fishing is always better at Tuckertown when the lake is being pulled.