One thing that gets bass and bass fishermen at least a little bit excited about summer is shade, and that’s why former bass pro Marty Stone of Fayetteville lists Lake Gaston as one of his favorite hot-weather lakes.

Stone, a three-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, said fishermen can give largemouths a big one-two punch this month on the 20,500-acre lake along the North Carolina-Virginia border northeast of Raleigh.

“You’ve got an early morning bite in shallow water in front of the grass beds, and then your old staple, boat docks,” said Stone, a former Lake Gaston guide. 

Grass beds and docks both provide bass with plenty of shallow-water shade, enough to keep a good number of fish from ever moving out into deeper water. Stone said he’ll start every fishing day casting a topwater popper or swimming a jig around the edges of shoreline grass.

“If you get some wind from the southwest, south or west, you don’t fight it (to fish topwater),” he said. “You just take a swimming jig and fish it in front of the grass. You’ll catch a couple of good fish every day doing that.

“The minute the sun pops up, it’s all about boat docks. My favorite ones have 7 feet or water or less in front of them. The shallower the dock is, the more the bluegill will stay around them. You don’t see any bluegill under docks in 25 feet of water, because at that depth, they turn into striper bait.

“I like to flip a little ball-head jig with a Zoom Critter Craw trailer on 12- to 15-pound test line, or fish a straight-tail worm on a 3/16- to 1/4-ounce weight — something like a Senko or a trick worm. I like the light line and lighter weights. I think they will get you more bites.”

Stone said being ready to move around the lake is also a key during the summer.

“I have a rule at Gaston: if I go into a creek and don’t get a bite in an hour, I’ll go to another creek,” he said. “At Gaston, creeks will fire off at different times. If they bite in one place in a creek, they’ll bite all over the creek. But there are usually only two or three creeks that will be better than the rest on any given day. You move around until you get in one of those creeks.”

Stone will also abandon creeks altogether to fish boat docks and grass beds that are on the main lake or in main-lake pockets.