Guide Joel Richardson of Kernersville, N.C., said he’d rather fish Kerr Reservoir, aka Buggs Island, for largemouth bass and stripers in November than just about any other body of water. Not only are the two species active, but they can often be found feeding together in shallow water.
“It’s like spring fishing, with the fish in the creeks in water 8 feet deep or less,” said Richardson (www.joelgrichardson.com). “Buggs is usually down 3 to 5 feet this time of year, though it has dropped as low as 10 feet on occasion. The largemouth are in water so shallow it’s hard to believe a fish could thrive there; I’m speaking of water a foot deep.”
For largemouth bass, Richardson targets any rock, wood, stumps or brush in shallow water from midway back in the creeks to the extreme backs of the creeks. His baits include shallow-running crankbaits in shad or crawfish patterns for clear water and chartreuse hues for dingy water; lipless crankbaits; 1/2-ounce, big-bladed white/chartreuse spinnerbaits with tandem Colorado blades; and 1/2-ounce black/blue pig ’n’ jigs.
“With crankbaits, I use a stop-and-go retrieve and keep the bait in contact with the bottom,” said Richardson.
In early November, with the water temperature in the upper 50s, he throws a buzzbait early and late for topwater action.
“The buzzbait is deadly under those conditions,” said Richardson.
Of course, the presence of baitfish in the creeks is essential to draw fish to the shallow cover.
“You either need to see the forage on your electronics or see little flickers of shad in the area you’re fishing,” said Richardson, who believes fish can be caught throughout the 50,000-acre North Carolina-Virginia border reservoir this month but prefers the little creeks and nooks around Clarksville, Va., which harbor lots of rocks, logs, and baitfish and also yields fish up to 5 pounds.
“I don’t know where these 5-pounders come from,” said Richardson. “All summer, the biggest bass run around 3 pounds, then suddenly, a good number of 5-pound fish get caught in November.”
Stripers come into play when secondary points in 5 to 10 feet of water draw forage. Both largemouth bass and stripers move to the points for a Thanksgiving feast. Rat-L-Traps and crankbaits get stopped in their tracks by both species.
Richardson’s tackle consists of a 7-foot, medium-action rod and a 5-to-1 ratio bait casting reel spooled with 10- to 12-pound line for cranking and a 7-foot, heavy rod and 6-to-1 ratio baitcasting reel spooled with 17-pound test line for spinnerbait and jig fishing.