High Rock in May a real test

Small crankbaits might be a good choice for May and the postspawn, but fish likely will be tough to catch early this month.

I was asked the other night how I think High Rock Lake will fish later this month when the pros fishing the BASS circuit arrive for one of their major tournaments.

It made me think about how difficult it can be to catch bass this month at reservoirs in this state.

May is a transition month when bass are doing a whole lot of different things in a whole lot of different places. Because they’re not really predictable, fishermen often have a difficult time figuring out how to catch more than one or two good fish a day — much less a good 5-fish limit.

The biggest reason that fishing is tough is bass are largely finishing the spawning period, and normally, they take about a two-week vacation from biting after they finish their reproductive duties.

A lot of smaller, male fish will be caught because it’s their job to guard the fry that hatch, but the big females all of us really want to catch — they’re doing what women do after they have babies: taking time off to recover.

What’s difficult is figuring how to avoid areas where most of the female fish are in the “recovery room.” There’s no real consistent way to do that.

Fishermen talk about moving to different parts of a lake in front of the spawn to make sure they keep catching aggressive, prespawn fish, but going the other direction, trying to avoid postspawn fish, is much more difficult.

May is really a feast and famine month. The first two or three weeks are famine, and maybe the last week is a feast — depending on where you’re fishing. There’s post-spawn going on most places.

The closer you go to the Virginia line, the more spawning fish you might find, because the water temperature may be a few degrees lower. You’ll even find some bass spawning at Kerr Lake (Buggs Island) in June.

As you move toward the South Carolina line, you’ll have fish at places such as Lake Wylie, Badin Lake and Lake Norman that will be recovered from the spawn by the third or fourth week and have moved out to those little secondary points I like to fish with a Rapala DT-10 or DT-16 crankbait.

But for the most part, I’m almost convinced it’s a good idea just to tie on a lure and hit the bank just as fast as hard as you can, covering as much water as you can.

One thing I like to fish are big plastic worms, such as a Zoom Big Dead Ringer or Ol’ Monster. I love Junebug and plum colors.

A few patterns can produce fish in May, and they’re different at different lakes. A lot of times fish will be at shallow stumps when they’re recovering from the spawn.

In the Piedmont, especially at the Yadkin River chain, they’re usually underneath or near docks. They like to get in shallow cover, shallow brush, and there’s a lot of brush around the docks.

Sometimes later in the month, they’ll get on little rocky points or little rock veins. At the end of May at Kerr, I’ve had some really good days using topwater lures — buzzbaits.

There are so many possibilities; you just want to bang your head against a wall sometimes. There’s so much going on, but there’s no one best pattern.

At some lakes, right after they spawn, fish go real deep, then come back up a couple of weeks later.

There have been tournaments I’ve fished where I caught ’em deep one day, then all of the sudden, they were at 10 feet the next day. You don’t know if the fish you were catching moved, or if it was another group of fish showing up.

And topwater is always going to be a possibility because you have shad coming up to spawn and a lot of bass moving up to chase them.

So what about High Rock this month?

In my mind, (BASS) is coming too early — the third week. The time they’re going to be here is probably the worst time of the year at High Rock.

All of the fish will be in-between. There’ll be a few fish spawning and a few fish shallow, but it’s too early to look for any kind of bite away from the banks.

The backs of some of the creeks will hold some fish, and there’ll be some fish caught up the river. May is usually the time of year Potts Creek gets good because they spawn up there earlier. I’ve told several of the guys that are coming a dock pattern could be pretty good.

I don’t see anybody winning with a jerkbait, even though it’s a good postspawn bait. High Rock has never been a good jerkbait lake because of the color of the water.

If you think about local tournaments, fishermen like John Drew and Steve Sink have really done well over the years fishing a jig at shallow brush and docks. That’s how a lot of fish are caught.

I don’t think it’ll take a real heavy weight to win the tournament. Somebody might get on a good group of fish in Potts Creek. They could bring in 20, 15 and 12 pounds, if everything worked out just right.

But I don’t think it will.


Editor’s note: David Fritts is a 50-year-old professional bass fisherman from Lexington. He was the 1993 BASS Masters Classic champion, the 1993-94 BASS Angler of the Year and the 1997 FLW Tour Champion. His sponsors include: Bass Pro Shops, Evinrude Motors, Ranger Boats, Chevy Trucks, Minn-Kota trolling motors, American Rodsmith, Rapala crankbaits and fishing line, Zoom plastics, Solar Bat sun glasses, Mountain Dew, Gripper (ECS Anchor Supply), VMC hooks, Pro Pocket and Blue Fox.

About David Fritts 128 Articles
David Fritts is a 61-year-old pro bass fisherman from Lexington, N.C. He won the 1993 Bassmasters Classic champion and the 1997 FLW Tour Championship, and he was the 1994 BASS Angler of the Year. He is sponsored by Ranger boats, Evinrude outboards, Lew’s, Minnkota,and Berkley.

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