Badin Lake’s cooler, clearer, deeper water means hot summer bass-fishing

Badin Lake
When guide Maynard Edwards wants to target big bass during the summer, Badin Lake is his first choice.

Badin Lake’s topwater bite attracts plenty of summertime bass anglers.

Every bass fisherman knows that in a large lake, impounded by a dam, the most-active bite usually occurs when water moves through a dam.

Moving water is one factor that makes springtime fishing so good on most big bodies of water. That is of course, in addition to bass moving to the shallows in water that’s at an ideal temperature. But more than that, lakes swollen by rains force dam operators to release water downstream. And that triggers the feeding mode in nearly every fish species.

But during typically hot summers in North Carolina, lake managers don’t allow as much water to pass through their dams. They run only enough to generate hydroelectric power for the needs the particular power grid supplies, air conditioning in particular. And bass usually are in deeper water for the majority of each day. The exception is during early morning and evening hours when water temperatures are more comfortable closer to the surface.

But Badin Lake on the Yadkin River in North Carolina’s Piedmont is a little different. And that makes all the difference in the world for fishermen who want to chase chubs when the sun is out.

“It’s the best lake in summer, I think, for bass fishing on the entire Yadkin River chain, even though it’s the oldest lake on the river,” said veteran guide Maynard Edwards of Lexington.

The reason Edwards prefers Badin is fairly simple. It’s downriver from High Rock and Tuckertown lakes on the Yadkin system. And that position makes for cooler and clearer water.

Clear water is the key

“The water in Badin Lake is much clearer — really, really clearer than High Rock after a heavy rain, for instance. That’s because most of the water coming into Badin flows from the bottoms of the two lakes upstream,” Edwards said. “That means Badin’s water, as a rule, has almost all the sediments settled out upstream. Also, the water that goes into Badin comes from the base of the Tuckertown Dam, which is cooler water.

“Badin also is deeper than any of the lakes on the river. So that cooler water has a bigger catch basin, if you want to think of it that way, than any other lake on the Yadkin. And fish like to have cool water in summer. And the water coming (through)Tuckertown Dam is oxygenated. And one of the main problems in summer for fish in most big lakes is heated water doesn’t hold much oxygen. But Badin never lacks for cool water to let fish live comfortably. The lake also has a lot of grass, underwater vegetation, which is good for baitfish and for bass.”

Not only that, but Edwards said the water conditions at Badin Lake create good habitat for baitfish.

“It’s got all kinds of baitfish — gizzard shad, blueback herring and threadfin shad. But most of the big gizzard shad I catch close to the Tuckertown Dam,” he said.

Choose your lures wisely

Edwards, who runs Extreme Fishing Concepts, doesn’t use live-bait when bass fishing, saving that for striper excursions. But the presence of certain kinds of baitfish pushes him to use certain lures.

“I use artificial lures in July,” he said. “What type of lure depends on the time of day, and I also like to match my lures to the types of baitfish I know are in the lake.”

For the hour or two after daylight, Edwards prefers one lure almost to the exclusion of others.

“You put a 4-inch, white Zara Spook on my line, and I’m a happy camper,” he said.

With its walk-the-dog action when retrieved, a Spook resembles an injured shad. And nothing draws a predatory bass like prospects for an easy meal.

Edwards likes to cast toward shoreline structure, particularly along banks that have deep water nearby but also feature laydown trees. Bass sometimes like to hunker down in the submerged branches of fallen trees to ambush small baitfish. But they also want to be close enough to deep water that they can charge from cover to blast a foolish threadfin or gizzard shad lollygagging near the surface.

Buzzbaits catch plenty of bass

“I also like white, 3/8-ounce buzzbaits,” he said. “Really, I don’t know what a buzzbait resembles, but I know white’s a good color at Badin. I believe the gurgling sound of the blades makes bass mad. Maybe they think it’s a muskrat, duckling or something swimming on top.”

In trying to explain why buzzbaits work, pro anglers usually say they “trigger the predatory instincts” in bass. But the best explanation is a buzzbait has three of the four requirements for a good lure. It has sound, color and vibration. All it lacks is scent.

But before the sun gets too high in the July sky, Edwards will back off to deep water. Then he’ll cast Texas- or Carolina-rigged soft-plastic lizards, worms or creature baits at the sides of sloping points in deeper coves or points off the main lake’s shoreline.

“First, I might try a stump field in relatively shallow water, say 6- to 10-feet deep,” he said. “Then I’ll go out really deep, put the boat a fair distance off the shore, and cast down the side of a point.

“I like to throw a Texas-rigged lizard in chartreuse or watermelon (color pattern) and work it back to me. If I get a hookup, I might move to a 90-degree angle and work that spot instead of the whole side of the point. Usually if you catch one bass at a place that’s deeper, it’ll be holding a few more fish. Badin also has humps that are good places to try. Baitfish and bass get on those humps that come up out of deep water, especially if there’s some grass growing on the hump. Humps are also good places to find bass bustin’ on surface baitfish at times.”

Piers, rocky shorelines, and deep water

However, Edwards’ initial tactic at Badin will be to check out several places he knows have held good numbers of summer bass in the past.

On a recent trip, several of his favorite places included points near the mouths of coves that had piers extending from manicured lawns into the lake, with rocky shorelines and deep water nearby.

“There’s also a spot that everybody down here calls ‘Maynard’s Place,’” he said, chuckling.  It’s a ridge that’s actually an elongated point that splits a small cove on the right and a creek on the left, with the main lake behind their junction. So it actually is the convergence of two creek channels from 15- to 20-feet deep.

“I’ve sat out there on that spot all day and caught enough fish to win several tournaments,” Edwards said. “Everybody knows my boat, and people are pretty good about not runnin’ up on your spot when you’re fishing it.”

Edwards also employs to his advantage a depth-finder/GPS unit that’s loaded with waypoints. His units include a Lowrance on the console with a standard, transom-mount transducer that displays everything his boat passes over. He’s added a Humminbird side-scanner that shows what’s being reflected from a 90-degree angle on either side of his fishing platform out to 140 feet.

“I like the side-scanner,” Edwards said. “It really picks up what’s out there on either side of the boat. And that means I don’t have to depend on just the little cone underneath the boat. You don’t want to be guessing about whether you’re gonna fish a place with bass on it or not.”

Both units give a complete view

His side-scanner also offers a split-screen with about a third of the display showing the traditional two-dimensional view beside the side-scan view. This offers a complete understanding of what’s beneath and to the side of him.

What Edwards is searching for this month are baitfish pods, rocks, stumps, creek and river channels and gamefish in 10 to 25 feet of water.

“Bass don’t go as deep at Badin in summer because the lake’s got cooler water thanks to its depth,” he said. “But they do go deeper than they were in May and June and earlier in the spring.”

Edwards said he can tell the difference between bass, baitfish, schools of crappie, catfish and striped bass on his depth-finder screens. Baitfish schools show up as clouds while larger fish show up as elongated, inverted ‘Vs’ with yellow orbs at their center. The orb is an air bladder. The larger the orb, the larger the fish. Large marks on the bottom most often are catfish. Marks just above the bottom can be stripers or largemouths. And baitfish clouds usually are clustered above trees, stumps or rocks, but can be near the bottom.

Watch for bass schooling until afternoon

“Stripers in July usually are out in the open lake, roaming and looking for baitfish,” he said. “But bass at Badin are  likely to be schooling out in the lake from noon until about 2 p.m. And that doesn’t happen as much at the other lakes on the Yadkin.”

When that happens, Edwards drops his Carolina rigs and grabs a rod rigged with a Spook, buzzbait or Pop-R. He casts to swirls at the surface that reveal bass attacking shad.

What triggers this schooling action are bass finding pods of small, threadfin shad. Edwards thinks bass often chase shad in deep water. And the baitfish, trying to escape, head in the only direction left to them: up.

“Sometimes I’ll be sitting off a point and dragging a worm or lizard on the bottom, and all of a sudden, bass will start breaking on baitfish all around me or within casting distance,” he said. “That’s when you can have some real fun for a few minutes before the baitfish scatter and (the bass) go (deep) again.”

Edwards, who has fished the Yadkin system as long as anyone, said Badin is his favorite lake.

“If I go down there in July and don’t have a 15- or 20-bass day, I’m disappointed,” he said.

He said Badin Lake also turns out some whopping lunkers.

“There’s a 12-pounder at the big tank at Bass Pro Shops in Concord that came out of Badin,” Edwards said. “My buddy, Tony Tysinger, caught a 9-pound bass during practice for a tournament. And I’ve caught a bunch of 6s and 7s.”


HOW TO GET THERE — In the southern Piedmont, Badin Lake forms the border between Davidson and Montgomery counties on the east and Rowan and and Stanly counties on the west. The closest town is Denton to the northeast. The lake is best accessed from NC 49, NC 109 and NC 740. Popular access areas are Whip-O-Will Hollow off NC 109 on Lakemont Road, the Alcoa ramp off NC 740 in the town of Badin, a forest-service ramp in the Uwharrie National Forest on the southeastern corner, the Old Whitney Landing off NC 740 and the Gar Creek landing south of US 49 off Blaine Road. The popular Circle Drive access area off Shoreline Drive is closed until July 26 for improvements.

WHEN TO GO — July through September provide good summer bass fishing.

TACKLE/TECHNIQUES — Topwater baits, including Zara Spooks, Pop-Rs, and white buzzbaits are great for an hour or so after first light and on schooling bass during the middle of the day. Fishing deeper the rest of the day requires soft plastics fished on Carolina rigs or Texas rigs. Baitcasting outfits spooled with 15- to 20-pound mono are the usual ticket, but 40-pound braid is needed to fish the rocky, shallow tailrace below Tuckertown Dam.

FISHING INFO/GUIDES — Maynard Edwards, Extreme Fishing Concepts/Yadkin Lakes Guide Service, 336-247-1287. Highway 49 Sporting Goods, New London, 704-463-7053. See also Guides and Charters in Classifieds.

ACCOMMODATIONS — Best Western, Albemarle, 704-985-1111; Holiday Inn and Suites, Albemarle, 704-986-2100. Camping is available at a number of sites in the Uwharrie National Forest, 877-444-6777.

MAPS — Kingfisher Maps,; 800-326-0257; DeLorme’s N.C. Atlas & Gazetteer, 800-452-5931,

About Craig Holt 1382 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.