Fishermen and fish have successfully adjusted to dramatic habitat changes at North Carolina’s Tuckertown Lake.
At one time, Tuckertown was a crankbait fisherman’s paradise in June, when quality bass moved from the shallows and congregated at offshore structure: high spots, points and rock ledges. A limit of 3- to 4- pounders could be caught from one spot.
Then, elodea and black-mat algae inundated the 2,600-acre lake, choking out many productive cranking places. The algae destroyed the canary reed grass that lined the banks and gradually extended out as deep as 12 feet. Cranking became limited to areas free of algae, so fishermen adjusted accordingly.
Brandon Shaver and Chad Cook, two Albemarle, N.C., anglers, made the necessary adjustments.
“With the outbreak of grass, the fish have stayed shallower than usual in June, sometimes in only several feet of water,” Shaver said. “In the mornings, we catch fish by working frogs and buzzbaits through the grass.”
During the day, they probe the grass with jigs and plastics. When that bite ceases, they target rocks and stumps in 10 to 12 feet of water with shaky heads jigs and crankbaits in parrot color.
Over the past few years, the lake’s habitat has changed again. Much of the elodea has been eliminated. Unfortunately, the untreatable black-mat algae has spread, cloaking the shoreline cover and tree laps. Fishermen often drag out a 3-pound bass mired in about 5 pounds of algae from the mats.
Consequently, Shaver and Cook rely more on the frog; it’s one of the few baits that can be maneuvered through the algae.
Without the grass cover, Shaver and Cook believe more bass are moving once again to deep water.
Mark and Audrey Bayse of Thomasville, N.C., successful competitors in tournament at Tuckertown, have learned to cope. They fish topwaters and frogs in the morning using 7-foot rods and high-speed reels for sound hooksets and for moving the fish quickly out of cover. During the day, they drag Zoom Ol’ Monster worms in black or black/grape along rock bottoms 8 to 12 feet deep.
“We drag the river channel where it comes close to points, because these places have less algae,” said Mark.
Tuckertown’s have adjusted as well. Despite the changes in habit, the lake still yields plenty of 18- to 20-pound stringers.