Tuckertown bass looking for cleaner water in March

David Berrier of Lexington, N.C. caught this big Tuckertown bass in March, fishing a jerkbait in dirty water. (Picture by Tony Garitta)

Pick your days — and water — for March bass at Tuckertown

For many fans, March Madness takes place on the basketball court. But for fishermen, the action takes place with a roll of the dice at Tuckertown Lake.

If fishermen are unlucky, they’ll be greeted with blustery winds, trashy water, cold temperatures and bass with lockjaw.

If they’re lucky, piscatorial high rollers will find the lake fishable, with waters ranging from stained to a modest brown in the major creeks. Should these water conditions get coupled with a warming trend, they could find themselves battling staging bass up to 6 pounds.

This season, gambling on a big-bass bite in March might be more against the odds than usual.  Fall and winter brought heavy rains that kept Tuckertown unsettled and trashy. Only the far reaches of Riles and Ellis creeks — the latter aka Newsom’s —have had fishable waters.

But if Lady Luck prevails, fishermen can find a treasure trove of quality bass.

Anglers can entice the heavyweights with green pumpkin and black/blue jigs crawled along steep, rocky banks, secondary points, road beds and ledges.

Brown water is better than red or chocolate

Ellis Creek features many of these productive places. On its left side, it has old road beds, an island and deep banks. On its right side, it has a gravel bank littered with tree laps and occasional stumps. The bridge at its entrance always deserves several casts. Docks in the creek shouldn’t be ignored, either.

The points at the entrance to Flat Creek can be dynamite at times, as well as the high spot in the creek marked by a buoy.

The creek at the NC 49 landing has steep points and gravel banks. Riles Creek usually contains the clearest water in the lake. It’s home to rocky banks, stumps, tree laps and high spots.

Jerkbaits shouldn’t be overlooked in off-colored water, as long as the water is only brown and not red or chocolate. Last year, David Berrier of Lexington, N.C., and I caught several bass in the 4- to 5-pound range before we left sight of the Flat Creek Landing, fishing jerkbaits in dirty, brown water.

Small, shallow-running crankbaits and lipless crankbaits in chartreuse, green or red crawdad are also worthy March baits. They should track no more than 5 feet deep, or they’ll get clogged by the black mat algae that dominates the shoreline. Fortunately, the algae is somewhat subdued in March, allowing fishermen to crank for bass. That won’t be true later in the year.

Newcomers to Tuckertown should proceed with caution. Several of the red and green channel markers indicating safe passage around the stump-laden flat at the Flat Creek Landing have drifted off their designated places.

Fishing for big bass at Tuckertown can be quite a gamble in March, but the risk is worth it when those big ones start pulling your line.

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