Hit the banks for High Rock bass

Chris Brown catches plenty of nice High Rock Lake bass in extremely shallow water in April.
Chris Brown catches plenty of nice High Rock Lake bass in extremely shallow water in April.

Going shallow is the key

Chris Brown, a veteran fisherman from Lexington, N.C., said it’s almost impossible to fish too shallow in April at High Rock Lake for prespawn and spawning bass.

“When you think you’re fishing shallow, fish shallower,” Brown said. “The fish move shallower in April more than at any other time.”

After persistent rains, Brown said High Rock will likely be high and muddy this month. If that’s the situation, there’s little doubt where the bass will be.

“When the lake is full or nearly full, the bass always move into the buttonwood bushes and willows at the backs of nooks, pockets and creeks” Brown said. “You just need to find the productive ones. When you do, you can catch a good sack of fish.”

Some anglers contend that bigger fish come from the willows, which are scarce compared to buttonwood bushes.

The high water has its drawbacks. Many fishermen won’t be able to get their boats under bridges at the mouth of Abbotts and Flat Swamp creeks. The water behind both bridges hold some prime bushes. Anglers can access them from public ramps in the creeks, upstream from the bridges. But only if they are willing to restrict themselves to a given creek.

Dirty water is common this month

The other drawback is extremely muddy and trashy water. Fishermen have learned to catch fish in awful-looking brown water. But at times this season, parts of the lake have turned chocolate and filled with debris.

The river might run red.

“Areas set off from the river, like Potts Creek and the Pasture, could have fishable water,” said Brown, who uses either a spinnerbait in sexy shad or a jig in green pumpkin or black/blue for the shallow bite.

“Sexy shad-colored spinnerbaits are an effective color in clear or dingy water,” said Brown. His favorite places include Crane and Swearing creeks, plus mid-lake pockets. “I use black/blue jigs in muddy water, green pumpkin jigs in clear water.”

Brown rarely tries sight-fishing.

“The lake always has some color to it, making it difficult to see fish, even with polarized glasses,” he said. “The exception is Bucks Branch in Flat Swamp when it’s clear.”

Should the water drop out of the bushes, bass move to piers and corners, where Brown catches them on soft-plastic creature baits and Chatterbaits.

“If the water stays up, fishing can be really good,” he said.