Bass have new, shallow summer pattern at High Rock

High Rock Lake is no longer a cranking paradise; bass pro Robert Walser said fish are shallow year-round — even in August. (Picture by Tony Garitta)

When sizzling August temperatures bake High Rock Lake’s serene waters, bass pro Robert Walser of Lexington, N.C., fishes shallow, knowing that the lake is no longer the deep, offshore structure haven it once was.

Even since Cube Hydro Carolinas took over ownership and management of the lake from Alcoa, the deep bite has been short-lived at High Rock, despite scorching water temperatures. Local anglers attribute the change to reduced water flow, poorly oxygenated water and steady water levels.

Indeed, the yo-yo of the Yadkin is no more. High Rock has become a shallow-water, pier fishing-lake, even during the dog days of summer.

A flipping fanatic, Walser loves the transformation. He fishes in less than 5 feet of water throughout August, targeting piers, laydowns, rails, rocks and washed-in logs.

“I don’t like fishing deep,” he said.

Occasionally, Walser fishes shallow-running crankbaits and topwater lures, but he catches most of his fish by relentlessly flipping shallow piers and docks with Zoom Z-Craw Jr. and Baby Brush Hog plastics. His gear consists of an 8-foot, Lamiglas flipping stick paired with a Pflueger Supreme reel filled with 20-pound Berkley fluorocarbon. He Texas-rigs his baits with 5/16-ounce tungsten weights.

“The rod is out-of-production, but I have it special-made, though I have to order a bunch of them,”  Walser said. “I once used custom-made 9-foot rods until I started fishing BASS, which restricts rod lengths to 8 feet. I prefer fluorocarbon line over braid because braid has a tendency to snag in wood.”

Walser chooses his plastics based upon the mood of the fish.

“I like the Z-Craw with its wild tail action for aggressive bass, and the subtle Baby Brush Hog for finicky bass,” said Walser. “My color choices include green pumpkin or black/blue.”

Early in the month, Walser flips deeper piers; late in the month, he attacks piers on flats. He contends the water is never too shallow to catch fish at High Rock.

“I’ve caught fish from piers in water so shallow my trolling motor would kick up mud as I moved along,” he said. “It’s not unusual for me to get bites at the pier poles or dock structures closest to the bank.”

Walser fishes piers in the upper end of the lake and the river section if High Rock is being pulled; otherwise, he’ll fish piers in Abbotts, Crane, Second, Swearing and Flat Swamp creeks, harboring no favorites.

“My only problem is getting under the bridges to fish the piers in Abbotts and Flat Swamp with high-water conditions,” he said.

Despite his penchant for flipping piers, Walser cautions fishermen not to overlook the morning topwater bite, especially on cloudy days.

“With poor water quality, the fish begin looking up,”  Walser said. “There can be a topwater bite for about 90 minutes in the morning with Splash It or prop-type lures.”

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