Bass are eager to move shallow
March fishing for North Carolina’s B. Everett Jordan Lake bass will be strongly weather-dependent. And fish will be poised to move up from winter holding areas to prespawn transition zones as soon as possible.
And that, according to angler Jonathan Phillips of Pittsboro, N.C., could be sooner than anglers think.
“We’ve always thought that 55 degrees was the magic number for Jordan Lake bass to move back into the creeks,” Phillips said. “But they’ll be back there at 49 to 52 degrees, and you can catch them. The water temperature is important, but not as much as the length of daylight.”
Phillips begins searching in the first two-thirds of the creeks, giving preferential treatment to those upstream of the US 64 bridge. He believes they turn on faster. He targets secondary points and red clay/rock outcroppings. Of these, he considers those closest to deep water to be the most productive. That’s because they allow bass to move vertically instead of horizontally during cold fronts. Anglers may be casting into a foot or two of water from a boat sitting in 15 to 20 feet.
Several lures choices work this month
“If the water is below 52 degrees, I’m throwing a No. 7 Shad Rap,” said Phillips. “It’s a balsa bait with a very subtle action, and they really like it when it’s cold. I’ll use any type of brown, yellow, red, or the original craw color. And I take a piece of Scotch Brite and knock the clear coat off it. I’ll use a stop-and-go retrieve, varying the times of the stop, and remember which interval I get bit on.
“As the water gets up to 54 to 55 degrees, they’ll bite a spinnerbait pretty good and a Chatterbait as well. They’ll bite a lipless crankbait or some kind of square bill. I prefer a ¼-ounce Luhr Jensen Speed Trap in the crystal craw color and throw it on a 7-foot JB Custom Rods medium cranking rod with a Lew’s reel spooled up with 12-pound fluorocarbon.”
Another productive March technique is fishing riprap with an Alabama rig. The rocks are an excellent source of heat, and most are near deep water access for sudden cold snaps. He prefers a 5-wire style rigged with white Keitech swimbaits on 1/8-ounce jigheads with light-wire hooks that can be pulled free from the rocks on 20-pound fluorocarbon. While many productive riprap areas can be found along causeways back in creeks, this scenario brings the main-lake back into play, especially the US 64 causeway where a number of 10- and 11-pounders have been caught in March.