Chatter-bassin’ on the Cape Fear River

The upper reaches of the Cape Fear River give up some chunky bass, and Chatterbaits are great lures. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Try Chatterbaits on Cape Fear River’s upper reaches

The Cape Fear River doesn’t get a lot of fanfare from largemouth bass anglers, but Jamie Hegarty of Raleigh, NC said that’s a mistake. It’s become one of his go-to spots when he’s itching for a largemouth scratch during winter.

“You just don’t hear a lot about bass fishing on the Cape Fear River. But I’ve had some of my best winter fishing days for largemouth on this river,” said Hegarty, who chronicles his fishing forays across the Carolinas on his YouTube Channel (

Hegarty said anglers should pay special attention to this river during any warming trends this month.

“I feel like anytime you have a few days of warm weather in a row, that’s a good time to fish here,” he said.

Getting off the main river and into secondary creeks is a big part of his strategy. These smaller creeks usually offer some of the warmest water on the Cape Fear River system this month, and he feels it’s the best place to catch bass feeding.

Bass in numbers

He uses a variety of lures, but one of his most productive lures is a Z-Man Chatterbait with a Z-Man soft plastic trailer. A color combination of red/black for the Chatterbait, along with muted green/brown colors for the trailer have produced some great days of fishing for him here.

“You can’t expect to catch a lot of big fish here, especially this time of year. But you can catch good numbers of bass, usually in a relatively short period of time by sticking to secondary creeks,” he said.

When he first began fishing here, he thought staying out of the current would be his best bet. But he’s caught plenty of fish right in the current of those smaller creeks. He’s also caught them in areas with no current at all, so he said it’s best to cover lots of water and try to develop a pattern based on that day’s bite.

Hegarty said even against the winter backdrop of leafless trees, anglers shouldn’t be surprised to see patches of bright green vegetation on the surface and beneath it in some creeks.

“I’ve been tempted to throw a frog in these creeks when I see so much vegetation, and if the water temperature is ever warm enough, I definitely will,” he said.

But he’s found the Chatterbait to be productive enough that it’s been hard for him to try anything else.

About Brian Cope 2745 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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