High water is an angler’s friend

High water that’s stained to dirty is a big draw for Lake Wylie bass looking to head for the shallows.

March is typically a rainy month, and as part of the Catawba River system, Lake Wylie gets local rain as well as rain and melting snow from the waterways well upstream, which means anglers will get to fish their share of high water this month.

For fishermen like Mike Stephens of Charlotte, that’s a blessing.

“When I fish Lake Wylie in March, I want it to be high water,” said Stephens, who won a Carolinas Bass Classic event on Wylie last March during a period of high water. “These bass have spawning on their minds, and a lot of them are shallow, just waiting for the right water temperature to spawn. Some are at different depths and random locations in or just outside of the creeks.

“When the water gets higher than normal, they look for a reference point. It’s like a person being in a room when the lights go out. The first thing they want to do is find a wall to give them a reference point. When the water gets high, these fish will move to reference points like the bank or dock pilings, so the fish are positioned in predictable areas.”

And, Stephens said, high water usually means dirty water, which is prime time for his favorite lures. He said anglers can resort to “junk fishing”, which he does by throwing a combination of four lures until he finds what the fish are biting; Speed Trap or Bandit crankbaits, double-bladed spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, and 1/2-ounce jigs with trailers are his go-to lures, and the ones he has used to catch his share of fish on Wylie this month.

The fish won’t usually bite all four of those lures on any single day, so Stephens said anglers just have to spend a little time fishing each until they start getting bit, then stick with that one as long as it works. He also said Shad Raps and green pumpkinseed plastic worms on shaky heads are promising lures.

Stephens said some anglers get discouraged with high water because they believe the fish have so much water to explore that they will be tough to locate, but Stephens said the opposite is true.

“When the water is higher than normal, more fish will be tighter to the bank than at any other time. And especially this month, they are as willing to bite as ever,” he said.

Subscribe now, get unlimited access for $19.99 per year

Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Carolina Sportsman Magazine and CarolinaSportsman.com.

About Brian Cope 2284 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 brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.