Start the day on top
Even in the dead of summer, the topwater bite is plenty active for bass on High Rock Lake. And once that bite cools a bit, anglers can find other fish willing to bite in other locations of this lake.
Bailey Hollingsworth of Lexington, NC grew up fishing High Rock, and said fishing this body of water is always special to him. He’s got a pretty good pattern for finding fish here in the hottest part of the year. And each day starts on top.
“In the summertime it’s great to start the morning out with topwater,” he said. “It’s the most fun bite you’ll ever have.”
It’s also productive. Hollingsworth prefers a Rico popper, and his preferred color is bone.
The Rico offers a little something extra over most poppers, he said.
“When you pop it, you can make that chug and that plop sound that everybody’s familiar with. But you can also walk this one,” he said, referring to the walk-the-dog pattern so popular in other, non-popping lures. “That walking can really get them fired up, and some fish just can’t resist that.”
As the day heats up, Hollingsworth said he finds plenty of bass offshore, around any type of sunken debris or structure. That’s when he uses a Texas-rigged soft plastic lure. Curly-tail worms and large creature baits are his go-to there. He targets rocks, brush piles, humps and points.
“A Texas rig is easy to use. You throw it out and you can drag it, hop it, and make your own twist to it,” he said. “It’s a key bait for me in the summer.”
He also uses a Carolina rig when fishing in deep water. He uses a 3/4-ounce egg weight, two beads, a two-way swivel and a long leader tied to a 4/0 EWG worm hook. He finishes that off with a soft plastic creature bait or big curly tail worm. He suggests a heavy-powered rod when using Carolina rigs.
Another lure that he often uses this time of year is a crankbait. Hollingsworth said this works especially well when the fish aren’t reacting to the slower-moving soft plastics.
“A big thing for me on High Rock is cranking. Cranking is a great tool to have,” he said.
Rapala’s DT series of crankbaits, which dive to whatever number follows the DT for each particular model, is one of his favorites.
“I fish the DT series crankbaits on 12-pound, copolymer line. You can really get these baits tuned in to where the fish are,” he said.
It’s important that anglers do more than just allow the lure to swim through the water. Hollingsworth said your goal should be to have that crankbait digging into the bottom or knocking into whatever underwater structure is present.
“When you take these baits offshore and you’re fishing these humps, points and anything you find offshore, you want to crank these baits down and keep contact with the bottom. You want it hitting high spots on the bottom. If you’re not feeling the bottom, you want to go to a deeper diving crankbait,” he said.
To keep the lure in the strike zone longer, he uses a baitcasting reel with a 5.1:1 gear ratio. He pairs it with a medium-heavy crankbait rod.