Winter drawdown keys Kerr Lake’s bass

Guide Joel Richardson doubled up on these Buggs Island fish: striped bass and largemouth bass.

Lower water level sends bass into feeding mode in December

Guide Joel Richardson of Kernersville, N.C., said bass fishing at Kerr Lake, aka Buggs Island, is “as good as it gets” come December.

“During December, the lake typically experiences a drawdown of 3 feet or more; that triggers the action,” Richardson said. “Fishermen can catch bass both shallow and deep.”

Richardson said some local anglers fish vertically with jigging spoons, bouncing their baits on deep structure in 20 to 25 feet of water. They’re adept with their electronics, locating concentrations of fish over high spots, main-lake points, ledges and channel drops.

If the weather is mild and the water temperature remains in the mid-50s, bass can be caught with topwaters wherever baitfish can be seen breaking the surface.

Richardson said fish can also be caught in the backs of creeks, following bait. They can be caught along steep banks, rocks and stumps in 6 feet of water or less.

Choose your lures wisely

Richardson (www.joelgrichardson.com) uses buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and medium-running crankbaits to entice strikes from these shallow bass. For hard baits, he selects shad patterns to mimic the forage in the lake.

If it’s cold and the bite slows, he fishes a 3/8-ounce jig’n’ chunk in black/blue or black/brown.

“Rock is the best bet,” said Richardson.

If he’s fortunate, he’ll stumble upon a bass bonanza in one of the lake’s many pockets.

“Occasionally, baitfish gather in huge numbers in a small pocket,” he said. “They’re packed so tight it’s as if you couldn’t squeeze any more in there. They’ll be plenty of largemouth bass mixed in with some stripers in that pocket, and the fish keep returning to the place until the baitfish leave.”

Richardson said finding these pockets is a hit-or-miss proposition.

“You could motor about all week and never find one,” said Richardson. “Buggs covers 50,000 acres, so you need to be lucky to find a pocket loaded with baitfish.”

Don’t let the cold keep you off the water

Richardson said fishermen shouldn’t be deterred by the cold.

“I’ve had some of my best days at Buggs in the snow,” he said. “The main concern is dealing with slippery or frozen ramps.”

Richardson said another plus is that in December, there’s little fishing pressure.

“You’ll just about have the lake all to yourself,” said Richrdson, who won’t fish Buggs in December if the lake is flooded.

“With the typical winter drawdown, it’s rare to encounter high water conditions this time of year,” said Richardson. “But with all the storms and hurricanes we’ve had this fall, there’s no telling.

“When Buggs is flooded, winter bass don’t relate to the flooded trees and bushes for some reason. They move deep and become almost impossible to catch.”

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