One of the better lakes in North Carolina this month for explosive topwater strikes is Randleman Lake in Randolph and Guilford counties.
“The most awesome topwater action I’ve ever experienced took place at Randleman,” said pro angler Brad Staley of Pleasant Garden.
“With the unusually warm weather we had this (winter), the topwater action might begin sooner this season,” he said. “It historically starts after the spawn during the first week of May. When lake temperatures range from 68 to 70 degrees, the topwater bite is on.”
Staley looks for two topwater bites at Randleman: around bream beds and on long, flat points.
Staley looks for bream beds in shallow pockets where bass feed on the tiny panfish.
“Bream beds resemble hollowed-out honeycombs,” Staley said. “Also, check for little swirls indicating bream activity. Then tie on a surface bait and get ready for exciting action. The bigger bass often feed on bream.”
The choice of topwater baits is important. Staley favors topwater lures that make a “kerplunk” when popped, like a Pop-R or Splash-It.
“Work these baits slowly near the bream beds or any nearby clumps of grass or bushes or cut-and-cable trees,” Staley said. “Don’t be afraid to experiment if one bait doesn’t produce. The Pop-R makes a loud pop, while the Splash It emits a more-subtle pop. Sometimes, the fish prefer one over the other.”
Staley keeps a spare rod rigged with a Senko.
“If a fish misses the topwater lure, toss the Senko in the same place, and the fish will often grab it,” he said.
The other topwater bite occurs on long, flat points in 3 or 4 feet of water near spawning grounds. To fish them, Staley uses walking baits, such as Zara Spooks and Sammys, and he imparts a slow, steady retrieve.
For fishing Pop-R type baits, Staley chooses a 6-foot-6, medium-action rod; the shorter rod provides greater accuracy when targeting cover. For fishing points, Staley select a 7-foot medium-action rod for longer casts.
In both instances, he likes a high-speed reel filled with 12- to 14-pound monofilament to keep the fish away from cover.
“Don’t use fluorocarbon line with topwater lures,” Staley said. “Fluorocarbon line is heavy and sinks, killing the action of surface lures.”
Most fishermen associate topwater fishing with mornings and evenings. That doesn’t hold true at Randleman.
“I’ve had great topwater action throughout the day under blue bird skies as well as under cloudy skies,” Staley said. “When the topwater bite is on, it’s on.”