Fish are in a pre-spawn mode at many Piedmont reservoirs, particularly Jordan Lake. And that means anglers are on the cusp of fantastic, shallow-water fishing for sow largemouths that can rupture a hand-held scale's digital inner workings.
"The water's up and the fish are in the pre-spawn," said Triangle bass guide Jeff Thomas of Broadway. "I'm looking for them any minute to be on the banks. The water temperature is rising."
That means the big female lunkers will be on the shoreline, in 1 to 2 feet of water, making beds, laying eggs and male "buck" bass will be guarding the nests for a while. The "bucks," in fact, already are cruising the skinny water, waiting for the females to arrive.
"They are already catching some big bass at Jordan," said Thomas (Carolina Outdoors, 919-770-4654, http://www.carolinaoutdoors.net/). "A tournament last Saturday was won with 27 pounds (a 5 1/2-pound average weight for five bass)."
Currently, Thomas said, he's fishing first points in coves, especially those with structure, such as stumps, fallen trees or rocks.
"The fish are mostly in 4 feet of water, but some are a little farther off the bank," he said. "I've also been fishing secondary points at inside pockets."
Most of the bass are "bank-runners," from 2 to 2 1/2 pounds, "but very healthy," Thomas said.
His top lures have been white or chartruese/white spinnerbaits, shallow-running crankbaits or lipless crankbaits, such as Rat-L-Traps.
"The conditions are perfect for shallow-running crankbaits," Thomas said. "I'm throwing shad colors.
"I like a Custom Lures Unlimtied Vortex, which is a lipless rattlin' bait that doesn't have quite as big a wobble as other (crankbaits). I don't like a wide wobble in spring. I'm also using a 3-inch Bandit 200, a small profile bait."
Thomas said in one or two weeks, big fish will be nailed to the shoreline shallows and at the backs of creeks where the water temperature consistently will be between 62 and 68 degrees.
"The temperature now (water temp) is 52 (to start the day)," he said. "But it changes during the day -- if the sun's out and it's warm.
"(Bass) start moving when it gets to 57 degrees. But we're having one more cold front to come through, then it'll be really warming up next week and fishing should get good."
Thomas said weather conditions appear to be "one to two weeks" ahead of last year because trees are blooming.
"I think when the dogwoods bloom, that's when fishing really will be good at Jordan Lake," he said.