I have to admit, I wait the whole year for June to arrive, because it's my favorite month to catch bass on a crankbait. And I also have to admit, I'm afraid things are going to be different this year.

Bass have spawned early everywhere, and I really wouldn't be surprised if June doesn't turn out to fish like July usually does. We're really going to have to watch things.

Except for Buggs Island and Gaston, our northernmost lakes, most bass were finished spawning by the first of May. So I look for them to be going into their summer patterns early, moving out to 14 or 15 feet. I think it's inevitable. Somewhere along the way, the water will start to warm up fast, we'll have warm nights, and we'll start catching fish in June the way we usually do in July. I really think that's gonna happen.

I think fish go from stage to stage after the spawn. They spawn, they recover, then they start schooling up and move out on the flats - that's what's usually going on in June. Then, when the water heats up, they start to move out and head down, down, down. In a typical year, the very end of May and the first of June is great fishing, but I think the fish will already be breaking up. Fish will get more isolated, and you'll have to lean more on deep water.

They're already a month ahead of schedule. I don't think that's gonna change.

So, how do we normally approach July on our North Carolina lakes? The normal July pattern would be to move out and fish your first big contour break, but not the creek or river channels. Bass usually get on brush good in July, and that's why you have some good fishing around docks that have a lot of brush around them.

If I'm fishing a crankbait, I'm going to be looking for something that will run 12 to 15 feet deep. I still think your shad colors are going to be good, because they're always dominant in the summer, but your chartreuses, chartreuse/green, the Homer color - they'll be better than usual. You need to be making real long casts, so having a smooth reel like a Lew's will be important

If you're fishing plastic, you'll want a big bait like a Zoom Big Dead Ringer. The "plum" color usually is good in July, but it may be better in June this year.

One interesting thing is, I'll bet the topwater bite will be good in the mornings; you may still be able to catch some better topwater fish. You may catch fish around little rock veins and rocky points, especially around the first of the month. But by mid-July, the fish will be deep, on deep structure, on brush, stumps and rocks. You'd better be thinking about main-lake stuff.

The other thing I think you need to think about is surface temperature. When it starts to approach 80 degrees, it's almost a given that if the people who run the lake you're fishing - Duke Power, the Corps of Engineers, whoever - are not moving water, there won't be enough dissolved oxygen in deep water, and the fish will have to move shallow. A lot of people who fish High Rock know that there's usually a good bite around docks and piers at the end of July, because when there's no more oxygen in the deep water, bass have to move up.

So pay attention to how much rainfall you get and how much current is moving. That could have more to do with where and how you catch fish this June as any other factor. This year is different from any I've seen since I've been bass fishing. I can't wait until next year to get my normal June back.