And they'll bite a crankbait.
I don't know what to expect this year. I don't know what June will hold after the cool weather we've had this spring. I'm afraid we're going to skip from spring dead into the heat of summer, with about one week of transition.
I'm gonna say that June this year will fish a lot like a normal May will around North Carolina. The way you normally fish around Mother's Day, that's the way you'll fish around Father's Day this year.
There will be a lot of topwater fish, especially early in the morning, especially the first part of the month. Bass will be on rocks for the most part: any kind of rock vein, rocky point, gravelly point or riprap. I think they'll start moving out in June, but there will be two or three weeks when they're sick between the spawn and when they bite again.
Start off by tying on a little finesse worm and a little square-billed crankbait and fish every shallow stump you can see. Docks can also be good; they're usually one of the best places to find fish in May, and they should be around them in June this year.
You might think you'll be able to catch 'em on the same spots you did when they were in the prespawn, on their way to the spawning flats, but you probably won't. When they're going in, they follow deep drops. When they're coming out, they come out in the channels - they migrate out using channels, even if they're shallow on them. They sort of filter in, but they come out real fast.
What you want to look for in terms of cover are drops with rocks and brush. You want to find shallow areas close to real deep ones; find some places they're going to move to when the come off the beds. When they start moving out, they really get out there in a hurry.
What a lot of fishermen don't know is that as soon as bass come off the beds from the spawn - during the two weeks when they act sick and won't bite - they get real deep right away. A bass might move off the bank right to 15 or 16 feet of water, and it's hard to catch 'em not only because they don't bite, you're not even looking in the right places.
When they get ready to bite again, when they're recovered from the spawn, they'll move back up, maybe to about eight feet deep, and get on those really sharp contour breaks and channel breaks.
I want to fish shad-colored crankbaits when they finally start to bite again, baits that will run about 10 feet deep. I want to fish a cranking rod with the new Lew's BB-1 baitcaster, spooled with 10-pound test Trilene, because making long casts will still be important. As June progresses, they'll move a little deeper. At High Rock, they get 10 to 12 feet deep; at Buggs Island, about 14 feet deep. They can go deeper at Lake Norman - they'll move on out on a lot of clear-water lakes.
I really think this is going to be a year when you don't go by the book. You'll have to work to find out what they're doing. I think it's going to be different from any year we've had in a long time, but don't give up on them. Find them and catch them.