Since I became a bass fishermen so many years ago, there’s one thing I came to believe, and I’ve never taken it back. There is no better month to fish on our North Carolina lakes and rivers than June. I think it is absolutely the best month to fish, because bass are everywhere, hitting just about anything you want to throw at them.
They’ve finished the spawn, they’ve recovered for a couple of weeks during the postspawn, and they’re hungry; that’s what makes the fishing so good. You’re dealing with fish that aren’t bashful about striking anything that looks like food.
In most of our North Carolina lakes, there will still be quite a few bass in shallow water, but most of the fish, and the bigger fish, will be out off the bank in deeper water. Buggs Island is the exception because it’s farther north and two or three weeks behind the rest of our lakes.
What I’m looking for is fish that have moved out into about 10 feet of water. They start off by moving out of their spawning areas, maybe going through postspawn on the corners of pockets, but when they recover and move out, they go to creek-channel drops, little steep breaks, especially those adjacent to 8 or 10 feet of water. Just look for that kind of structure outside of big pockets off the main lake or in the creeks — anywhere next to a spawning area. As you get toward the end of June, they’ll move off onto main-lake ledges.
Brush piles can play a big role in where you find bass in June, but it’s secondary to rocks. Of all the places they go, they will be on places with a hard bottom, either rocks or shells. If there’s brush on those places, that makes them even better. I know a lot of people talking about looking for fish, but I am not necessarily looking for fish; I’m fishing these kinds of places. It doesn’t hurt if you find baitfish close by, but it’s these kinds of places that are going to hold fish; they’re not cruising around, following the bait.
When they get on these kinds of places has to do a lot with when they spawn took place. That can vary from lake to lake, and even on an individual lake. Basically, I think it takes bass about two or three weeks after they spawn to get on these kinds of places, and it’s around Memorial Day when the big concentrations of fish begin to show up. On lakes the size of High Rock, I like to start looking on the lower end, around Flat Swamp and Panther creeks, up to Abbotts Creek, but really, it’s small enough that it might be happening all over the lake within a few days’ time. On bigger lakes, it might take a week or 10 days from the lower end to the upper end to find bass moving out.
I think there are mainly two ways to catch good numbers of fish in June. Topwater baits are one way, because fish are very aggressive, and there are still a lot of fish close to the bank. Plus, in a lot of our North Carolina lakes, the shad spawn may still be going on in late May and early June, and that will put bass shallow, ready to strike at anything flipping on the surface. The other way is to fish offshore structure. It’s not difficult to find with the new, state-of-the-art electronics we all have, plus the map features most of the units carry.
I have made my living catching fish on crankbaits, and they’ll really be biting them in June. I am going to have a lot of medium-running baits tied on to reach that 8- to 10-foot range the first two weeks of June before the fish move out to breaks in about 15 feet of water later in the month. Then, I’ll go to deeper-diving baits. Berkley has come out with a line of Digger crankbaits that I worked on that are really special.
Crankbaits are great because fish are ganged up in June on these little spots. You might pull up to one little creek-channel drop and catch a limit on five casts and then cull a few times. Lots of fishermen will really slow down and fish these places with a jig or Carolina rig before they leave. And when bass move out, you really don’t need to find too many places; one or two of them can make your day.