While the 16-to 20-inch slot limit on North Carolina’s Shearon Harris Lake may be an obstacle for some tournament anglers, it is a boon for the casual angler.

“There are plenty of bass within the slot limit for anglers to catch and release,” said Joel Munday of Outdoor Expeditions Guide Service. “I’m speaking of fish 3 pounds and up.”

For the trophy bass hunter at Harris, Munday said the bigger fish usually come from the remaining patches of hydrilla.

“At one time, Harris was inundated with hydrilla,” said Munday (919-669-2959). “Now, most of the grass has been killed off. The patches that are left will be at full growth in August.”

Munday said most locals probe the hydrilla with plastics and spinnerbaits for a big bite.

Offshore structure in the form of points and humps, some of which feature short, standing timber, holds large numbers of quality bass. Most are situated in 12 to 14 feet of water on the main body of the lake. A submerged railroad trestle is a productive community hot spot.

Carolina rigs with big, green pumpkin worms and deep-diving crankbaits with chartreuse backs account for plenty of bass on these places.

Munday always has a rod pre-rigged with a Fluke-type plastic or a Pop-R lure for surface action.

“Short bursts of fish crashing shad on top can occur any time during the day,” he said. “The activity ends quickly, so you have to be ready to cast into the feeding fish.”

The schools of feeding fish include white perch and largemouth bass mingled together in a brief frenzy. For better or worse, white perch are the newest species to take up residence in Shearon Harris.

“White perch can save the day on those rare occasions when the bass aren’t biting,” said Munday.

Hydrilla isn’t the only growth in Harris. Unfortunately, black mat algae has taken hold in the Buckhorn Branch and other areas of the lake. The algae not only smells, but its clingy nature kills the action of lures and requires being removed by hand.

“It’s a nuisance to fishermen, but the fish don’t seem to mind it,” said Munday. “Schools of bass have been observed swimming above it.”

After back-to-back weekends in 2017 featuring 5-fish, 40-pound catches, followed by BASSMASTER magazine ranking Harris as the fourth-best lake in the country and the top lake in the southeast, Harris, at only 4,100 acres, has experienced intense fishing pressure. 

Holleman’s Landing and Cross Point, the lake’s only two public landings, draw overflow traffic on weekends despite recent renovations.

“If at all possible, fish  Harris during the week,” Munday said.