Question:  Jeffrey, what is a good general creek or area to fish during spring (when the females are almost ready to spawn) at Jordan?  Do they seem to have a preference for rock or wood at this time?  Thanks and keep up the great work!  Chad Craven

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Chad, great question.  The first thing I look for is a creek or cove on the north side of Jordan.  The reason being its more protected from a cold north wind and gets more direct sunlight to heat the water more.  A few degrees makes a big difference.  A good example of this is Bush creek.  I also look for area's with more water color, like in the back.  Stained water will heat more from sunlight and also retain the heat overnight longer than clear water.  I prefer rock over wood in the spring because it holds the heat better.  Good Fish'n!

Question:  Have any of you fished Lake James? The fishing there has went downhill over the years. Do you know of any patterns to use on that lake or do you consider it as beening the dead sea like everyone else does?

Chris Baumgardner says:

I fished a year end championship on Lake James, and the fishing was tough.  I think the main thing one needs to fish Lake James in use light line for the clear water.  I like to use fast moving, reaction type lures to get the smallmouth attention.  But deep clear lakes are always tough to fish, specially with cold water conditions like in the mountain.  I think night fishing is the better time in the summer.

Question:  I'm wondering how do you decide where to put out brush piles? What depth and location on the lake. Thanks, Scott

Ken Cook says:

Scott, There are two schools of thought on placing brushpiles.  One is to put them near good travel routes for the fish so they will be near deep water, etc.  Probably this is the way to go if there is a scarcity of cover in these types of places.  The other, and my personal favorite, is to place them in places that are devoid of cover and structure, and also, where no one else is likely to look.  This will concentrate those fish that are just roaming in, say a large flat area, with nothing to concentrate their location.  Both work out well, and are a great way to have a private "honey hole."

Question:  I wanted to fish the BFL and BASS Open next season. I've enjoyed tournament success with smaller clubs over the last 5 years but this passed season I lost some confidence.  I tried to force myself fishing different styles and different lures to become more versatile. This is where I failed to put limits of fish in the boat and this season was one of the worst ever. Not sure if I'm ready to step up to the big leagues.  My strengths were jig & pig, Texas rig, Carolina rig and spinner bait. I failed with cranks, finesse  worms, jigging spoons and for some reason very little success on top water this year. I thought the different approach would be good for the lack of water in our area.  Now I'm thinking of taking a back seat (co-angler) instead of front of the boat. Is this the right move or should I go with my strengths and try the PRO side?   Rich
Jeffrey Thomas says

Rich, only you can answer the question if you are ready to move up or not.  I would suggest you try the BFL first since it is less expensive with entry fees and travel.  You can fish a division that is close to you and perhaps water that is familiar.  The hardest thing about tournament fishing on the national trails like B.A.S.S. is being able to adjust to unfamiliar waters and conditions.  You cannot force fish to bite the way you want them to, you have to
adjust  I am not very good at clear water conditions or sight fishing, two things that I encounter on the national scene, but I have worked on gaining confidence in those situations.  Fishing the back of the boat in a B.A.S.S Open or even an Everstart Series tournament is a good way to see new water, new techniques and how different people approach it.  If you do try this, take your boat, practice as though you are fishing as a pro, and see how you compare under the conditions.  Like I stated, you will know when you are ready to make the next step.

Question: What are some of the best baits and what colors for fall  bass fishing? In
clear and muddy water? What about rainy days and sunny days? Thank's and God bless. B&J

Jeffrey Thomas says:

B&J - During the fall, I like to use baits that imitate shad.  I will concentrate on the fall shad migration into creeks and coves because so will the bass.  I like to downsize some in the fall, using smaller profile baits.  In clearer water, I will use a 1/4 oz hawg caller spinnerbait with white skirt or blue glimmer.  Alot of the times, bass will be schooling in the fall, and I will retrieve the spinnerbait just above the surface.  A smaller chrome rat-l-trap is also a good choice.  For stained or muddy water, I will switch to a 3/8 hawg caller spinnerbait with larger blades to give off more sound.  I like to slow down in muddy water, keying on the shallow cove

Question: What are the best colors to use this time of year at Harris? Also, what do you think about the senko baits at this lake. Please let me know.  M.C.

Jeffrey Thomas says:

M.C. - The water is usually pretty clear at Harris, so I like to use lighter color hues.  You can't go wrong using some form of green with plastics, like green pumkin, watermelon or kudzu.  Later in the fall, as the water turns over and gets colder, the grass will begin to die and the water color will turn a brownish tint, almost like tea.  I will switch to a darker color then, like junebug.  Senkos, and similar baits, like a Hawg Caller Teezo, are the hot topic and bait right now.  Any of the mentioned colors will work.  I think the reason for them being so successful is that it is something different to the bass.  There have been alot of tournaments won at Harris fishing a Senko type bait wacky style year round.      

Question:  I have a young son, what is the best way to get him interrested in fishing?  My problem is my lack of knowledge in fishing and baits.  Please help.   Tony

Chris Baumgardner says:

I have a young son, Ryan, who is 6.  I found that it is best to keep each outing short and fun.  Keep it short, so he doesn't get tired.  Don't pressure him, let it come natural.  Also, I tend to fish for something easy, like bream or white bass, again keeping it simple and fun.  Young kids get bored easy, so remember not to pressure them.

Question: I read a study on largemouth bass in river systems that were caught and implanted with radio transmitters. It said that largemouths migrate upstream to winter and downstream in summer. Is that behavior typical over the whole United states?  Mike
Ken Cook says:

  Mike -- I think not. The tagging, recapture, transmitter studies that have been done have been really inconclusive. The data (pool) is so small, there just hasn't been enough of it to say it's good information. There have been some studies that show that smallmouths go back to where they were caught from, with largemouths less likely to do this. In my opinion, if bass are transplanted somewhere that has good habitat and food, they tend to stay. But if they're transplanted into habitat that's already occupied by other bass, they will move down the bank to find "empty apartments," so to speak. The research is inconclusive. You can't make a blanket statement. I don't think seasonal movements are a good generality either. But that may be more true in tidal rivers.

Question:  I'm fishing a river that has 6 inches of water at the bank, then slopes 30 yards to 2 feet of water. Then it drops to 10 feet. This river has a ton of boat traffic. How would you fish this water in April?  Jeff

Ken Cook says:

  Jeff -- If it's not tidal, try to get away from the main river. Get into backwaters, assuming the fish will be in areas where they have spawned and where most food production will be. If it is tidal, fish shallow early, before the boat traffic stirs up that shallow shoreline. When that happens, it causes the pH and oxygen level to go down, which means bad water quality. During the day, back off to the secondary drop, to get away from the shallow, stirred-up water. Boat traffic is a huge factor in that kind of situation.

Question:  If you had the chance to either fish Eufaula or West Point the 24th - 26th of this month, which would you choose and why?  Thanks.  Curtiss Singleton Duluth, Ga.

Jeffrey Thomas says:

  Curtiss, both are great lakes, and I have fond memories fishing both.  West Point is the lake that I qualified for my first All American in '93.  I almost won the Eufaula Everstart, finishing 3rd there.  But if I had to decide, I would choose Eufuala becuase it is loaded with fish.  If the water is up, there is more shoreline cover, like willows and grass.  Plus the river is more accessible than on West Point.  During the fall, I like to run up the rivers on a lake.  I think the water cools quicker up river, making the fish go into their fall feed sooner than the main lake.   Plus there is usually current up river, making the fish more active.  Good Fish'n!

Question:  What's the best time to start fishing a floating worm?  Steven

Chris Elliott says:

Steven, I like to start fishing a floating worm as soon as the water temperature reaches 60 degrees.   Fish can be caught on it when the water temps are a little cooler, but it really gets good at around 60 degrees or higher.

Question:  Hi my name is frank and i just moved from california to charlotte nc and dont own a boat but do have a float tube i used in ca to fish for bass can i use that on nc lakes everyone ive talked to says im crazy if i do .....i love to bass fish and im finding it very difficult to locate a lake with fishable shore line i was wondering if you could give me any info to where i can find a lake i can fish from shore for bass with some kind of structure. thank you in advance for any info you can give me.

Jeffrey Thomas says:

         Frank, I used to fish local farm ponds and small rivers in a float.  I would suggest you look into getting permission to fish smaller bodies of water, like farm ponds or city lakes.  Jordan Lake has several connecting smaller bodies of water, perfect for a float, no boats allowed.  We call one Baby Jordan, and is located at Ebenezer Landing, another is next to Farrington ramp.  Try the upper part of Lake Wylie.  Some of the best places to fish can be less pressured, hard to access, other than in a float.  Farm ponds are great, just be sure to ask permission before hand.

Question: With all the new cooler water dumping into the lakes (esp. Jordan) and the water temperatures still being relatively high (70's) prior to the rains.  How and where would one plan to try and define a pattern with all the drastic water changes?  Thanks, Stacy Cannon

Jeffrey Thomas says:

         First of all Stacy, I would look for the cleanest water I could find.  With the sudden rise in water, the water will be extremely muddy.  It will take bass less time to adjust in clearer water.  Next, due to the prior low water conditions, I would key only on the pockets and cuts off the main lake.  I don't think the fish will move as quickly to the back of creeks because they were already pulled out from low water.  Also look for places that you can reach the bank or shoreline, like rip rap.  Bass will suspend more around the cover, so use something to cover water, like a spinnerbait.  Once the lake begins to stabilize, the bass will move into shoreline cover.

Question:  Hello, I fished a tournament last weekend on kerr. All the teams that we talked to that caught limits said they were flipping. My partner and myself did catch two keepers before 8:00 but never could get anything else. My question is how do you pick apart a peice of cover? With the lake being so high, how do you know what type of cover to target? Everything looks so good! Also what size weight should you use? We were on the outside edge of the timber in about 13 feet of water. How close should you try to get to the bank? Any help would be great. Thanks!

Jeffrey Thomas says: 

As a rule of thumb, during extreme high water, I try and get to the bank.  What I mean by this is fish an area I can reach the shoreline.  This maybe a powerline clearing, yard, pasture or just a steep bank.  This allows me to target flooded brush that is easier to fish, instead of the 13 ft you mentioned.  I like to use a pretty heavy sinker, 3/8 to 1/2, because the fish usually are suspended in the cover and will either hit the bait on the fall or follow it down.  High water, like at Kerr, can be a hard situation to figure them out with so much cover, but if you key on the new shoreline, you can find a productive pattern. 
© 2005 Carolina Outdoors
Question:  thank you again for the ? how do you learn to fish a jig lot of bi fish caought on it here un north carolina how do you tell the bite and when a fish has it .

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Most jig bites are not bites that you feel.   When fishing a jig, you need to learn to watch your line.  Most bites will come as the jig falls, making the line either jump, move some or get tight.   I use a line I can see, like Sten Magna Flex in clear.  A good rule of thumb with a jig, is when it feels mushy, or line gets tight, set the hook.

Question:  When trying to establish a pattern, what are some rule of thumb to do this?  I have somewhat a good understanding of seasonal patterns, but how do you know when to change baits, colors, and locations you are fishing?
I hear a lot of people say "let the fish tell you what they want", however, if you are not getting bites, how do you go about getting the bites in the first place?  Brian

Ken Cook says:

Brian, a very good question, but one, actually several, with no easy, quick answer.  Along with seasonal locational patterns, you can consider the seasonal availability of food for the bass in the lake you are fishing.  For instance, typically, bass feed heavily on crawfish in pre-spawn and then switch to shad and/or bluegills in post spawn and then mainly shad in fall.  This helps to pick basic lure colors.  The next thing to consider when choosing lures is the potential bass habitats to be fished.  That is, choose lures that can be efficiently presented to the bass if they are in the chosen habitat. Use weedless type lures for heavy cover and treble hooded lures for rocks, etc.  Keep in mind the probable activity level of the bass depending on the water temp and weather conditions to help choose lures for their probable mood. 
If the water is cold or hot or muddy or some other factor is probably making the bass feel sluggish, then slow down with "food" lures such as a Berkley Power worm to allow the fish time to inspect the lure and choose to "eat" it.  If they may be more active or susceptible to reaction lures, then go with a Husky Jerk or Wiggle Wart to get a quick reflex strike. The key is to put an opportunity for the fish to strike your lure very close to its location so that is easy for the fish to contact your bait.  You have to weed through the available habitat types until you figure out which the bass prefer during your trip in order to put together a good fish catching pattern. 

By the way, keep your eyes out for my new book, "Ken Cook's Bass Logic" to printed and available this summer.
Bass Wishes, Ken Cook

Question:  i glad we have this web ? is i am in the look to do this for a living but cant seem to get start...i am here in north carolina...but there are not alot of open this part of the like i go and there like ten boats and it a club...i am fish harris jordan falls tillery badin high rock...i just not seeing alot of people plus i am not catch alot of fish i have love this since i was a kid i am very fustred!!!!!!! maybe you can give some tips for a good old country boy just getting back from to get started....thank you  premadonna

Jeffrey Thomas says:

First, let me say "Thank you" for protecting our freedom.  Now, to your question.  One of the best ways to get started is just like I did, join a local club.  It helped me learn from others, see new water and test my skills.  The club I was a member of used a draw format, got a different partner each month, something that in the beginning allowed me to learn.  Ask around, specially at your local ramps, I bet there is a club that will interrest you.  Fishing team tournaments can be fun with a buddy, but it will limit your learning curve to what he or you know.  Second, another good start is fishing some BFL ( events as a co-angler.  This will let you see how others fish under different conditions, and test your skill level on different lakes, that depending on which division you fish, are mostly local events.  Then, as you progress, you can move up to the Pro side of BFL.

Question:  I am planning to bass fish kerr lake the second week of April. When looking at this large lake on a map. How do you know where to start? What baits do you start with? and What is a good pattern to look for this time of year on Kerr?  Shelly Ginter

Jeffrey Thomas says:

First Shelly, don't try and learn the whole lake.  Its best to break down the lake into a smaller section, based on the seasonal pattern.  April means fish will be some where in the spawning cycle.  Alot depends on the moon phase, fish spawn on a full moon, and the water temperature and level.  A good starting place is the Nutbush arm of Kerr.  Patterns to look for are pre-spawn, and spawning (on the beds).  Choose a creek, fish it as if its a lake, learn what the fish are doing, then apply that to other areas.  A good starting pattern is a floating worm in and around the spawning pockets.

Question:  First of all, thanks for offering this "ask a pro" service.  It is pretty cool.
I have never been to Lake Gaston and I am going to fish it for the first time in late March.  I have been studying topo maps and based on our recent weather have marked what I think would be good pre-spawn or staging areas, were deep water comes close to shore, near mainlake small protected coves, bays or flats.  Within these areas, I also looked for creeks, stumps, or roadbeds.  I tried to narrow my search to areas with maximum sun exposure and protection from northern winds. Depending on the immediate weather, I plan on hitting these areas with jerkbaits, crankbaits, c-rigs, or possibly jigs if it appears that they are more shallow.
Am I on the right track?  Do you have any other suggestions that might help me eliminate water?  I am not looking for specifics, just general stuff such as areas of the lake that warm faster in the spring, general prespawn patterns, etc.  Any guidance is appreciated since I only expect a day or so of pre-fishing for this event.   Thanks,Chuck

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Sounds like you have done your homework Chuck.  You are on the right track and not much I can add to that.  Northern side of lake or coves and creeks will warm faster since they are more protected.  At Gaston, grass will be a factor and the deeper grass lines make for excellent staging area's.  My favorite pre-spawn pattern on Gaston was fishing docks just outside the spawning flats.  One thing that I learned over the years at Gaston is that the lower end seems to spawn before the upper end.  Targeting windy points with shad raps is a proven pattern on Gaston.  Good luck!