Big-Time Bass Fishing On Falls Lake

Big-Time Bass Fishing On Falls Lake
Spring is prime time for good numbers and heavyweight bass on Falls Lake. Here's what you need to know to get in on Spring's hot action. (April 2009)

The bad news about spring bass fishing on Falls is . . . Well, there really is no bad news. About the closest you might come could be a fish-consumption advisory; however, very few anglers keep Falls Lake bass to eat anyway, so that really has little to do with the fishing outlook.

"Falls is absolutely loaded with big fish," said Dave Wolak, a BASS Elite Series pro from Wake Forest. Wolak travels all over the nation to compete in tournaments, but some of the finest fishing action he enjoys is close to home at Falls Lake, which impounds 12,500 acres along the Neuse River, just outside of Wake Forest.

"Falls Lake is noted as one of the premier largemouth bass lakes in North Carolina," said Kirk Rundle, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission biologist who is over the lake's fisheries management efforts.

Everything about Falls screams out "bass lake." Its shallow upper end is stumpy and typically thick with aquatic vegetation. A deeper lower main body offers rocky ledges, long, sloping points and other good structures. In between, massive stump fields tangled with treetops, well-defined creek channel ledges and laydown-rich banks provide tremendous bass habitat.


Electro-shocking surveys, which are conducted annually by the NCWRC, reveal that the bass population is in very good condition, according to Rundle. Fish numbers and size distribution are both very good, and average weights per given length are considered ideal, with an abundance of plump, healthy fish. Falls Lake bass feed mostly on a mix of shad, sunfish of assorted species and minnows, and the condition of fish sampled indirectly suggests that there is ample forage in the lake, Rundle noted.


Approximately half the fish captured during the most recent shocking survey were more than 14 inches long, and approximately 20 percent were more than 16 inches long -- both typical numbers for Falls Lake, but far better than the numbers for most lakes.

"The largemouth bass populations at Falls Lake have remained rather consistent over the years, with no major changes in the data," Rundle said. "Trophy largemouths have been collected on a routine basis."

Falls is managed for big-fish production, with a 16-inch minimum size limit, but Rundle said that the size limit has minimal effect on the fishery because of the extreme popularity of catch-and-release fishing for bass of all sizes. "The excellent habitat and forage available at Falls Lake have the greatest impact on producing a high-quality largemouth bass population," he said.

Interestingly, NCWRC biologists find very similar results when they sample in various areas of Falls Lake. The bass population is good throughout the lake, so the best area for an angler to fish really depends upon the season and on types of techniques that the angler favors.


For spring fishing, Rundle suggested that anglers look fairly shallow. "In the spring as water temperatures warm, largemouth bass will be found in shallower areas of the lake, adjacent to structure and cover such as weedbeds, rocky outcrops and fallen trees or stumps," he said.

Dave Wolak has a particular fondness for the month of April on Falls Lake because the big bass in the lake's deeper, clearer lower end move shallow for just a little while. "The fish in that part of the lake suspend quite a bit and can be difficult to catch at most times. During April, those fish move up into the pockets and will get really shallow," Wolak said.

Wolak concentrates on pockets off the main channel throughout the lower end of the lake and generally fishes one of two ways. If he locates any fish on beds, which is sometimes possible during April, he will sight-cast to individual fish. Otherwise, he'll just work through the pockets, swimming a white spinnerbait just beneath the surface, moving the bait quickly and covering a lot of water.


"Those big bass will just be cruising," he said, "If there's a big laydown in the back of a pocket, there might be five or six huge bass cruising around. When you throw that spinnerbait in there, they will race to it and will absolutely crush it."

Wolak pointed toward an Alpine-colored Booyah HD spinnerbait as ideal for the task. He likes the bait's white skirt and flashy tandem willow blades because of the sheer abundance of shad in the backs of the coves. Wolak generally will keep the boat moving, except after he catches fish, and will hit a lot of pockets in a day.

The one time that Wolak will slow down significantly is when he spots a big fish on a bed. Then he can't resist doing a little sight-casting. For bedding fish, he likes to have one rod rigged with something very natural, like a Green Pumpkin YUM Craw Papi and another with a Wounded Shad YUM Tube, which is white with red tips. He'll Texas rig both, leaving the weight unpegged, which he considers very important so that the bait will stand upright off the bottom when he drops it down into a bed. He also likes to keep one rod rigged with something weightless, like a wacky-rigged YUM Dinger or a floating worm.

"It's fun sight-fishing on Falls Lake because the water's clear enough to see the fish in that part of the lake, but it still has enough stain that you can throw pretty big baits and the fish will feed aggressively," Wolak said.

Wolak typically will begin his days in the clearest water in the lake's lower end during April, but he'll also spend time in the backs of several major creeks. He says that Upper and Lower Barton, New Light, Lodge and Lick creeks are a few of the best. "The creeks have a lot of timber in them, and the fish spend a lot of their time in the trees. That time of year, though, they'll move to the very backs of the creeks, where there are lots of laydowns and willows."

Up the creeks, he'll again throw his white spinnerbait, working close to the bank and making underhand pitches and side-armed casts to put his spinnerbait around every bit of cover. Wolak has fished other baits and he certainly catches a few bass on various other offerings. However, he has found nothing that he likes better than a white spinnerbait cast tight to the banks, fished close to cover and swam quickly, just under the surface, on Falls Lake during April.

For anglers who favor a Plan B, a good alternative for working the same shallow cover is a medium-sized, shallow-running, square-billed crankbait. A square bill will help a crankbait kick off the cover instead of getting hung -- and bumping the cover often is the key to a drawing strikes.

Because fish often will congregate on certain pi

eces of cover -- which often will look no different than other cover all along the same shore -- it's a good idea to slow down and fish an area more thoroughly anytime a fish strikes. Where there is one fish, there often are many, and sometimes flipping a Texas-rigged worm or crawfish imitation down into among the branches of a treetop is the key to pulling out those additional fish.

Wolak's basic strategy can be carried on up the lake. However, it's worth noting that the upper end of Falls Lake (anywhere upstream of the state Highway 50 bridge) can be very treacherous, with abundant shallow flats and many stumps. Anglers who are not extremely familiar with this part of the lake should exercise extreme caution, and with the fine fishing that's available in the rest of the lake this time of year, there's much to be said for staying downriver of the bridge.

Access to Falls Lake is good, with several public access points. For details about boat ramps maintained by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Division and two public fishing access areas that offer shoreline access, go online to www.ncwildlife.org. Largemouth bass must be at least 16 inches long to be kept. The daily limit is five fish.

There is a consumption advisory for largemouth bass at Falls Lake due to mercury contamination. Women of childbearing age and children under 15 should not eat any, while the remainder of the population is advised to eat no more than one meal per week of largemouth bass.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Minn Kota Raptor

Minn Kota Raptor

Associate Brand Manager Adam Knowles, from Minn Kota, talks with Rob Neuman from In-Fisherman, about the all-new Raptor shallow water anchor.

Veto Pebble Mine Campaign

Veto Pebble Mine Campaign

Veto Pebble Mine Campaign

AXS Dropshot Hook; Lazer Sharp Pro Series Avid Kit

AXS Dropshot Hook; Lazer Sharp Pro Series Avid Kit

Finesse anglers will love these new products from Eagle Claw; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

How to Catch Summertime

How to Catch Summertime's Deepwater Crappie

On windy summer days when the crappie have gone to deep-water brush piles, what tips and tricks are necessary to catch a limit of slabs? In this episode of Outdoors with Ole Pops, Jeff Williams shows you how to combine the right boat, trolling motor, and electronics package to catch fish on water bodies like Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Simply pull up on a brush pile, turn the electronics on, lower your minnow and Fle-Fly light wire circle hook into the school below, watch the strike on a Garmin Panoptix LiveScope unit, and start reeling in!

To learn more and to purchase Fle-Fly tackle, click here to visit their website.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Striper & Hybrid

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

New gear for kids and beginners from the annual fishing trade show. ICAST

New Fishing Gear for Young Anglers — ICAST 2020

Game & Fish Staff - July 16, 2020

New gear for kids and beginners from the annual fishing trade show.

See More Trending Articles

More Bass

When it turns miserably hot in the South, the biggest bass head for the thickest slop. Here's how-to remove them from their vegetative haunts. Playbook

Summer Lure Choices for Thick-Grass Bass

John Felsher - June 16, 2020

When it turns miserably hot in the South, the biggest bass head for the thickest slop. Here's...

Summer Playbook: Action abounds both on and off the water in the Western New York region. Playbook

Family Fishing Getaway: Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Jeff Knapp - July 23, 2020

Summer Playbook: Action abounds both on and off the water in the Western New York region.

An hour here, 30 minutes there, 10 casts after work; sometimes that's all it takes. Stories

Perspective: Satisfy Fishing Passion When You Can

Adam Heggenstaller - June 24, 2020

An hour here, 30 minutes there, 10 casts after work; sometimes that's all it takes.

Try Rainy River, Lake of the Woods, for a mid-summer dream trip. Playbook

Summer Family Fishing in Midwest: A Minnesota Mixed Bag

Mike Pehanich - July 27, 2020

Try Rainy River, Lake of the Woods, for a mid-summer dream trip.

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now