Put up your deer-hunting gear for a day or two and treat yourself to some excellent fall bass fishing on this top-drawer North Carolina lake.
A Rapala DT-6 crankbait that resembles an injured shad is a prime fall bass lure when retrieved parallel to rip rap at Jordan Lake causeways and bridges. (Photo by Craig Holt)This 6-pound bass attacked a Stephen Lasher’s crankbait cast to a rock pile. (Photo by Craig Holt)
If deer hunting isn’t your November cup of tea, another outdoors activity offers plenty of action.
In some respects, fall bass fishing at North Carolina’s B. Everett Jordan Lake resembles chasing whitetails. Both involve scouting, knowing best times and where to go, being at hot spots and using appropriate equipment for success.
Some outdoorsmen believe November isn’t a great time to target largemouths. But it can be as productive as the spring spawn, and Jordan presents multiple chances to land whopping lunkers.
Two Durham County anglers who are tournament partners, best friends — and deer hunters —have deciphered the puzzle of November bass fishing in the 13,940-acre impoundment on the Haw River and New Hope Creek.
Stephen Lasher, 31, of Bahama, and Chad Fara, 36, of Durham, have won multiple bass tournaments on Jordan and other area lakes and rivers. The past two years, they’ve won season-ending championship tournaments, each of which offered a Ranger bass boat as the top prize. The pair also fishes for fun all year, and they intersperse November bass trips with some deer hunting.
“November at Jordan Lake kind of resembles prespawn fishing for bass,” Fara said.
Lasher, a former member of N.C. State’s BassPack fishing team, said several factors cause the lake’s largemouths to gang up where anglers can put lures in front of them.
“And they’re game-changers,” he said.
The first factor is water temperatures as it dips toward 60 degrees. Bass put on the feed bag to gain weight and prepare for the winter lull.
“It triggers the bite,” Lasher said, “and a lot of bass go to riprap at causeways, bridges and humps in the middle of coves. The other factor is wind. We get some strong winds that time of year that stack up baitfish against riprap.”
Sunlight also warms riprap, which attracts baitfish, while wind creates currents beneath bridges that are pinch-point highways for baitfish and bass.
Anglers Chad Fara (left) and Stephen Lasher admire a 5-pound Jordan Lake fall largemouth that slammed a black/blue 3/8-ounce jig. (Photo by Craig Holt)
When fishing bridges and causeways, Lasher and Fara cast and retrieve lures parallel to rocks at 45-degree angles from their boat.
“Sometimes bass can be tight on the rocks,” Fara said. “Sometimes they hang off riprap in 5 to 12 feet of water. The main problem is that riprap gets a lot of pressure.”
Steven Lasher and Chad Fara target the mouth of big coves for November bass. (Photo by Craig Holt)
The US 64 causeway bridge that crosses the 13,500-acre lake from east to west is a prime example of a place that gets lashed by hundreds of anglers.
“The best thing about fishing riprap in late fall is it holds some giants,” Lasher said.
Fara and Lasher often try other bridges and causeways that cross Jordan, the main two being the Ebenezer Church Road bridge at the mouth of Beaver Creek just south of mid-lake and the Farrington Road bridge on the northern end of the lake.
Additionally, sunken bridge spans with demolished rubble also are good targets. The old Poole Road bridge at the eastern end of Little Beaver Creek is such a place. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deconstructed that span while excavating Jordan before it was impounded. Today, the bridge’s center provides a pinch-point for baitfish where bass can collect during the fall.
“When the water starts to cool, the riprap bite lights up at these places,” Fara said. “We don’t spend time beating other banks.”
Best fall lures for riprap include Rat-L-Traps, Rapala DT-6 crankbaits and Alabama rigs.
“A bunch of tournaments have been won with Alabama rigs,” Lasher said.
Rat-L-Traps in chrome/black are countdown lures, most effective when allowed to sink at a rate of about a foot per second; they should be retrieved at moderate speeds. Rapala DT-6 crankbaits in mule, big shad and pearl/gray shiner colors are effective divers that easily reach 6 feet and can be bounced off riprap.
“Bass also likes Shad Raps in foxy shad color or an Excalibur One-Knocker,” Fara said. “I also like a No. 7 Shad Rap for fishing riprap.”
Alabama rigs are spreader/umbrella rigs that feature small plastic lures tied to multiple wire leaders. When retrieved, they resemble a school of baitfish and can be fished at any depth.
Fara and Lasher both like 7-foot-2, medium-heavy Kistler or Cashion rods and Lew’s reels spooled with 15- to 20-pound mono, depending on the type of structures they target.
Patience required to land Jordan bass on the rocks
Stephen Lasher and Chad Fara said nothing sparks Jordan Lake bass to bite in November better than blustery weather.
“I think it has something to do with the water temperature cooling down,” Lasher said. “A cloudy, breezy day with a passing cold front and rain is a good time to bass fish. Most people wouldn’t think about going in that weather, but it gets them moving.”
On the other hand, sunny days cause baitfish to orient to relatively shallow, rock-covered humps at the mouths of big coves, especially those with surrounding deeper water. And largemouths follow.
“Jordan Lake has lots of rock piles, especially at feeder-creek cove mouths,” Lasher said, “and bass like to get on them.”
The tops of rock piles may be as shallow as 6 to 10 feet deep, making them easily reached with medium-diving crankbaits and 3/8-ounce black/blue jigs.
Lasher’s bass boat has fish-finder equipment that includes Lowrance Elite 12 TI2 and PI2 sonar with 12-inch screens on the console and a 9-inch screen at the bow.
“Both have side-imaging,” Lasher said. “If bass aren’t moving, they look like long, thin lines. If they’re suspended off the bottom, you can see a shadow. Stumps show up as (blocky) shadows. And we can spot fish on humps.”
Using their sonar equipment, Fara and Lasher have saved dozens of rock-pile waypoints. They don’t pull directly on top of them; they’ll circle within casting distance and chunk lures to their targets.
“If we don’t get bites at one place, we’ll try a different one, then maybe return later,” Fara said. “November bass at Jordan may not bite at a spot when we arrive, but after we come back, we often catch them at the same place.”
HOW TO GET THERE — B. Everett Jordan Lake is south of the Raleigh-Durham area. US 64 is the best access point; it crosses the lake a few miles west of US 1, and several prominent public boat-access areas are within sight of the road. Other key routes are Farrington Point Rd. out of Chapel Hill and NC 751 out of Durham.
WHEN TO GO — November through February
BEST TECHNIQUES — Retrieve medium-diving or count-down crankbaits or Alabama rigs parallel to riprap at causeways or underneath bridge spans or DT-6 crankbaits or blue/black or brown/chartreuse jigs around rock piles in open water near cove mouths or at submerged road beds.
FISHING INFO/GUIDES — Wilsonville General Store, 919-362-7101; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 919-542-4501 for lake level reports and ramp closures. Also visit www.ncwildlife.org/Inland Fisheries.
ACCOMMODATIONS — Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, 919-362-0586 for campground information. Quality Inn & Suites, Apex/Holly Springs, 919-446-6700; Comfort Inn Apex, 919-387-4600.
MAPS — GMCO 888-420-6277, www.gmcomaps.com; Fishing Hot Spots, 800-500-MAPS.
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