Typically the bass spawn on Lake Wylie is at its peak during April, but this is no ordinary year. Whereas it is normal to get several warm days in March, or even 4 or 5 warm days, it is highly unusual to get a couple of straight weeks where temperatures are in the 70s and overnight lows stay in the 50s. Even though the full moon is not coming up until later in March, FLW Tour Pro Matt Arey believes that in the next 4-7 days there will probably be heavy spawning activity on Lake Wylie. While moon phase is a factor, long days of warm, sunny conditions that rapidly raise water temperatures will bring on the spawn even in the absence of a full moon.
On Lake Wylie the late winter bite often bleeds into the pre-spawn bite and in this period anglers catch fish on Shad Raps, Speed Traps, Chatterbaits, Alabama rigs and jerkbaits. Matt suspects that this year fish could almost skip this pre-spawn stage, and instead move straight to the banks.
Matt points out that things are happening so fast this year that the conditions that exist on the water now could be outdated by the time anglers get to the lake, but if he were heading to the lake in the next few days he knows what he would do. Matt says he would head to the clearest water he could find and spend a lot of time looking to see what stage fish are in. Fish may just be in the shallows cruising, and they could have already moved onto the beds.
If fish are up shallow cruising then Matt’s go-to bait is a worm rigged wacky-style in natural colors such as green pumpkin. He likes the Lunkerhunt Lunker Stick fished weightless around the bank, and with a nail-weight if he is skipping it under docks. For fish that are actually spawning Matt likes a 4 ½ inch swimbait such as the Swim Bento. He finds that he catches a lot of fish on the swimbait during this period, but he also sees a lot that follow but don’t take it which he can throw back to. With stained conditions Matt also expects a lot of fish to be caught on a jig.
Finally, Matt notes that anglers may not think of it during the pre-spawn but topwater lures certainly have their place. Once water temperatures hit 57-58, but particularly once they hit 60, a buzzbait can be an excellent way to catch some good ones. It may not catch huge numbers of fish but it can be a great way to catch the right tournament fish, and Lake Wylie bass tournaments have definitely been won on it during this period.