Bill Manning with a pair of fat largemouth caught on North Carolina’s Jordan Lake, one of the Raleigh-area lakes that will host Stage Three of the Bass Pro Tour. Photo courtesy Marty Stone
By Dave Landahl - March 11, 2019
RALEIGH, N.C. – Stage Three of the inaugural MLF Bass Pro Tour season has the potential to be a doozy.
MLF NOW! live stream analyst Marty Stone lives within 90 minutes of the three lakes near Raleigh, North Carolina that the pros will be fishing come March 26-31 for the Favorite Fishing Stage Three presented by Evinrude: Falls Lake, Jordan Lake, and Shearon Harris Reservoir.
Stone, who knows all three fisheries well, shared a few interesting facts about Falls and Jordan, which will host the Shotgun and Elimination Rounds of the competition.
Big Fish Swim in these Lakes
As he expressed previously when the Raleigh event site was announced, Stone expects both Falls and Jordan to produce big fish.
“Two records I expect to be broken at Stage Three are big fish, and highest weight on average per fish,” Stone says. “We’re coming to them at the prime time for quality fish. Don’t be surprised to see a double-digit bass caught out of one of them.”
When Stone talks double digits, he’s not talking about a mere 10-pounder; oh no, he’s talking possible behemoths.
“Years ago, local anglers Dennis Reedy and Phil Cable were fishing riprap along a road crossing during a tournament on Jordan,” Stone says. “Reedy was throwing a spinnerbait and broke it off, so Cable casts in there and hooks and lands a 14-pound 6-ounce bass. Just huge! Now I’m not saying that (a 14-pounder) is gonna happen while we’re there, but there are plenty of 5-to 8-pound bass in these lakes, and one that big is out there for sure.”
Both Lakes Have “Southern” Flavors
Jordan is the larger of the two fisheries at approximately 13,900 acres, while Falls covers around 12,400 acres. Both are river reservoirs: Falls is formed by the damming of the Neuse River, Jordan by the damming of the Haw-Cape Fear river drainage.
“Both have rivers, but the river on Falls is more important as far as where anglers will be fishing,” Stone says. “Above the I-85 bridge on Falls, it can get real shallow and you can get stuck, but if there are fish up there, they can be big. It’s not finesse fishing, it’s big baits for big fish.”
In breaking down the cover on both fisheries, Stone describes both as having typical “Southern” cover without grass.
“(Both lakes have) lots of standing timber, creek channels, and rock, both natural and manmade,” Stone advises. “When the water is up, a great place to find fish is in up in the brush. Neither of the lakes has development, so they aren’t big dock-fishing lakes at all. I’d also say that these smaller lakes are the perfect non-grass lakes. The only grass is the bank grass that can come into play if the water is up.
Don’t Expect Big Numbers of Fish
As far as the Bass Pro Tour anglers running through large numbers of bass, Stone doesn’t believe the fish counts will be high on either Falls or Jordan, but the average size can be.
“The fish populations on Falls and Jordan are not huge,” Stone confirms. “I’d say that anywhere from nine to 15 fish per day will be the average. Most of the bass will run from 2 ¼ to 6 pounds, and we should see several 7- to 8-pounders. I stopped for a couple of days at Falls and I caught 25 pounds for my best 5 fish, and I’m not good anymore. These are pure Northern-strain largemouth, and they grow big here.”
Basic Techniques, “Moody” Fisheries
As far as techniques, most Raleigh-area locals stick with the basics on these two bodies of water: Shallow-diving crankbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, and soft plastics are the usual suspects for pre-spawn fishing. One more thing Stone points out about Falls and Jordan: they can be moody, usually both at the same time.
“Keep in mind, these lakes are relatively small compared to what most of these guys typically fish professionally,” Stone says. “If their ‘personality’ is bad in one area, it’s usually that way throughout the entire lake. But this time of the year should be ideal for catching bass.”