Montgomery Says Dirty Water is Your Friend at Norman

Published on 03-07-2020

The Big Bass Tour will return to Lake Norman for the eleventh consecutive year, a little bit earlier than in times past, and under vastly different conditions. The lake’s normally crystalline waters – where visibility ranges from gin-clear at the dam to slightly stained up the lake – have been bombarded by endless rain this spring, and that has pushed the mud further down the lake than Andy Montgomery has ever seen it.

The veteran South Carolina pro would normally be skipping a jig under boat docks or throwing a swimbait around them in mid- to late-March, but conditions call for a different approach.

“Right now the lake is pretty dirty and off color,” he said. “We’ve had something like 47 inches of rain already this year. It’s muddier further down the lake than it’s ever been. If we don’t get any more rain, it can clear pretty fast, but if it stays the way it is I’d throw typical stuff for off-colored water – a big-bladed spinnerbait and a Strike King Thunder Cricket.”

The good news is that the dirty water has kept the fish biting and active. “The weights are way up, with lots of 20 pound bags being weighed in, and that has a lot to do with the muddy water,” he explained. That could change the dynamic of the BBT, where it typically takes a fish in the 5-pound range to make the top 10, and one in the 6-pound class to take top honors. Last year, a monstrous 7.34 pound lunker won the overall grand prize. Many of the lake’s biggest fish live in the far downlake reaches of Norman, where gin-clear water and long memories keep them wary, but with the influx of dirtier water they are increasingly susceptible to being caught.

Other areas he’d look would be up in the river and in the Mountain Creek section of the lake. Both regions are known for producing large numbers of bigger-than-average fish. He’d “pick an area,” drop the trolling motor and go to work.

Montgomery would expect his key tool to be a ½ ounce white and chartreuse Strike King Thunder Cricket, tipped with a white Strike King Blade Minnow, a combination that calls fish from afar but also makes them react at short range. He’d throw it on a Lew’s Hyper Mag baitcasting reel matched with a 7’3” Custom Pro Mag Hammer rod, and 20 pound test fluorocarbon.

“It can get really fun when the fish are living in that dirty water,” he concluded.

With the early start date, the unusual conditions, and the lake’s current level of high productivity, expect this to be a three-day event to remember….and possibly one where records will be broken.