Great Catch

The fish are biting and this local guide knows where.

Joel Munday, owner of Outdoor Expeditions USA, instructs anglers of all ages and skill levels on guided fishing trips to southern wake county’s favorite lakes.

The sky over Jordan Lake is brilliant blue, and the sun is shining. We’re lucky on this early spring day, because it has been a wet, wet year so far. Our boat captain Joel Munday points out the brush and debris lining the banks of the lake some 10 feet above the current water level, evidence of the enormously high surge after last fall’s hurricanes.

Know Your Lakes

Shearon Harris Lake:
Surface area: 4,100 acres
Length of shoreline: 40 miles
Surface elevation: 220 ft
Average depth: 18 ft
Maximum depth: 58 ft

Jordan Lake:
Surface area: 13,940 acres
Length of shoreline: 180 miles
Surface elevation: 216 ft
Average depth: 14 ft
Maximum depth: 38 ft

Falls Lake:
Surface area: 12,410 acres
Length of shoreline: 175 miles
Surface elevation: 250 ft
Average depth: 16 ft
Maximum depth: 52 ft

Munday knows this lake like it’s an old friend, understanding what’s visible above the surface, but also what’s hidden below. Munday is a professional fishing guide and has been leading clients to fishing paydirt on Jordan, Shearon Harris, and Falls lakes since the 1990s.

We’re on his bass boat today, a Triton XS Elite, one of two watercraft Munday uses for chartered trips. Munday leans over with his ipad, showing me pictures of the lake on a much different day, when water levels were low, exposing underwater rock piles and clusters of downed branches that serve as luxury hotels for largemouth bass — today’s quarry.

Munday uses the images to explain to clients how and where to sink their bait. “It enables you to make precise casts efficiently,” he says. Munday has geotagged these underwater destinations, so his onboard navigation system can quickly steer to the best spots time and again.

Munday hails from Statesville and recalls early memories of catfishing with his dad on the banks of the South Yadkin River. In his late teens and early 20s, Munday began to focus on his guide service, first as a side gig then as a full-time profession, founding his company Outdoor Expeditions USA.

“Folks call on me when they are looking to spend a few hours on the water or learn advanced fishing techniques,” Munday says. He coaches experienced anglers on safe navigation, lake topography, tournament preparation and, of course, reeling in that prized largemouth bass.

“On the bass-specific trips, we use lures only. I take a maximum of two people on a high performance, tournament-ready bass boat. We focus on casting accuracy. It can be very technical and requires a lot of movement,” says Munday.

Outdoor Expeditions USA charters trips for bass fishing on Munday’s tournament-ready bass boat, seen here, or live-bait fishing for up to six people on a pontoon boat.

In recent years, Munday has added family and group fishing trips to his docket of services.

“It’s great for people of all ages and experience levels, from really young to older folks as well,” he says. On these excursions a pontoon boat carries up to six people for live bait fishing, targeting white perch, crappie and catfish, in addition to largemouth bass.

“An average trip can vary anywhere from 20 (fish caught) to upwards of 100 if they are biting well,” Munday says. “If you get around a school … and stay on top of them, which is what I try to do, you can really work on them.”

A guide since the ’90s, Munday is equally at home on all three area lakes: Harris, Jordan and Falls.

Local angler Jason Langdon discovered Munday’s guide service in 2013, and has been fishing consistently with him over the last three years.

Most Common Catches

  • White perch
  • Crappie
  • Catfish
  • Largemouth bass

“I consider myself a decent fisherman,” says Langdon, who has fished NC’s fresh and brackish water since childhood. “But I wasn’t consistently catching big fish like I knew that someone who had been fishing long enough should have.”

“(Munday) explains things in a way that you can understand,” says Langdon. “If you start doing something wrong, he will let you know about it. He’s an encyclopaedia of knowledge.”

Now Landgon regularly catches 1.5 to 4 pound bass in plentiful numbers.

“If you want to learn how to fish like a professional, like they do on TV, you listen to professionals like Joel,” he says.

Another benefit of guided fishing is convenience, Langdon says.

“You can park your car, and then you are catching fish within 30 minutes. He’s got every single thing you need. You don’t have to buy a fishing rod, lures … anything.”

Fishing equipment — rods, reels, bait and lures, for example — is all provided, but a valid fishing license is required.

Technology is another critical asset that Munday provides. His bass boat is equipped with a remote control GPS trolling motor system. He can be onboard demonstrating a cast, while simultaneously fine-tuning the boat’s position by remote control.

With a remote-controlled motor, Munday steers local fishing enthusiast will white toward the bank on Jordan Lake.

Munday also utilizes a Lowrance HDS fishfinder system that combines sonar and navigation technologies to map the topography of the lakes underwater and pinpoint fish below the surface.

“He literally can drive over fish and tell you what kind it is,” says Langdon.

Three hours of guided fishing on Shearon Harris Lake starts around $225 for 2 people, and prices vary according to the length of time, number of anglers, desired lake and bait of choice. A valid fishing license is required.

Despite extensive knowledge and experience, Munday is relaxed and friendly on the water, with no air of superiority.

“In this business I get to meet all kinds of people with all kinds of fishing skills. I love to meet these young folks that are just getting into fishing and to see how excited they get when they hook up a fish,” he says.

“We are very fortunate that these are the three best bass fishing lakes in the state right here at our doorstep.”

Outdoor Expeditions USA, LLC
11588 NC Highway 42, Holly Springs
(919) 669-2959

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