Photo of Lake Norman area resident C. J. Cotterman holding a trophy bass caught while bedding  

The spring spawning season is in full swing and the time to catch big bass is now. Because of unseasonably warm weather “nesting season” came early this year.

The good thing about fishing for bedding bass is that the only special equipment you need is a pair of polarized sunglasses and an electric trolling motor. The glasses reduce the glare and allow you to see the spawning beds, and the trolling motor allows you to quietly approach the beds. Since much of the bedding activity occurs in water less than five feet deep, fish are not difficult to locate. Just look for circle-like patches from one to three feet in diameter. It’s much easier to see the beds/nests with the sun at your back, but the shadows cast by the boat and of those on board, will spook the bass from the beds. It’s more practical to search them while facing the sun.

Once an area is located, position the boat as far away as possible and cast a tube bait, trick-worm or other soft bait into the bed. If the male bass sees it first, he will attack it vigorously. The female is less aggressive, and it often takes multiple casts to tempt her into mouthing the lure. Since the female is the larger of the two, the time it takes to get the bite is time well spent.

April is everyone’s month of choice to search the shorelines for bass beds/nests. Remember that not all bass are on the beds at the same time. Some have already spawned in March, and others are preparing to spawn later. With that in mind, there are plenty of fish for anglers who wish to cast around docks, points, and a variety of submerged cover. Better yet, April is a prime month to troll diving lures along the shoreline, with the majority of strikes occurring in water less than fifteen-feet deep.

Lake Norman has both spotted and largemouth bass. As a rule, spotted bass are smaller than largemouth.  Most are twelve to sixteen inches in length and weigh a pound or two, but there are larger ones out there.  Lake Norman yielded the state record to Eric Weir in December of 2003 when he landed a 6.5 pounder using a finesse worm.

The size and creel limit is the same for both largemouth and spotted bass. (Five black bass in combination – Example: two spotted bass and three largemouth bass), all of which must be fourteen inches in length. The exception is that two bass may be less than fourteen inches on Lake Norman.

Tips from Capt. Gus:

  • When using live minnows for bass, give the fish a few seconds to swallow the bait.
  • Since spotted bass feed in schools, expect to catch more than one per location.
  • Bass are easily tempted to strike noisy top water lures. Best bets are whopper plopper’s, buzz baits and Zara Spooks.
  • Bass are attracted to dock lights after dark.
  • Bring a camera. You might catch a lunker for your Facebook page!
  • “The early worm gets the fish.”  The best bite is usually during the first hour of daylight each morning.

Upcoming Events:
Free Safe Boating Class – “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd, Cornelius, NC at 6:30 p.m. on April 13th. Becky Johnson and I will cover “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System”, “How to Avoid Shallow Water”, “Ten Most Dangerous Spots”, and “Interpreting Lake Maps”. For more information, call Ashley at 704 892 7575.

Hot Spot of the Week:

Large bass are being caught on spawning beds and around dock lights after dark. Smaller bass are feeding on shad in back coves and pockets throughout the day. Crappies, many larger than normal, are around stick-ups and brush piles all over the lake. Some say that crappie fishing is the best it has been in years.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the sixties.  The water level is about 2.9′ below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.3’ Mountain Island Lake.

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an Outdoor Columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his web site, or call 704-617-6812. For additional information, e-mail him at