Photo: Capt. Gus holds a pair of Lake Norman spotted bass.

March kicks off the spring fishing season on Lake Norman and what a year it should be!

After a not so cold winter and an early season warm up, bass and other fish are already in shallow water. Fishermen have been catching them foe weeks and having lots of fun doing so.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who haven’t been fishing in a while, here are a few tips that might help add more fish to your stringer.

Bass will be shallow, very shallow, particularly during early mornings and late afternoons. While back coves will harbor lots of spawning bass, anglers shouldn’t overlook boat docks, boat ramps and laydowns (fallen trees). Best lures to use are shaky head worms rigged wacky style (worm hooked in the middle), jerk baits, swimbaits and Alabama rigs.

Those who target hybrid striped bass will find the best action in the lake’s hot holes and upriver between Highway 70 and Lookout Shoals Dam. Once again, fishing is best at dawn and dusk. Shad, herring and store bought minnows are the baits of choice, but the same lures used to take bass will work on hybrids. A word of caution, the farther upriver you go, the rockier and more hazardous it gets.

Spring is the best time of the year to catch crappie and fishermen know it. Depending on the water temperature, these schooling fish are found at depths of two or three feet to near thirty feet. Savvy anglers look for coves with lots of submerged brush, shorelines with laydowns, bridge pilings and docks that offer plenty of shade and cover.

As the water warms, catfish return to the shallows where they’re targeted by boat and bank fishermen alike. It’s a fact that catfish can smell better than they can see. That’s why the smellier the bait, the better. Shrimp, chicken and mussels laced with garlic powder or barbeque sauce make excellent attractants, as do fresh cut fish, cheese, and pizza crust. Anglers fishing multiple rods have the advantage over those who fish single rods, since the more baits in the water, the stronger the scent.

Going fishing is only part of the fun. Sometimes what people say and post on social media, or write about afterwards, adds even more to the enjoyment than the sport itself – like the son and dad fishing from the shoreline the other day. The boy catches a big bass and asks his dad, “What are we going to do with it?” The dad replied, “I don’t know. This has never happened before.”

To encourage people to buy more gear, a bait shop posted this notice at its entrance. “Fishermen never have enough rods, reels, tackle boxes and lures.” That’s probably why one angler was quoted as saying, “I spent most of my money on fishing. The rest I wasted.”

Tips from Capt. Gus:
Small minnows will not only tempt crappies, but are also great baits for white perch. Use a small hook and a light split shot weight.

Upcoming Events: 

Free Boating Safety Class: Capt. Gus will conduct a seminar on “How to Navigate Lake Norman” at Lake Norman Marina, 6965 Hwy 150, Sherrills Ford on March 8th from 6:30 until 8:00pm. Topics include: “Understanding LKN’s Channel Markers and buoy System”, “How to Avoid Shallow Water”, “Interpreting Lake Maps”, and “Dangerous Places”. Email to reserve your seats.

Free Fishing Seminar – “How to Rig Your Boat for Spring Fishing”. Jake Bussolini will conduct this ninety-minute session beginning at 6:30 p.m. on March 15th at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, in Mooresville, NC. For additional information, contact Jake at 704 201 8709.

Lake Norman’s water level is about 3.9’ below full pond. The surface water temperature is in the fifties and low sixties in water not affected by power generation.

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 website or call 704-617-6812.