Fishing was simple before Lake Norman was created in 1963.

Fishermen took turns sculling the boat. One hand worked the paddle, while the other held the rod. The angler on the bow had the first cast at every fishing spot. Rather than fight the paddle all day, it was easier to beach the boat and wade the shallow points, drift, or anchor in a likely spot. A cinder block was the most popular anchor. But, because of its rough surface, the anchor rope became chafed and would need to be replaced frequently. If the rope broke or came untied, the fishermen were back to sculling.

Everyone owned a cheap, hand-held compass. If the compass was not level, it gave incorrect headings. Even when level, its accuracy was questionable. If it was foggy or dark, fishing from the bank was the right thing to do.

About fifty years ago, spinning reels replaced bait casting reels in popularity. Spinners didn’t backlash and light lures could be cast for long distances. That is when the Mitchell 300 became so popular. Until then, Pflueger bait casting reels were used by both fresh and saltwater fishermen. Monofilament line was replaced by Dacron.

Fishing rod blanks were made from a solid piece of fiberglass. They were stiff and heavy, with little, if any, tip action. However, the rod would not break when stepped on or accidentally closed in a car door!

No one owned a VHF, (ship to shore radio), and cell phones were yet to come. Citizen band radios (CB’s) were the first means of boat-to-boat communication on area lakes. Bass fishermen were using them in the 1970’s. Conversations between fishermen in boats were interrupted on occasion by truckers traveling the nearby highways. The truck drivers wanted to know what was hitting, how big the fish were and where they were biting.

In those days, when a problem arose, no one would answer the CB. To get help, one had to hail a passing boat by waving both arms or by tying a shirt to a paddle and holding it upright.

Modern fishing conveniences like GPS, sonar and electric trolling motors have made today’s fishing easier. Reels have smoother drags and are tangle free. Rods are lightweight and sensitive to the lightest bite. Space age plastic tackle boxes don’t rust and outboard motors are larger, faster, more dependable, and start with a flip of a switch.

While times have changed and equipment has improved, one thing remains the same …….The fish are still biting!

November Lake Norman Fishing Forecast

Lake Norman anglers will experience some of the best fishing of the fall season, while finding cool daysr and clear skies to their liking. Cooler water temperatures will cause bass, crappie and hybrids to go on a feeding binge and that trend should continue into December.

Anglers looking for spotted bass should find plenty on the edges of channel points, where shaky-heads and Carolina rigged soft plastics will be the baits of choice. Those getting an early start should have a topwater lure rigged and ready to throw just in case a school of hungry spots chase baitfish to the surface. Those targeting largemouth will find the bigger ones under dredged docks and piers where they can be caught by skip-casting soft plastics. The larger fish seem to hold in the toughest places to cast, so hang-ups are inevitable. When they aren’t feeding around wooden structures give submerged brush piles and downed trees a try.

The hybrid striped bass that have been introduced in recent years are gaining quite a following, particularly now that some have grown to twenty inches of more. The easiest way to locate them is to watch the water for surface feeding activity. Then throw your favorite bass lure in their direction. Live bait and spoons and jigs fished vertically in the water column is also productive way to take them, but just isn’t as exciting as casting to breaking fish.

Crappies have always been a November favorite, particularly with those that enjoy eating their catch.. While submerged brush piles are the most popular places to catch “slab crappie”; boat houses, covered docks and bridges make a great second choice. Look for crappie in ten to twenty feed of water, and even shallower as water temperatures move into the fifties. As is the case each fall, crappie minnows are the bait of choice around submerged brush pies, while colorful jigs work best when pitched under docks.

Anglers that just want to enjoy a day’s fishing on the lake with no particular species in mind will catch a mixed bag by drifting live minnow and worms in any of Lake Norman’s many shallow coves. To be on the safe side, and just in case a big catfish or bass hits, bring a landing net to help flip your prize into the boat.


Tips from Gus:
Tip your Sabiki fly or jigging spoon with a small piece of white perch. The scent will attract larger perch, cats and bass.

See you out there!


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 at or call 704-617-6812.