Photo: Capt. Gus holds a summer flathead catfish

Bass, perch, and catfish continue to be the mainstays for Lake Norman’s fishermen. Those who catch the limit regularly, use the deep and dark approach this time of year.

Since most people prefer to fish during daylight hours, the best way to catch bass is to skip cast soft plastics in the shade and darkness of cool water found near docks, piers and boathouses.  But, not everyone aims for trophy bass along the shoreline. Some would rather fish for them in deep brush piles, over underwater islands and along the edges of deep river points. Deeper is better. Some of the nicest bass caught each summer come from the depths of the lake, where water temperatures are cooler. Large bass also feast on the deep swimming herring being chased by white perch. Bass usually swim just below or to the side of feeding schools of perch and can be tempted into striking bucktails, jigging spoons and suspended live baits.

Some anglers believe that catfish bite only at night. They are nocturnal feeders, but in summer, they are so active that they must feed day and night to maintain their metabolism.

Savvy anglers fish in the same general areas during the day that they do at night, only deeper.  While some catfish are taken in very deep water, most are caught at depths from twenty to fifty feet.  Good summer catfish baits are worms, chicken parts, fresh cut perch/bream, live goldfish and a variety of prepared baits.

What about the perch? In June, the coolest water temperatures are in deep water, so that’s where forage fish go, particularly herring.  Since white perch eat year round, they follow the bait schools, regardless of water depth. The biggest ones will be in water to seventy feet during the late summer. The deeper they swim, the harder they are to find, so deep water anglers use GPS and sonar to track schooling perch.

Night fishing can be enhanced by using bright lights suspended in the water or positioned just above the surface. Lights are frequently used by anglers around bridge pilings, where crappie are drawn from the depths to feed on minnows and bugs attracted to the glow. Catfish, bass and hybrids are also attracted to nightlights, so be prepared with heavy tackle.

Tips from Capt. Gus:

When white perch are located, throw a marker to identify the spot. When they stop hitting, maneuver around the marker in larger circles until you find the school again. Throw another marker and enjoy the action!

Sunfish are easily attracted by tossing small pieces of bread into the water. “Chumming” also attracts white perch when small bits of chopped fish are pitched into the Lake.

Upcoming Events:

When perch fishing with a Sabiki jig, rather than reeling when you feel a bite, continue to move it a few times to entice fish to hit the other flies. When perch are feeding aggressively, the Sabiki will catch one to six fish on a single drop. When the action slows, add a piece of worm or cut bait.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the eighties in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is close to full pond on Lake Norman.

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.