Lake Norman resident Luke Perrino with a hybrid striped bass.

Well, it’s that time of year again! Lake Norman area residents are beginning to prepare for a new boating and fishing season. While some put a lot of effort into getting ready for the first spring outing, others not so much.

The “not-so-muchers” might want to key in on a few things to help make your first spring trip safe and successful. Boat batteries should be charged and tested for proper voltage. Be sure that all safety equipment is functional, including life vests, fire extinguisher, horn and bilge pump. If you trailer the vessel, check the tires for wear and air pressure, and repack the wheel bearings. Top off the gas tank before launching, and don’t forget to install the drain plug!

Fishermen have their work cut out for them, with cleaning, lubricating and re-spooling multiple reels with new line, not to mention, reorganizing and sorting through tackle boxes to see what’s missing. Replace popular baits and terminal tackle that has “vanished” since last season.

Big fish have a way of swimming through weak spots in landing nets. It’s prudent to replace the webbing or buy a new net if the old one is tattered or torn. Finally, check the expiration date on your fishing license. A new license can be purchased online at Everyone 16 years or older must have a valid license.

May Fishing Forecast: Hybrid striped bass will be upriver between the railroad bridge and Lookout Shoals Dam and in the two hot water discharge canals. Catching them is easy with a top water lure while they’re surface feeding. Live baits work well if they’re suspended. Chicken livers and mussels are good for bottom feeders. If it’s bass you’re targeting, try the island area north of the State Park. Downriver anglers will find spotted bass almost anywhere in shallow water. In May, Davidson, Reed and Mountain Creeks are the likely hot spots below the Highway 150 Bridge.

Largemouth bass anglers like to cast a variety of hard and soft artificial lures toward the shoreline and around boat docks where fish will be eagerly waiting to strike. Spotted bass will concentrate around rocky points, rip-rap and underwater humps. While hunting feeder fish, spots bunch up much the same as hybrids. Note: the daily creel limit for black bass is five per person, with three fish over fourteen inches long.

As May nears the end, fish will move toward their deep water summer haunts. That’s when deep diving crank baits, jigging spoons and live minnows are the perfect baits for catching all types of fish.

May is also the beginning of the summer season for white perch. They swim in large schools and are easy to locate with a fish finder. If you don’t have one, simply drift until they begin to bite. During the day, white perch settle over humps, points and brush piles at depths to thirty-five feet. At night, they migrate to the shallows near lighted docks and piers. They can be caught on worms, threadfin shad and small minnows. Because of their aggressive nature, they will also attack small spoons, crappie jigs and spinners.

May Events
“How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” is a free safe boating class to be held at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd. in Cornelius , NC on May 10th beginning at 6:30 p.m. Sgt. George Brinzey, Becky Johnson and I will cover topics that include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System”, “How to Avoid Shallow Water”,” The Ten Most Dangerous Spots”, “Interpreting Lake Maps” and “Safe Boating Law Enforcement Tips.” For more information, call: 704-892-7575.

Free Fishing Seminar – “Techniques for Spring Fishing on Lake Norman”- Jake Bussolini will conduct this ninety minute seminar beginning at 6:30 p.m. on May 17th at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville, NC. For additional information, contact Jake at 704-201-8709.

Lake Norman’s water level is almost at flood stage. The surface water temperature is in the 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 at or call 704-617-6812.