Photo of Capt Gus holding a summer bass
Lake Norman Fishing Forecast – July 2018
Fishin’ With Capt. Gus!
Lake Norman Fishing Forecast
July 1, 2018
Due to the bright summer sun and high-water temperatures, most fish seek solace in deep holes and heavy cover during July. Largemouth and spotted bass fishing will be best at sunrise and after dark. The same is true for hybrid striped bass and crappie. On the other hand, bream (sunfish) are the fish of summer and relish sunny banks. They bite all day and are easily caught on worms, crickets and bread balls. Another pan fish, the white perch, bites both day and night. White perch can be found near deep brush in the daytime and around lighted docks after sunset.
Summer hybrids, bass and catfish, will be suspended near the thermocline during the heat of the day. The thermocline is where warm surface water meets the cooler lake bottom water and typically forms forty to fifty feet below the surface. Fishing below the thermocline is fruitless, since there is not enough dissolved oxygen to support fish life.
Several techniques are used by anglers who fish the thermocline. The easiest method is to drop a live bait on a weighted line below the boat. A second approach is to lower a shiny spoon to the depth of the thermocline, and slowly jig it up and down. Both methods are quite effective in schools below the boat. A third method is to troll with lead core line or downriggers.
With a downrigger, the fishing line and lure is attached to a weighted cable and suspended to the desired depth below the boat. When a strike occurs, the line breaks free so the fish can be fought without the negative effects of the weight or cable. Other less expensive methods are to use weighted line (lead core), or to fish with metal or plastic down planners.
Bass anglers will find their quarry hitting top water baits on shallow points at sunrise or around lighted docks after dark. Buzz baits and top water propeller lures will attract attention during these low light hours. As the sun rises, bass move to deep cover or to the edges of steep drop offs where a variety of swimming and bottom bumping baits are effective.
Surprisingly, the hot water discharge canal at the nuclear station near Ramsey Creek, holds a lot of bass in the summer. The faster the water moves, the more active the fish will be. Since the forage fish are quite small, the key to catching “hot-hole” bass is to down size baits and tackle. A shiny, lightly weighted bait fished quickly, will often tempt a leery largemouth or spotted bass. Perch, catfish and bantam weight hybrids also take harbor in the discharge waters this time of year.
Family groups enjoy targeting catfish and carp while fishing from one of thousands of boat docks on Lake Norman. Bottom rigs, hooked with stink baits, minnows or chicken livers, will tempt catfish. Bread dough and kernels of corn will lure carp. When the big summer fish hits, hold on and enjoy the fight!
Tips from Capt. Gus: Wide gap hooks and at least thirty-pound test line are needed to land Lake Norman’s trophy catfish. July is a prime time to catch a big flathead or blue. Expect to find them near feeding schools of white perch.
The lake level is 2.0 feet below full pond and the lake water surface temperature is in the high eighties and low 90’s.
Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an Outdoor Columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC.