Spring is Here

Time and tide wait for no man and neither does the spring spawning season. In fact, it has already begun, with white perch and crappie moving toward the shallows. Largemouth bass, spots and hybrids are also preparing for their annual spring ritual by eating everything in sight. With that in mind, don’t let cool temperatures deter the beginning of the new fishing season. Gather up your tackle, dress warmly and go fishing. They are definitely biting!

To help kick off the 2021 season, here are a few tips concerning water temperature, baits and presentation. Hopefully, this info will increase the number and size of the fish in your live well or clipped to your stringer:

Water Temperature:

    • A degree or two can make a difference in whether or not you catch fish.
    • Coves with a southern exposure (facing the sun) warm first.
    • Water temperatures surrounding docks with black floatation (for buoyancy) are usually a few degrees warmer than those constructed with Styrofoam.
    • Water near power plant hot water discharge channels is warmer than other areas on Piedmont lakes.
    • Muddy water warms faster than clear water.
    • Water over boat ramps and rip-rap banks is normally a degree or two warmer than the surrounding waters.

Baits – Live or Artificial?

    • Early spring crappie and perch prefer small minnows over jigs.
    • soft plastics, jerk, and crank baits are popular for shallow water bass fishing. When fishing offshore, bucktail jigs, spoons, drop-shots and shaky heads work best when moved slowly.
    • Small shiners, shad or herring work best for hybrids. Surprisingly, most lures used by bass anglers work equally as well when trolling or casting for hybrids.
    • Catfish eat everything. Stink baits, worms and table scraps tempt lots of small cats, while fresh cut herring, shad, perch, bream and chicken parts lure big blues.


    • When water temperatures are fifty or so degrees, or the water is muddy, slow the retrieve to give the fish time to see and react to the bait.
    • Make multiple casts to the same target.
    • Use baits that appeal to as many of the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste) as practical.
    • Live bait appeals to all five senses, while spinner and crank baits generally appeal to sight and sound. Cast to surface feeding fish with spoons, poppers, jerk baits and flukes.
    • When all else fails, downsize baits. Since most lake fish do not have teeth, they must swallow the bait whole. Both big and small fish can inhale little baits, but only the largest can swallow a big one.


    • The key to staying warm when fishing cold Piedmont Lakes is simple. Protect the head, hands and feet, while layering the arms, body and legs. The final outer layer of clothing should be an insulated suit, parka & bibs or some type of heavy-duty outerwear designed to repel cold, rain and wind.

Tips from Capt. Gus:

To entice a variety of fish during the early spring, retrieve artificial baits slowly in water less than ten feet

Hot Spots:

Look for bass on flats, in coves and pockets where they are staging to spawn. Best bets are Ramsey and McCrary Creeks. Crappie and white perch will take small minnows, jigs and Sabiki Rigs dropped around brush and fish attractors. Hybrid fishing is fair to good at the “hot holes” and North of the 150 Bridge.  
The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the high forties and low fifties in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 3.4′ below full pond on Lake Norman and 1.5′ below full pond on Mountain Island Lake on 2/28/21.

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 www.FishingWithGus.com or call 704-617-6812.