Photo: Capt. Gus holds a trophy Permit caught on a recent fishing trip to Belize

July surface water temperatures will top 90 degrees on most days causing a thermocline to form at 50 feet below the surface. Bass, hybrids, catfish and white perch will suspend close to this fifty foot level were the warm meets cold water. That’s why anglers troll/drift in the river and deep creek channels for their targeted fish this month. Fishing any deeper can be counterproductive since the colder holds less dissolved oxygen and the fish are less active.

Bass can handle the heat pretty well as long as they can find shade or cover to protect them from the summer suns bright rays. Look for them along steep drops, under docks, around bridges and close to laydowns. Best bets are upriver were the water is murkier and there is more natural cover. Yearling bass aren’t as effected as much by the sun’s wrath and can found surface feeding throughout the day on river points where the can be taken on top water and crank baits.

Hybrid striped bass will locate in and along the drops associated with the river channel. Best bets are from marker thirteen north to marker twenty one. Most angler troll live bait, A-rigs, roadrunners and spoons to locate the feisty hybrid striped bass. Then switch to vertical fishing live baits, spoons and bucktails.

White Perch, “The Fish of Summer” will be plentiful in July. Most schools settle along the edges of the river and major creek channels. Like most summer fishing the best bite is early and after dark. Most productive depths are twenty to thirty feet. Live crappie minnows and Sabiki Rigs are the baits of choice. White perch make delicious table fare and are perfect for fish fries. Lake Norman has no size or creel limit on white perch.

Catfish are very active in July, Flat heads will locate under schools of white perch, while channel cats will hit stink baits day and night in back coves and around boat docks. Big blue cats can be anywhere but many will suspend along the thermocline in the river channel and near the Cowans Ford Dam.

Tips From Capt. Gus:

Before you hit the lake check to see if your fishing license is current. If not you go to: to renew or purchase for the first time.

See you out there!

Capt. Gus  

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.