Photo: Capt. Gus holds a winter Lake Norman bass.

While it might be chilly on Lake Norman in March, fishing can be fabulous. So, why wait for spring? You could be missing out on some of the best fishing of the New Year!

A die-hard striper fisherman once said, “The worse the weather; the better the fishing.” That’s why a select, but hardy group, dreams of days when the barometric pressure is low, air temperatures are in the thirties, and wind driven sleet and snow pelt the water. If its miserable weather the fish and fishermen want, the first week of March is usually prime time, especially since hybrids are now being stocked in Lake Norman.

One thing bass and hybrid striped bass fishermen have in common this time of year, is that they both keep a watchful eye out for low flying and diving sea birds. When terns and gulls are dipping baitfish off the water’s surface, hungry schools of bass and/or hybrids are more than likely present.

Both largemouth and spotted bass will be in pre-spawn mode early in the month, so look for them in cove openings and along the edges of river and creek flats. As the water warms, they will make their way to the shallows and begin the bedding process.

Others, who brave the cool weather of March, can enjoy the simplicity of “pole fishing” for crappies. Small jigs or minnows suspended near brush, bridge pilings and in channels, make good baits for this feisty pan fish. They are not only easily tempted into biting and fun to catch, but make excellent table fare. Arguably, white perch are the children’s favorite because they can often be caught two, three and four at a time when jigging Sabiki Rigs.

If it’s the really big fish you’re after in March, give catfishing a try. Lake Norman is known for its monster size Arkansas Blue Catfish. The biggest ever from Lake Norman was an eighty-five pounder. It held the state record, until it was topped by an eighty-nine-pounder taken from Badin Lake in 2006. The best baits for super-size blue cats are fresh cut strips of perch and bream, whole gizzard shad and chunks of chicken breast laced with garlic. To catch big cats, use heavier than normal gear. A minimum of thirty-pound tackle, with fifty-pound test leader material and 5/0 or larger circle hooks are needed.

Tips from Capt. Gus:

A thin coating of lithium grease on the shaft of your electric trolling motor will prevent it from freezing on cold mornings.

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.