Photo of Capt. Gus holding a trophy bass

It’s been a long winter, but thank goodness, indications of spring are everywhere. To mention a few – osprey and blue heron are building nests, weeping willow trees are turning green and the cherry trees are blooming. Better yet, warming water temperatures have fish jumping and moving to the shallows.

The winter thaw beginning in mid-February did not go unnoticed by Lake Norman’s bass population or its fishermen. Spotted and largemouth bass quickly moved to the shallows and will stay there until the annual spawn is over in April or May.

Spring is big bass season, a time cherished by both the occasional angler and the pro. Why? Because everyone has a realistic shot at catching a big one, or at least bagging a five-fish limit. For the occasional angler, it’s easier to feed them (live bait) than it is to try to trick them with artificial lures.

The good thing about fishing for bass is that they are opportunistic feeders that attack anything that moves, smells, looks natural, or makes noise. They’re easy to tempt when actively feeding, but in the spring, they could be protecting the nest and will attack whatever they see as predators.

Lures can be divided into three groups: top water, swimming baits and bottom bumping jigs, and soft plastics. Top water lures are the most fun since the bass strikes on the surface and causes a visual commotion when trying to shake the lure. Swimming baits are used when fish are feeding somewhere below the surface. Most spring season bass are taken at depths of fifteen feet or less. Soft plastic lures, that look like worms, fish, and other critters are used when bass are bottom feeding.

Crappie too are sought after in the spring because they, too, can be caught in shallow water. It’s not so much the fight that attracts anglers, as is their flavor at the table. Besides, they are so easy to catch that many anglers use cane poles instead of spinning rods. More than one pole can be used at a time if the boat is equipped with rod holders. Most cane pole users prefer crappie minnows fished below a small float, while spin casters typically use colorful lead-head jigs with plastic bodies.

Anglers who wish to fish from the shoreline will find that the Lake Norman State Park – 759 State Park Rd, Troutman, NC (704 528 6350) has lots of accessible shoreline and a long fishing pier. Give it a try.

Tips from Capt. Gus:

During March, fish are seeking the warmest shallow water in the area. Sunny banks, coves with a southern exposure to the sun and waters affected by power generation are good places to try.

Upcoming Events:

Free fishing seminar – Free Fishing Seminar – “How Sound Effects Fish Behavior” – Jake Bussolini will conduct this ninety-minute session beginning at 6:30 p.m. on March 8th at The Lake Norman Volunteer Fire Department, 1518 Brawley School Rd, Mooresville, NC 28117. For additional information, call 704-658-0822.

Lake Norman’s water level is about 2.8’ below full pond. The surface water temperature is in the high fifties and low 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.