Scarce cover makes for good fishing
Lake Norman News
Lake Norman News ~ News of University City
Friday, Feb. 22, 2013

Scarce cover makes for good fishing

Fishermen new to Lake Norman learn quickly that this massive impoundment is void of grasses, lily pads and other natural habitat common in other lakes. The lack of cover, combined with the vastness and open water, initially confuses and intimidates even the most experienced.

Knowing this, locals mainly fish the manmade cover of docks, piers, boathouses, channel/shoal marker poles, bridge pilings, rip-rap, launch ramps and partially submerged woody debris.

Regardless of its type, manmade or natural cover – or a combination of both – serves as a magnet for aquatic life. It’s a mini eco-system, so to speak, where forage fish seek food and safe harbor before eventually being eaten by predators. Additionally, good cover provides a resting place that protects fish from the sun, wind and water currents.

Sometimes less is better. On Lake Norman, there is a shortage of cover. For that reason, it is important to cast at even a single stick up, because it might hold multiple fish. Conversely, when larger patches of cover are fished, be sure to cast the area thoroughly, including pockets, points and any place that varies from the normal surroundings.

While there are days when fish hold very close to cover, there are other days when they might be a cast or more away. That is why fan casting the surrounding area before working the lure closer and tighter to the cover produces so many strikes. On sunny days, the fish usually hold tight, so don’t be afraid to cast into the middle of a brush pile, or skip cast a lure under a dock. Hanging up and losing a lure or two is part of the game.

Sight fishing is important when fishing cover. That is why polarized glasses should be worn. They cut the glare, and also allow anglers to better see what is below the surface. Not only can the angler see stumps, limbs, rocks and open patches, but they can actually see fish – particularly important this time of year, when bass are found on spawning beds.

Hot Spots of the Week

High water and murky conditions have crappie and bass moving to the banks. Reports of crappie and bass limits being taken in less than 3 feet of water are common. Others are still catching schooling bass, perch, stripers and hybrids under diving birds in water from 30 feet to 70 feet deep. Bass are also being caught on shallow and deep points while casting jerk and swim baits. Catfish, primarily 5- to 10-pound Arkansas blues, are hitting shad, herring, bream, perch and chicken parts fished very slowly along the bottom.

Upcoming Events

• The Lake Norman Sail & Power Squadron is conducting a Boater Safety Training class at 8 a.m. March 9 at the Huntersville United Methodist Church, 14005 Stumptown Road, Huntersville. The cost is $45. Registration is required: or call 704-895-4994.

• A Free Safe Boating Class on “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held 6:30-8 p.m. March 13 at Morning Star Marina @ Kings Point, Exit 28, Cornelius. Topics that include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” the “Ten Most Dangerous Spots,” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Becky Johnson at 704-892-7575.

Lake levels

The water level on Lake Norman is approximately 3.2 feet below full pond, while Mountain Island Lake is about 3.3 feet below full. The surface water temperature ranges from the high 40s to the mid-50s, depending on location and proximity to a power plant.

Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at

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