Spring expected to yield great fishing
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Saturday, Mar. 08, 2014

Spring expected to yield great fishing

When fish are shallow, they’re easier to catch. And that is where they will be for the next few months, so break out your shallow running plugs, top-water lures and floating worms and enjoy what is expected to be a great spring fishing season.

Below are some tips that may improve your catch, for several different types of fish you may target.

Bass

• Casting or trolling the Alabama Rig has become one of the most productive methods for catching bass in recent years.

• Look for spawning bass during full and new moons from March through May.

• While artificial lures catch the majority of bass, live minnows and shad, herring and small pan fish can be quite productive.

• The daily creel limit is a combination of five largemouth or spotted bass that measure 14 inches or larger.

Crappie

• Light spinning tackle (4- to 6-pound-test line) and a 1/32- to 1/8-ounce jig fished around woody debris will produce limits in the spring.

• Crappies spawn near submerged hardwoods, such as Christmas trees, bamboo and brush piles. Many submerged brush piles have been planted by fishermen.

• When fishing is slow, tip the jig with a small minnow.

• The daily creel limit is 20 crappies of 8 inches or longer per person.

White perch

• Perch spend the spring in shallow water spawning and eating the eggs and fry of other species.

• Best baits to use are 1/8- to 1/4-ounce spoons, jigs, Roadrunners and Rooster Tails.

• Popular colors are white, silver and chartreuse.

• There is no size or daily creel limit for white perch. Keep all you want, and enjoy their tasty flavor when fried.

Catfish

• Best baits:

Channel cats – Prepared stinkbaits, chicken livers, table scraps.

Arkansas blue catfish – Fresh cut bream, perch, shad, herring and chicken breasts.

Flathead catfish – Live shad, herring, bream and perch.

• The whiskers (barbells) around a catfish’s mouth do not sting. It’s the barbs at the end of the dorsal and pectoral fins that inflict pain and poison.

• Catfish do not have a size or daily creel limit, with one exception. On Lake Norman and Badin lakes, only one blue catfish greater than 32 inches is allowed per day.

General

• Purchase or renew fishing license online at www.ncwildlife.org.

• Fish length is determined by measuring along a straight line, the distance between the tip of the closed mouth to the tip of the compressed tail fin.

• Re-spool reels with quality line.

• Replenish terminal tackle lost last season.

• Check and fill fluid levels in boat batteries. Replace batteries if more than two years old.

• Replace water filter on boat’s gas line.

March events

“How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night”: A free safe-boating class at 6:30 p.m. March 12 at Morning Star Marina at Kings Point, Exit 28, Cornelius. Becky Johnson and I will cover topics that include “Understanding Lake Norman’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “The 10 Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley at 704-892-7575.

Free fishing seminar: “Introduction to Sonar, Down Scan and GPS – “How to Use Electronics to Catch Bass, White Perch, Crappie and Catfish on Lake Norman.” Jake Bussolini and I will conduct this 90-minute seminar 6:30 p.m. March 19 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. 704-658-0822.

Tip from Capt. Gus

Be on the lookout for surface swirls in back coves. More than likely, they indicate that bass are chasing bait fish to the top.

Hot spots of the month

Bass fishing is excellent in Ramsey and McCrary creeks where water is warm enough to begin the spring spawn. Pre-spawn bass are being caught on A-Rigs, while staging in the mouths of pockets and coves.

Crappies are hitting jigs and minnows around bridge pilings, docks, stumps and woody debris. White perch are transitioning from deep to shallow water; many are still being caught under diving seabirds.

Water levels

Lake Norman’s water level is about 2.8 feet below full pond. Mountain Island Lake is at 2.2 feet below full. Surface water temperatures are in the 40s and 40s in water not affected by the power generation on Lake Norman.

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

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