Historically, the second and third weeks of May, when all fishing conditions are right, are gangbusters for Lake Norman anglers. What could be better than nice weather, fish jumping on the surface and rods bent double with stripers, bass and catfish?
Fish will stay in the shallows throughout the month. Some larger stripers will be upriver between the railroad bridge and the Lookout Shoals Dam. Moving water energizes river fish and makes them easy to catch. Lures, live drifting baits or bottom-bumping cut baits are good bets. On most days, major feeding periods coincide with sunrise and sunset.
Downriver, Lake Norman anglers will find fish almost anywhere in shallow water. Fishermen on Reed and Mountain creeks will see some of the best action. The island area north of the State Park is also a good place to fish, if you choose to stay north of the N.C. 150 bridge.
As June approaches, fish will move farther from the bank and toward deeper water. Live baits should be pulled slowly behind a drifting boat or one maneuvered by an electric trolling motor. Daily limits of 20- to 23-inch striped bass will be common.
Bass anglers like to cast a variety of hard and soft artificial lures toward the bank where largemouth and spotted bass will be eagerly waiting to attack. Spotted bass will concentrate around rocky points, riprap and underwater humps. They bunch up, as do stripers, to hunt feeder fish in schools.
Crappie fishermen can find excellent results this month around docks and brush piles. Small jigs and minnows will attract stringers of fish. As a reminder, the daily creel limit is 20 crappie (8 inches or longer) per angler.
Cat fishing is becoming increasingly popular with Lake Norman anglers. Catfish move freely up and down river and creek channels as water temperatures, food supply and spawning urges dictate.
During the spring spawn, catfish are typically found in very shallow water. Post-spawn fish tend to remain in shallow to medium depths. As the lake water warms, they move deeper. Find a school of white perch, and flathead cats should be near by. Flatheads stalk schools of perch in hopes of snatching an unsuspecting stray or a wounded baitfish they may have missed.
White perch are fun and easy to catch. Their tasty white meat makes excellent table fare. Perch swim in large schools and are easy to locate with a fish finder. If you don't have one, simply drift until they begin to bite.
During the day, perch settle over humps, points and brush piles at depths to 35 feet. At night, they migrate to the shallows near lighted docks and piers. They can be caught on worms, threadfin shad and small minnows. Because of their aggressive nature, they will also attack artificial lures. Small spoons, crappie jigs and spinners will produce strikes.
Fishing is good to excellent for bass, stripers, crappie and perch. Choose your favorite fishing hole and cast your favorite lure. Best bets are north of N.C. 150 for bass and stripers, Mountain Creek for crappie and Reed Creek for white perch and spotted bass.