It has been a while since we have answered reader's questions. Here are a few of those most frequently asked:
Q. Why are there so many bass tournaments on Lake Norman?
There are two main reasons. First, bass fishing is the best it has been in decades. The introduction of spotted bass gives tournament anglers a second black bass to target. Until the spotted bass' introduction, Lake Norman had only largemouth bass.
Second, the promotional efforts of area hoteliers and restaurateurs, led by Visit Lake Norman (www.visitlakenorman.org) and the Mooresville Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.racecityusa.org), have brought a great deal of attention to the fishery.
Q. Which sport fish, other than bass, can I expect to catch?
Since there is no closed fishing season, stripers, catfish, crappie, white perch and sunfish can be caught year-round.
Q. Who needs a fishing license?
Anyone age 16 or older must have a state license to fish. An inland fishing license can be purchased online at www.ncwildlife.org or at area tackle shops and retail stores that sell fishing tackle.
Q. I heard about a striped bass kill this summer. Are there any stripers left?
Yes, there are still stripers in the lake, but not nearly as many as before. About 7,000 adult fish floated to the surface in July and August, and an undetermined number were eaten by catfish and other scavengers. That incident, combined with two others in recent years, has resulted in a devastating loss to one of the lake's most popular game fish.
Q. Is Lake Norman's water level lower than normal?
Yes. A few days ago, the lake level was 95.6 feet, or 4.4 feet below full pond. The lack of summer rain is responsible for the low water levels.
Q. What is "full pond"?
When Lake Norman is at full pond, the water level is 760 feet above sea level and is stated at 100.0 feet in area newspapers. Again, a lake level of 95.6 feet means the lake is 4.4 feet below full pond.
Q. I see boats really going fast. Is there a speed limit?
Lake Norman doesn't have a speed limit in open water. There are "No Wake" zones, however, within 50 yards of any bridge or other manmade structure, meaning a boat must slow down enough that it doesn't create a wake. Certain areas also are designated by the Lake Norman Marine Commission and N.C. Wildlife as "No Wake" zones. They are identified by "No Wake" buoys.
Q. How big are the fish?
Most range in size from 6 to 25 inches and weigh up to 5 or 6 pounds.
The biggest in the lake are catfish. Several years ago, an 85-pound blue catfish was caught in Lake Norman. Some people believe a 100-pounder lurks for some lucky angler.
Q. I haven't seen many sea birds all summer. Where are they?
Thousands of gulls and terns winter on Norman and other area lakes. They arrive by mid-November and return to the coast in spring to nest. Diving sea birds alert anglers to bass and stripers as they chase baitfish to the surface.
White perch are the most plentiful fish in Lake Norman. Bass are the most sought-after, crappie are (arguably) the best table fare.
A free fishing seminar, "Winter Catfishing: How to Catch Big Cats on Cold Days," will be 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 25 at Gander Mountain, Interstate 77 Exit 36, Mooresville. Leaders are Mac Byrum, the lake's most popular catfish guide, and Jake Bussolini, local author of several fishing books. Details: 704-658-0822.