Spring has finally arrived, and it’s time to go fishing. Get the dust off your rods and reels, the rust off your hooks and make a few practice casts on the lawn.
A little spring cleaning will assure a good start to the 2015 fishing season. Begin by rinsing your rods and reels with the garden hose. Wipe them dry and check for loose and broken guides.
Reels should be cleaned and lubricated and the line replaced if it’s more than six months old. Check the hooks on each lure and sharpen or replace those dull to the touch. Next, inventory your tackle box and make a list of the terminal tackle and lures you’ll need to buy or replace.
Inspect clothing, particularly rain gear and anything else that might need a water proofing spray. Trout fisherman should check waders for leaks and make appropriate repairs or replacement.
Before venturing off on your first trip of the year, be sure your fishing license is current. If not, the easiest way to renew is online at www.ncwildlife.org. In addition, review the 2014-15 North Carolina Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest. Hard copies of the booklet are available at most tackle outlets, or it can be reviewed online at the above-mentioned website.
A quick call to a fellow angler or tackle shop might give you a better idea where to begin fishing and which baits to use. If all else fails, consider these tips for your first April fishing trip:
▪ Fish the warmest water you can find.
▪ Fish slowly. The water is still cool, even in late April.
▪ When in doubt, fish shallow.
▪ Soft plastics bumped along the bottom and shallow-running crank baits cast around docks are good choices.
▪ When fish ignore artificial lures, try live minnows or worms. Sometimes it’s easier to feed them than it is to trick them.
▪ Best colors to use are silver, gray, black, blue and green. A favorite with locals is chartreuse.
▪ On days when fish are hard to catch, downsize the lures and slow the retrieve.
▪ Best time to fish is at sunrise and again at sunset.
Hot Spots of the Week
Ramsey Creek is still seeing a lot of bedding activity, while anglers fishing Reed and Davidson creeks are catching bass around docks and points. Schooling bass are breaking the surface at dawn in boat basins and around bridges. Crappie fishing has improved recently with the majority of fish coming from shallow water. Best baits are small minnows. Striper, hybrid and white perch fishing is slow. Catfish are hitting cut bait and chicken parts near the hot-water discharge canals.
▪ Corey Oakley, inland fisheries piedmont research coordinator for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, will discuss the changes in Lake Norman’s fish population leading up to the introduction of hybrid striped bass. He will speak from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 15 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. For more information, call 704-658-0822.
▪ “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd., Cornelius, 6:30 p.m. April 23. Becky Johnson and I will cover Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System, How to Avoid Shallow Water, 10 Most Dangerous Spots and Interpreting Lake Maps. For information, call Ashley at 704-892-7575.
Water levels are about 2.4 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.7 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake. The surface-water temperature is in the 60s in water not affected by power generation on Lake Norman.
Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at Gus@lakenorman.com.