Now that summer is in full swing, let’s discuss hot-weather fishing on Lake Norman.
While most anglers are waiting for the fall cool-down, some are catching plenty of fish in August. But, even those who brave the heat choose the times and places they fish in order to maximize their comfort and improve their catch rate.
Here are a few reminders that might make it easier to catch a limit.
Q. What types of fish are biting?
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A. During the heat of the day, bream, perch and catfish are easy targets. Bream, (sunfish) love warm weather and can be found swimming along most shorelines that have a combination of shade and sunlight. Catfish cruise a little deeper, but are extremely active during the summer. White perch, the mainstay for family vacation fishing trips, gather in large schools and bite feverishly throughout the day.
Q. What are the best times to fish?
A. Dawn, dusk and cloudy days are prime times to catch fish in August.
Those who fish after dark can try their luck for bass, hybrids, stripers and crappie. They are attracted to lights that shine directly into the water at night. Bass hybrid and striper fishermen look for lighted boat docks, and those targeting crappie, hang lanterns and LED lights over the sides of their boats.
Q. What are the best baits to use?
A. It depends.
Bream – bread/dough balls, worms, crickets and popping bugs.
▪ Catfish – prepared stink baits, chicken parts, fresh-cut fish and live bream.
▪ White perch – small minnows, jigs, spoons and Sabiki rigs.
▪ Bass – large minnows, top-water lures, soft plastics, swim and crank baits.
▪ Stripers/hybrid striped bass – live shad, herring, shiners, roadrunners, bucktails, jigging spoons and Alabama rigs.
▪ Crappies – crappie minnows and small jigs.
Q. What is the best tackle to use?
A. When fishing for bream, perch, channel catfish and crappie, a light-action 6- to 7-foot spinning outfit, loaded with 6- to 10-pound test line, is perfect. Bass, stripers, blue and flathead catfish are larger and require stronger tackle and line.
Q. Where are the best places to fish?
A. Try these locations:
▪ Bridge Pilings – crappie, bass and stripers.
▪ Submerged brush/deep-water attractors – bass, crappie.
▪ Piers and boat houses – all species.
▪ Channel markers – bass.
▪ Boat basins – bass, catfish and bream.
▪ Shorelines, fallen trees or overhanging limbs – bass and bream.
▪ Deep coves and pockets – white perch and spotted bass.
Tip from Capt. Gus
For those who want to catch something really big this summer and can only fish from the shore, give carp fishing a try. There are lots of 10- to 20-pounders in the lake. Best baits are dough balls and kernels of canned corn fished on the bottom.
Free safe-boating class: “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd., Cornelius. 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.
Hot spots of the week
White perch and spotted bass are suspended in water to 40 feet. Cat fishing is improving with water temperatures topping high-80s degrees. Stink baits fished from docks and anchored boats are tempting channel cats, while a variety of fresh-cut and live baits are luring blue and flatheads. Deep docks, river points and humps are the places to catch larger bass throughout the day. Some hybrid and striped bass are hitting live bait and A-rigs upriver when the current is flowing.
The surface-water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the high 80s and low 90s in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 4.3 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.4 feet below on Mountain Island Lake.
Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman: Gus@lakenorman.com