There once was a sign on a dock in the back of a popular Lake Norman creek that read, “Fishing Is Good – Feed the Cat.” During the colder months of the year, the area surrounding this dock held bass, crappie and even a few stripers.
The dock was so plentiful that anglers waited in line to try their luck during crappie season. A nearby cat waited for an occasional minnow or bits and pieces of live bait to be tossed its way.
Not all signs are as obvious or as easy to interpret, but subtle signs are everywhere. Even though some signs are in the water, others could be in the sky, at a dock or along a shoreline. A small swirl on the water's surface is often an indication that a large fish has just made a meal of an unlucky smaller one.
What might appear as a single raindrop on the water could be a school of baitfish. A great blue heron stalking the shallows of a creek bank, a diving seabird or a fish chasing bait on the surface are all signs that should be further investigated and thoroughly fished.
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Trees tell anglers a lot about the topography of the lake. For example, willow trees grow in areas where the water is shallow and the bottom is sandy. Nesting fish prefer such conditions for depositing their eggs each spring. Pine and hardwood trees are found where water is deep and the high banks generally do not flood.
A “blow down” is a term for a tree that has fallen into the water, often due to an undercut or eroded bank. Undercuts afford shade and protection for small fish, which attract predators. When viewing the shoreline from afar, certain clumps of trees appear to be higher than others. A low tree line indicates that the water nearby is more shallow than the water near the taller trees. As a rule, fish are shallow in the spring and swim the deeper banks at other times of the year.
Channel and shoal markers on Lake Norman are generally located in water less than 12 feet. Markers indicate shallow areas, excellent haunts for game fish. Anglers new to the lake should focus their primary efforts around these markers. Each channel marker is identified with a sign that has a number and possibly a number/letter printed on its red or green background. The lake's navigational markers are the easiest of all signs to read.
Tips from Gus
A ring around the sun or moon indicates moisture in the atmosphere and usually bodes well for fishing.
On Oct. 1, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will implement annual “delayed harvest” regulations for 20 designated trout waters in 14 counties in western North Carolina. Under the regulations, no trout can be harvested from these waters between Wednesday and one half-hour after sunset on June 5, 2009. No natural bait is allowed, and anglers can fish only with single-hook artificial lures.
The Norman Fishery Alliance Annual Meeting and Fish Fry will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 11 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36 Mooresville.
Hot spot of the week
The hot spot of the week is Mountain Creek. The deep waters in front of the Boat Rack, as well as points and humps in Reeds and Davidson creeks, are yielding nice catches of stripers and spotted bass. Live bait and jigging spoons are effective in large schools. Fish are holding and feeding in water depths of 40 feet or more.
The lake level is down about 2.5 feet from full pond, and the water's surface temperature is in the mid-70s to low 80s. For the past week, striper, bass and cat fishing has been good to very good.