At certain times of the year, fishing the banks of Lake Norman can be quite productive, with or without a boat.
Anglers with boats spend a large portion of time casting toward the bank, while those without boats also find fishing from the shore productive.
Freshwater fish cruise the shoreline in search of food, shade and cover. The challenge is to find the right bank to fish.
Duke Power provides fishing access from the banks at its two power plants. The McGuire Nuclear Station is off N.C. 73, east of Cowan's Ford Dam. The Marshall Steam Plant is off N.C. 150 on the west side of the Catawba River.
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Both areas, known as “hot holes,” are popular places for fish and anglers. The warm, highly oxygenated water serves as an incubator for small forage fish. Game fish are so plentiful that bank fishermen stand shoulder to shoulder at times.
Fishing techniques vary by angler and time of year. Bottom fishing with dead or live bait is popular at both discharge chutes. Many anglers choose a medium-action spinning outfit rigged with a slip sinker, a swivel, a length of leader material and a hook.
The hook can be baited with a dead fish, a worm or a live bait. Bass minnows are popular live baits.
Fishermen in search of catfish should use prepared catfish baits, and chicken livers or Vienna sausages work surprisingly well. Use heavy weights in strong currents.
Bait can be bought on the way to the McGuire Plant at Gander Mountain (Exit 36 of I-77), the BP station on N.C. 150, or the Exxon station at N.C. 73 and Beatties Ford Road.
If you're fishing the Marshall Steam Plant discharge, Midway Marina and the Terrell Bait Shop are convenient places on the west side to purchase worms and minnows.
Fishermen who prefer to use artificial lures might choose silver spoons, white bucktails or topwater lures. These baits work particularly well when largemouth, white perch or striped bass are feeding.
At times, feeding activity will occur on the surface. Swirls, caused by large fish striking bait, signal the start of a feeding frenzy. Usually the bite doesn't last long, but when it does happen, everyone on the bank will have a bent rod.
These hot holes produce nice catches year round. During the winter, the warm water attracts all types of fish that require relief from the cold. In summer, the oxygen created by moving water draws fish from the still waters of the lake.
If you haven't previously fished these spots, plan to spend some time watching and talking to those who have. Most are willing to share their fishing techniques and success stories with you.
One thing for sure, fish bite best when the current is running. The faster the current, the more active the fish will be. Again, remember that a strong current requires a heavier weight. Also, when water is moving briskly, it's best to cast upcurrent and allow the bait to bump along the bottom as it drifts back toward you.
To successfully land a fish, I recommend a long-handled net. Be very careful, as rocks are slippery and the water moves swiftly most of the time. Children should always wear life preservers and should never be left unattended.
N.C. Wildlife officers patrol both fishing areas on a regular basis. To avoid a penalty, abide by all fishing rules and be aware of the creel and size limits of the fish you keep.
The Lake Norman State Park near Troutman opened its fishing pier in spring 2005. The wooden structure is about 65 feet long and is wheelchair accessible.
The pier's cove supports a large population of bream, bass, white perch, catfish and stripers. Minnows, worms, stinkbaits and artificial lures are all good baits to use. The park also has a 33-acre lake for fishing and boating.
Anglers casting from shore catch a lot of fish on worms. Night crawlers, red wigglers and bloodworms are popular. A small piece of worm will work, so don't waste a whole worm when it can be cut into several pieces.
Light House Marine Services will offer an eight-hour Boater Safety and Personal Watercraft class at 9 a.m. Saturday. The registration fee is $29.99 for adults, a $20 reduction off the regular price. The savings are possible because of discounts offered by the Lake Norman Marine Commission and Light House Marine Service.
The class will be conducted at North Point Watersports, 113 Doolie Road, Mooresville, N.C. To register, or for more information, call Scott Spivey at 704-58-0325 or visit www.Lmservice.org.
Stripers and bass are feeding (particularly at dawn), on river channel points in water to 50 feet deep. Best baits to use are shad, herring and shiners. Big catfish are being caught around docks with live bream or cut bait. Bass fishing continues to be very good near boat docks and deep brush.
The water temperature is in the 70s. The lake level is down 1.3 feet below full pond.