Are there any "BIG" fish in Lake Norman?
As a matter of fact, yes, there are. Several state-record fish have been caught in Lake Norman.
An 85-pound Arkansas blue catfish was caught in 2003 and held the state record until 2006, when an 89-pound blue was caught in Badin Lake. The Arkansas blues were stocked by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission shortly after Lake Norman reached full pond back in the '60s. Lots of 10- to 25- pounders are caught. Many Lake Norman anglers believe several blues more than 100 pounds are waiting to take back the state record.
For spotted bass, Paul Stephenson, a former Mooresville resident, caught one March 25 weighing 6.93 pounds that beat the record 6-pound-5-ounce spotted bass caught by Eric Weir in December 2003. Stephenson was fishing with John Morrow, a local guide.
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The state record for a largemouth bass (almost 16 pounds) was caught in a Union County pond. I think we will have to wait quite a while to see a bass that big in Norman, but you never know.
Way back in 1971, an angler named David Shook caught a 5-pound-15-ounce Sauger (cousin of a walleye) on a Rapala lure. His record still stands and will probably never be bested in Lake Norman. Sauger have been depleted from the lake; none have shown up in fish surveys for many years.
There are several types of carp in the lake, and lots of 25-30 pounders have been caught. Have you ever seen and fed the monsters at Queens Landing in Mooresville?
Several years ago, sterile grass carp were stocked in the lake to eat hydrilla, a fast-growing, non-native water plant. These fish can grow to more than 40-50 pounds. We could have a record, but fishing for them, and possession, is illegal.
One of the largest striped bass caught in Lake Norman was caught by Sam "Rawhide" Newman, (a local famous striper angler) back in 2000. It weighed 34 pounds. The average striper caught these days is 3 to 6 pounds. The state record is more than 54 pounds. Maybe some day...
And last but not least, we have gar.
Gar, or garfish, are prehistoric-looking fish with a very skinny body and a long thin snout full of teeth. Dead ones have been measured at more than 5 feet, but most are 3 to 4 feet long. Many anglers and lake dwellers have never seen a live gar.
Trust me: You don't really want to get a big one in your boat.
Lots of anglers cut the line and let them go. Most local gar are long-nose gar, but I've been told we have a few alligator gar.
A friend asked me if these big fish are dangerous to kids swimming and playing in the lake. I replied with a smile, "Unless you load their pockets with night crawlers or cut fish bait, the kids should be fine."
If you see or hear about a giant fish, grab your rod and hit the lake.
Or call me ASAP!