It’s hard to believe that it’s December again.
Hopefully, between all the busy holiday festivities, you’ll find time to catch some very active bass and crappie.
A key factor to fishing during this last month of 2012 is water temperature. The warmer the water, the more frequently the fish will feed. When the water is cold, even a degree or two can make a difference in the number of fish you catch.
For that reason, the hot holes at the McGuire and Marshall power plants are popular with winter fishermen. Depending on wind direction, the adjacent river and/or creek channels also are warmer than the surrounding lake temperatures. Fishermen who know this frequent Ramsey and McCrary creeks when the wind blows from the west.
Not all fish seek solace from the cold in the waters affected by the hot holes. Some simply go deeper where temperatures are a few degrees warmer. The depth depends on the conditions suitable for the species targeted. It is not unusual to find anglers fishing in water 30 to 70 feet deep. The good thing about cold-water fishing is that fish tend to stay where they are until conditions change. They “hole-up” in the same place for weeks at a time. Popular deep-water creeks are Hicks, Mountain and Reeds.
When all else fails, particularly on clear and windless afternoons, savvy anglers prowl the shallows for sunning fish. Large fish sometimes lay motionless along rip-rapped shorelines, cement boat ramps and sandy bottoms, where they are they warmed by the sun. Anglers searching for sunning fish should wear polarized glasses to better see their quarry, the same as they use to hunt for bedding fish in spring.
Remember to keep one eye on the surface-water temperature readout on your depth finder and the other on the sky. December is the month that seabirds return to local lakes. When gulls and terns are flying low to the water – or better yet, diving into the water – fish likely are feeding in the area.
Tip from Capt. Gus
December is the month to bundle up to beat the winter chill. Layering helps, but insulated/weatherproof head-gear, gloves, boots, jackets and bibbed overalls will keep you warmer.
Expect phenomenal fishing for bass, crappie and white perch. Spotted bass will be hitting a variety of baits, depending on where they’re feeding in the water column. Best baits to use are shaky heads cast around boat docks, deep-diving swim baits over humps, and buzz baits on shallow points.
Crappie will hit jigs fished near submerged brush and bridge pilings. White perch will snare minnows, worms and Sabikis fished along the edges of creek and river channels. Larger perch will feed just off bottom in very deep water
The water level on Lake Norman is about 4.9 feet below full pond and is 4.2 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake. The surface water temperature is in the 50s in water not affected by power generation.