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Carolinas Fishing Forecast: If weather holds, Norman, Fontana are best bets

Norman, Fontana still producing

Once again, Lake Norman and Fontana Lake appear the most promising places to go freshwater fishing in the Carolinas during the next few days.

Action rates fair to good for striped bass and hybrids at Norman. It looks good at Fontana.

Conditions at both lakes could change, of course, depending on the severity of an approaching cold front that might drop water temperatures significantly.

While Norman’s catch has been relatively low in number, the fish were fairly high in quality – stripers to 30 inches and hybrids to 31/2 pounds.

At Fontana, limits of five smallmouth and spotted bass are averaging about 2 pounds per fish.

Lake Norman: Stripers and hybrids generally are in mixed schools. Best tactics are slow-trolling lures deep on lead-core line and drift-fishing with live baits. Crappie continue to be caught on minnows worked around brush 30 feet down. A mix of species are hitting fairly well in the Plant Marshall and McGuire Nuclear Station hot holes, taking live baits, including blood worms at McGuire.

Lake Wylie: Fair to good for largemouth bass on jerk baits, with the most consistent bite taking place on the lake’s lower end. Fair for crappie around deep cover on minnows. Some action in the Plant Allen hot hole.

Mountain Island Lake: Continuing fair for crappie, but little activity reported.

Cane Creek Park Lake: Little activity. The park has waived fees for anglers until further notice.

Yadkin-Pee Dee River Lakes: Improving for crappie at Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls on minnows fished near deep cover.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Fair at James for smallmouth on lures trolled around points. Fair for crappie 30 feet deep at Rhodhiss and Hickory, mainly on minnows.

Fontana Lake: Good for limits of smallmouth and spotted bass on Alabama rigs and Gulp! Baby Bass lures trolled along and over the points.

Lake Wateree: Continuing good for crappie across most of the lake, with Clearwater Cove and State Park waters producing best. The fish are biting minnows 18-22 feet down just off bottom.

Lake Thurmond: Fair for crappie 45-55 feet deep on sunny points.

Lake Murray: Fair for striped bass in the Buffalo and Rocky Creek sections on live baits 45-50 feet deep.

Santee Cooper Lakes: Good to excellent for shad migrating from the sea in the tailrace canal (or Cooper River) at Pinopolis Dam near Moncks Corner. Most anglers are scoring 20-50 per day. They’re hitting 2-inch curly tail grubs in a chartreuse pattern worked on 1/8th-ounce jig heads. Continuing fair to good for crappie around brush 35-40 feet down on minnows. The lower of the two lakes, Moultrie, still is producing better.

Lake Hartwell: Fair for largemouth on the Seneca River arm and in the major creeks on umbrella rigs and free-lined live baits.

Lake Keowee: Fair for largemouth and spotted bass, suspended 50-70 feet down, on drop-shot rigs.

Lake Jocassee: Some brown trout 10-50 feet deep on spoons.

Outer Banks: Nags Head area: No activity; Oregon Inlet: No activity because of high winds and rough seas; Hatteras Island: Scattered puppy drum at Hatteras Inlet and at the Cape Point jetties near Buxton. Good offshore for grouper to 32 pounds and black sea bass to 8 pounds during days when sea conditions are favorable. Ocracoke Island: No acitvity; Morehead City area: Little activity.

Southeast Coast: Little activity reported.

S.C. Coast: Little River area: A few scattered small croaker and whiting; Grand Strand area: Red drum in tight schools in the creeks at Murrells Inlet, and on warm days they generally move to the flats. A few speckled trout from waters near Pawley’s Island and Georgetown; Charleston area: Wahoo to 91 pounds and blackfin tuna just offshore of the ledge when sea conditions are decent. Schooling reds on the flats during low tide on ZMan Streak Z lures. Good for sheepshead 10-25 feet deep around bridge pilings on oysters; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Reds in tight schools on the flats, but cold water has left the fish lethargic and at times they’re reluctant to hit. Best baits are mud minnows and scented plastic lures.