Many people stop fishing for stripers during the warmer months because fish are harder to find in deep water. For the few who brave summer pleasure-boat traffic, the reward is often a four-fish limit of tasty filets. If you want to try your luck, try one of these proven techniques.
Live or cut bait. Drift or slow-troll live baits (1 mph or less) at depths from 30 feet to just off the bottom. Popular warm-water baits are shad, herring, shiners, perch, bream and black saltys. Attach the bait to a 1/0 or larger circle hook and tie it to the end of a Carolina rig using a half-ounce or larger slip sinker.
Deep jigging. When striper schools are found, some prefer to use a metal spoon and/or a bucktail instead of natural bait. Drop the lure just above the feeding fish and yo-yo it up and down. Usually the fish will strike while the lure is falling, so maintain a taut line so you can feel the bite. Depending on depth, wind and current, jigs from one-half ounce to 11/4 ounces are preferred. Best colors are white, yellow and chartreuse.
Deep trolling. Trolling allows anglers to cover large areas. You must use down riggers, down planers, lead core line or inline weights to get lures to depths of 30 feet or more. Best baits are bucktails, roadrunners, spoons and long-lipped diving baits.
From June until September, stripers are in the deeper sections of river and creek channels. Many anglers fish Mountain and Reed's creeks. The Catawba River channel, from Markers 23 to 19 at the upper end of the lake and from Marker 11 to the dam at the south end, are also recommended areas.
Because stripers are nocturnal, many are caught at night. The most popular area is the deep water near Cowan's Ford Dam. Savvy anglers use waterproof lights to attract baitfish, which, in turn, attract stripers. The light draws fish to the boat and makes it easier to catch a limit.
Note: Between now and Sept. 30, most stripers become stressed and die when released. Therefore, anglers are encouraged to keep fish they catch. There is no size limit during this period, but the creel limit of four fish per day per angler is strictly enforced.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary will offer a boater safety and personal watercraft class Saturday at Kings Point Marina (Morning Star) in Cornelius. For details, contact John Marino at Marinoj@cgadavidson.org or 828-478-2507.
Light House Marine Services will offer a course titled "How to Safely Navigate Lake Norman" 6:30-9 p.m. June 17 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville, taught by me. I'll discuss topics including "Understanding Lake Norman's Marker and Buoy System," "Identifying and Learning How to Avoid Dangerous Shoals" and "How to Use and Interpret Lake Maps." The cost is $25. To register or for details, call Lt. Scott Spivey, 704-587-0325, or visit www.Lmservice.org.
Stripers are hitting near the islands north of the state park and in Mountain Creek from Slanting Bridge to the river channel. Bass are surface-feeding on points and in coves at dusk. Cat fishing is good to excellent off shallow points and near boat docks.