This Fourth of July week, not all the loud noises are in the sky. Lots of them are caused by splashing fish and kids yelling when the fish jump.
Fishing seems better than it has been in years. It might be the hot weather or high water levels, or maybe there are more fish around than in the past.
Each summer lots of kids and adults snatch catfish, carp and sunnys from under docks and around dock pilings on Lake Norman. But this year it's better than ever, and the fish are bigger.
Hungry fish make it a fun time for all, especially the youngsters. They are biting just about any bait, including worms, bread balls and table scraps.
Those fishing for bass, crappie and white perch should wait until the sun sets and attract them by flipping on the dock lights.
The good thing about fishing on July 4th is that it is a "fish for free" day, meaning no one needs a fishing license. Anyone can fish for free in all public waters, including coastal waters, from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. today. All other regulations still apply, including fish length, daily limits and bait and tackle restrictions.
The aim of the free day is to get people hooked on fishing.
"The more positive a fishing experience is, the more likely that a person will continue fishing," said Kyle Briggs, a program manager with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Division of Inland Fisheries.
To help you and your family get off to a great start this summer, here are few pointers.
To attract fish, bait the water around your dock with dog food, rabbit or trout pellets, or pieces of bread.
Attract fish at night by installing lights that shine directly into the water.
Best baits are worms, minnows, bread balls and table scraps.
Snoopy and Spider Man rods catch lots of fish. But set the drag loose in case you hook a big one.
Bobbers and floats keep baits from dragging and hanging up on the bottom.
Long-handle nets are a must when pier fishing. Always net the fish head first.
Take care while unhooking your catch so you don't hook yourself.
Release any fish that aren't going to be eaten.
Take pictures of your catch.
Of course, you don't have to fish to enjoy the water. Throw bread crumbs or a handful of dog food in the water, and you may see anything from a school of minnows to a giant carp. The food also attracts turtles, ducks and geese.
Children should be required to wear life jackets while fishing, boating or even roaming the shoreline or casting from a dock or pier.
Fish early in the day. Later is hot, and pleasure boats will be stirring up the fish. Best bets for now are stripers in deep water south of Marker 7 to the dam. Catfish are hitting cut baits (bream, perch and herring) drifted or slow-trolled in back coves and shallow points. Lots of white bass are being caught on Sabiki rigs, but small minnows, worm pieces and spoons work well, too. The best bass fishing is early and late around docks and other shaded structures.