Cabarrus

Norman is region's best bass lake

Newcomers will be happy to learn that Lake Norman is the premier lake in the region for bass fishing.

The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and the Forrest L. Wood Tournament Trails hold frequent national events here. Lake Norman also is gaining a reputation for its trophy blue catfish population and a great white perch fishery.

The information below will help you learn what the lake has to offer.

For information, pick up a free copy of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's "Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest," available where fishing licenses are sold.

Q. Which fish are caught during the summer?

Most species bite all year on Lake Norman. Summer is best for catfish, white perch and sunfish. Stripers, crappie and bass are more active in cooler months, but they also bite during summer, especially after dark.

Q. Is it true that smallmouth bass, trout and walleyes are caught on Lake Norman?

No. They are cold-water fish that generally swim in mountain lakes and streams farther north.

Q. Where can I fish from the bank?

Public fishing is permitted in certain areas at the Ramsey Creek Fishing Pier in Cornelius, the Lake Norman State Park near Troutman and at the McGuire and Marshall power plants.

Q. Who needs a fishing license?

Anyone 16 or older who fishes in public waters must have a license. Licenses can be purchased at most bait shops; at department stores that sell bait or tackle; online at www.ncwildlife.org; by phone at 888-248-6834; or by mail to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1751 Varsity Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606.

Q. What is the best type of rod and reel to use for most fish on Lake Norman?

Light to medium spinning tackle will handle most species. Try a 6- to 7-foot rod and a matching reel loaded with 8- to 12-pound-test line. For children, a closed-faced spinning reel with a 5- to 6-foot rod and 8- to 10-pound line is ideal.

Q. Is there a closed season for bass on Lake Norman?

No. Anglers can fish year-round for all species except grass carp, which are stocked to control the spread of hydrilla and other exotic weeds.

Q. What other types of fish are stocked in Lake Norman?

Striped bass are the only game fish stocked regularly. Bass, catfish, perch and crappie reproduce naturally each year, so regular stockings are not required.

Q. Are the rumors true or false about divers seeing giant catfish swimming in the deep water near the dam?

Reports of monster catfish sightings abound each year. The biggest catfish ever caught on a rod and reel on Lake Norman weighed 85 pounds. Some anglers surmise that a 5-foot-long, 100-pound Arkansas blue catfish is swimming somewhere in the lake.

Q. Which baits are best?

That depends on the species you target. Regardless, almost any fish that swims will take a worm or a lively minnow. Bass generally are caught on artificial lures. Catfish bite fresh-cut and prepared baits. Stripers take lures and live shad or herring. Crappie can't resist minnows and jigs, and white perch prefer shiny lures and minnows.

Daily size, creel limits

Stripers: 16-inch minimum Oct. 1-May 31; no minimum size June 1-Sept. 30. Four-fish limit.

Largemouth and spotted bass: 14-inch minimum (two may be shorter than 14 inches). Five-fish limit in aggregate.

Crappie: 8-inch minimum; 20-fish limit in aggregate.

White perch: No size or creel limit.

Catfish: No limit, except on blue catfish: Only one blue catfish longer than 32 inches is allowed.

Sunfish: No size limit; 30-fish limit in aggregate.

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