Cabarrus

For the best fishing on lake, try one of the many docks

Where is the best place to bass fish on Lake Norman?

That's a very good question and one frequently asked by those new to the area. Some think fishing is better above the N.C. 150 bridge, and others prefer the hot water discharge channels at both power plants.

The list goes on. But arguably the most consistent year-round place to cast for bass is under and around docks. And, Lake Norman has more than its share. If fact, it has so many that anglers find it a daunting task to fish all of the 15,000-plus docks that dot the shoreline.

Even though there are ample docks, no two are the same, and bass avoid many of them. Savvy anglers make a list of docks they fish when conditions and timing are right. They know that some docks hold bass when the water levels are high, while others bite better during low water. Additionally, some are better in the mornings than in the afternoons, and some at different seasons of the year. So, how does one sort through the maze?

Begin by grouping boat docks into categories, such as deep or shallow water; spring, summer, fall and winter; floating or fixed floatation; morning, afternoon or night; old or new; and those with submerged brush piles. As fish are being caught from various dock types, make mental or written notes and search out similar structures to determine if you have discovered a pattern.

Older docks seem to harbor more fish than newer ones, possibly because over time, the owners have placed Christmas trees or other woody debris nearby. If you have difficulty locating docks with sunken brush or other fish habitat, look for rod holders, fishing poles, cleaning stations and bright lights aimed to shine into the water at night. These are dead giveaways that there are sunken objects within casting distance.

Astute bass anglers notice the type of floatation. If it's black, it will absorb more heat and make the surrounding water warmer than the lighter-colored Styrofoam-type flotation. That is a good thing during the cooler months and not so good in the summer.

Wooden ladders, steps, pilings and cross boards offer bass places to suspend and hide while waiting to ambush their next meal. Floating docks are often less appealing since they have fewer objects protruding into the water, and bass tend to lie farther back, where it is harder to cast to them.

Upcoming Events

A free safe boating class, "How to Navigate Norman when the Lake is Low," will be held 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday at North Point Watersports, 112 Doolie Road, Mooresville. Topics for discussion will include Understanding Lake Norman's Channel Marker and Buoy System, Identifying and Learning How to Avoid the Ten Most Dangerous Spots, and Safely Navigating In Low Water Conditions. For information, call me at 704-617-6812 or email Gus@LakeNoman.com.

Tips from Capt. Gus

Use a No. 4 or No. 2 J-hook when dock or pier fishing with night crawlers or red wigglers. The hook is big enough to snare large bass and blue catfish but small enough to hook sunfish, perch and channel cats.

The Hot Spot of the Week

Bass are surface feeding in the south hot hole and on river and secondary points throughout the day. Crank baits and shaky head jigs produce limits when fished on humps and brush. Perch fishing continues to be good to very good when drifting small minnows or vertically jigging Sabiki jigs. Striper fishing is slow, but the best bet is to try the main river channel above the Lake Norman State Park.

The lake level on Lake Norman is about 4.2 feet' below full pond, and down 2.8 feet on Mountain Island Lake. The water surface temperature on both lakes is in the mid- to high 70.

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