Higher lake levels bring better luck for anglers

After several months of low water, recent rains have caused water levels on Lake Norman to rise well above targeted levels for December.

High water makes catching fish easier, particularly largemouth and spotted bass.

The low lake levels experienced in September and October forced bass to find cover in deep water. Conversely, as water levels rise, bass return to the same covered rocks, downed trees and stump fields that they frequented in the spring. Savvy anglers made notes while the lake was low and marked spots on their GPS units and topographic paper maps.

Shallow-water bass are easy to tempt with topwater lures. Spinner and buzz baits are popular with local anglers, but floating worms, swim and jerk baits also have their time and place. When you see baitfish schools swimming on the surface, a small popping or stick bait often causes explosive strikes.

High water is a boon to dock fishermen. Unless bass are surface-feeding, the best way to attract dock bass is to fish with a bobber with live minnows. Multiple rods increase chances of catching several fish.

Be very sure the rods are secured in the rod holders with the drag set rather lightly. Otherwise, a big one may break the line or pull a rod into the lake.

To check lake levels call 800-829-5253 or visit

Tips from Capt. Gus

Regardless of bait preference, the forage fish (shad and herring) in Lake Norman run small. So use smallish baits. Small lures will catch even big fish. Often fish ignore large baits, and little fish can't swallow them.

Hot Spots of the Week

Fishing for spotted bass is excellent. Swim baits, bottom-bumping shaky heads and crank baits fished near points, humps and around dock pilings are good choices. White perch are hitting small pieces of cut bait, crappie minnows and small lures and jigs. Try fishing narrow coves, where the water is 20 to 40 feet deep. Crappie fishing is excellent for those fishing minnows around boathouses, submerged brush and bridge pilings.

Lake Norman's water level is about 2.2 feet below full pond.