An easy way to locate feeding fish in January is to watch for diving seabirds.
The birds identify the places where stripers, bass or white perch are chasing forage fish to the surface. The feeder fish are squeezed by the predators from below and the birds from above.
Surface feeding activity can result in a memorable fishing trip, but don't expect it to happen every day.
When fish aren't surface-feeding, they move deeper into the water, where temperatures are a few degrees warmer. If in doubt, fish deeper.
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In addition to temperature considerations, herring live in deep water. This forage fish is the one most sought by deep swimming stripers, spotted bass and white perch.
When fish are deep, your fish finder is useful. Constant surveillance eventually will show their presence.
When the "Fish ID Mode" is disabled, fish will appear as arches. The thicker the arch, the larger the fish. A concentration of arches indicates that a school of fish is under the boat.
Arches appear from time to time throughout the water column, but pay particular attention to those shown mid-way in the column: They usually indicate actively feeding and easy-to-catch fish.
Very cold water drives fish to the hot water discharge channels of Lake Norman's two power plants. Hot-hole fish can be caught by using a multitude of methods, including tossing surface lures when fish are feeding on top.
When fish are deep, live bait, buck tails and spoons work most of the time.
On sunny afternoons, large bass and stripers sometimes will cruise or remain motionless in extremely shallow water. When that happens, they are not there to feed but to warm their bodies from the heat generated by the rays of the sun, but can be tempted into biting.
Regardless of how or where you fish in late winter, be prepared for chilly mornings and cold days, particularly when a weather front has just passed.
Regulars usually have a propane heater on board to warm wet hands and cold faces. Single, double or triple heater heads are mounted atop 20-pound propane tanks. Others use smaller catalytic heaters mounted on 1-pound disposable cylinders.
Free seminar: "How to Safely Navigate Lake Norman Using Sonar and GPS," 6:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at North Point Watersports, 112 Doolie Road, Mooresville. Learn the "Basics of Sonar and GPS." Bring your questions and instruction booklets. Call 704-799-1994.
Free seminar: "How To Use Your Lowrance or Humminbird Fish Finder to Catch Bass, White Perch and Stripers." Jake Bussolini, Bill Hassig and I will conduct this seminar 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36 in Mooresville. Bring your questions and instruction booklets.
Details: 704 658 0822.
Diving seabirds are showing the way to feeding bass, perch and stripers.
Best bets on the north end of Lake Norman are Stumpy, Rocky and Hicks creeks, where surface feeding occurs mainly in the morning and on cloudy days.
To the south, fishing is similar in Mountain, Lucky and Reed creeks. On sunny afternoons, bass are hitting buzz baits on shallow stumpy points and in the backs of coves. Perch and crappie fishing is very good on small jigs, minnows fished over deep brush and in open water on Sabiki rigs.
The surface water temperature is in the 50s and the lake level is about 2 feet below full pond on Lake Norman. Mountain Island Lake is approximately 3 feet below full pond.