Lake Norman & Mooresville

Let’s answer these frequent questions

Q. Can I spend the night on Lake Norman’s islands?

A. No. According to information posted at N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission boat access areas, no night time use is permitted from sunset until sunrise. In addition, no permanent structures are allowed, and no fires, littering or removal of vegetation.

Q. How do you catch gar?

A. Since garfish have a mouth full of teeth, it is best not to fish for them. If you must, cast a strip of fresh-cut fish hooked to a line without any weight. Cast in front of a gar swimming on the surface. Let the bait sink slowly, and the gar will more than likely bite it as it falls. Another technique is to cast a plastic worm, also without a weight, over its nose. A gar will often snap at the bait as it is being retrieved.

Q. What’s the best time to catch gar?

A. Most gars are caught during the spring and summer months while cruising the surface. Unlike other species on Lake Norman, garfish prefer bright sunlight and can be taken throughout the day around boat docks and in shallow coves.

Q. Where is Blue Heron Island?

A. There are two islands just south of Markers D4 and D6 in Reed Creek. Blue Heron Island is the smaller and is closer to Marker D6. It is a major rookery for the great blue heron that live in the lower part of Lake Norman. Since the island is off limits to visitors during nesting season, bring binoculars to view the birds.

Q. When is the best time to fish during the summer?

A. Fish when the air temperature is the coolest and the hot sun is not shining on the water. That usually means between dusk and dawn or on cloudy days. June through August are great months to fish after dark, particularly around bridges, lighted boat docks and in the river channel at Cowan’s Ford Dam.

Q. What fish, other than bass, can I expect to catch on Lake Norman?

A. Since there is no closed fishing season, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, catfish, crappie, white perch and sunfish can be caught year-round.

Q. How many poles/fishing rods can I fish with on Lake Norman?

A. You may use as many as you like. There is no limit on the number of poles/rods one may use.

Q. What is full pond?

A. When Lake Norman is at full pond, the water level is 760 feet above mean sea level and is stated to be at 100.0 feet in area newspapers. The targeted lake level during the summer months is 98.0 feet or 2.0 feet below full pond.

Hot spots of the week

Cat fishing has been excellent since the last week of May. Best bets are shallow flats adjacent to deep water. White perch have hit their summer stride, as well, with some anglers catching 50 or more per outing. Crappies are still biting, but have moved to deeper surroundings. The best time to catch them shallow is after dark, around lighted docks and under lanterns suspended over the water. Bass are being caught regularly by those casting soft plastics and jerk baits to docks and channel points.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the 70s in open waters not affected by power generation. The lake level is about 2.2 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.3 feet below on Mountain Island Lake.

Tip from Capt. Gus

June is a good month to experiment with spinner baits. They can be fished at any depth from the surface to the bottom, and are ideal in brush and around fallen trees.

Upcoming event

Free safe-boating class. “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd., Cornelius, at 6:30 p.m. June 10. Becky Johnson and I will cover “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “10 Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley at 704-892-7575.

Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at