The fall equinox occurs Sept. 23; that’s the date the amount of daylight and darkness are of equal length. Also known as the first day of fall, it is significant to fishermen because it signals the end of summer and the high temperatures we have experienced.
The autumn cool-down is not only refreshing, but fish sense it and become more energized. Their new-found energy is used to chase and eat massive amounts of forage fish, as they bulk up for the winter months. This one-two punch means fish will be much more aggressive than they were in August and their feeding periods will be more frequent and of longer duration.
What can Lake Norman anglers expect to catch in September? Lots of bass, hybrids, white perch and crappie will be biting, particularly as water temperatures cool later in the month. In addition, by mid-month, 70-degree water temperatures will trigger a migration of fish to the shoreline where they will be easier to locate and can be taken with greater frequency by those who fish banks and shorelines.
One of the best places to find fish early in the month is upriver, where water temperatures are less affected by coal- and nuclear-power generation. The area between the State Park and Buffalo Shoals Road bridge is a good starting spot for anglers who target schooling bass, hybrid striped bass and crappie. Spotted bass will spend most of the day chasing baitfish to the surface; crappie will move inshore to brush piles, downed trees, and man-made fish attractors.
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Mountain Creek is another area where fishing improves early in the month. Those casting around submerged brush piles – and there are lots of them north of Slanting Bridge – will find slab crappie, white perch and plenty of spotted bass. The creek’s four bridges are quite popular with anglers using bright lights at night to attract crappie.
Mooresville anglers will find Reed Creek the place to catch spotted bass feeding on long points and over numerous underwater humps. When spotted bass are deep, a Carolina or drop-shot rig is a good choice of baits. Top-water lures are preferred during surface feeding frenzies.
Tips from Capt. Gus
When perch fishing with a Sabiki jig, instead of reeling as soon as you feel a bite, continue to move it a few more times to entice additional fish to hit the multiple flies. The catch rate will improve, sometimes hooking three to seven fish on a single drop. As the action slows, add a small piece of worm or cut bait.
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, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 9. 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.
Free fishing seminar. “Interpreting Sonar and Down and Side-Scan Images” will be conducted by Jake Bussolini at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville, at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 16. This interactive session will also examine the best ways to catch fall hybrids, stripers and spotted bass. For information, call 704-658-0822.
Sixth Annual Lake Norman Wildlife Oyster and Shrimp Festival. The public is invited to this event scheduled to begin 5 p.m. Sept. 20 at Langtree of Lake Norman, Exit 31, Mooresville. Tickets are $50 each. For information, visit www.lakenormanwildlife.org. Reservations are required.
Hot spots of the week
Spotted bass are being caught on top-water lures while surface feeding, and on soft plastic lures when they are deep. White perch are hitting crappie minnows and jigs fished vertically in water to 40 feet. Night fishing for crappie is excellent around lighted docks and bridges.
Lake Norman’s water level is about 5.5 feet below full pond and 3.5 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake. The surface water temperature is in the mid-80s in water not affected by power generation.
Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide: Gus@lakenorman.com