Lake Norman & Mooresville

Lure fish with bait from your lunchbox

Pieces of hot dogs, Vienna sausage, cheese and bread have been catching fish for years. The next time you take a trip to the lake, share your lunch with the fish, and see what happens.

Don’t be surprised if you catch a bass, catfish or bream on a piece of leftover bread. If you’re fishing in the mountains, you might catch a rainbow trout on a kernel of corn quicker than you would a wet fly.

If the bait doesn’t stay on the hook because there is too much current, try a piece of chewing gum or a candy Gummy Worm. Like lures, certain flavors and colors work better on some days than others, so keep a variety of gum packs in your pocket.

Marshmallows on a hook suspended below a red and white bobber have taken many catfish over the years and have even fooled a carp or two. Marshmallow miniatures will catch a bream (sunny) in the shallows quicker than a cricket will on certain days. If the fish are running small, cut the white mini-marshmallow in pieces small enough for the pan fish to swallow.

Grapes, especially muscadines, are excellent catfish bait. In fact, when you see ripe muscadines growing along the bank, catfish are likely to be feeding on the tender fruit droppings.

Note: Leftovers, particularly clams, mussels, shrimp, or crawfish will be gobbled up by catfish, bass and hybrid striped bass when fished on a hook. Some say, “the spicier, the better,” so don’t be afraid to give Cajun or garlic shrimp/crawfish a try.

Another trick is to dip the leftover pieces in cocktail sauce. The fish might like the taste better than you do. Chicken and turkey parts marinated in soy sauce, honey mustard salad dressing or sprinkled with spices often lure catfish to the hook better than a wiggly worm.

The bacon, ham or sausage you didn’t finish at breakfast might be just the tidbit that will make fish bite after sunrise. Crispy bacon is hard to hook, but an uncooked strip cut into pieces will often entice fish. Sliced ham, particularly country ham, takes its share of swimmers when left on the lake bottom long enough to allow its scent to flow with the current.

Other overlooked table fare is pizza crust, baked beans, peas, popcorn, chicken parts, strawberries, french-fries and smoked salmon.

Most times, fish will eat just about anything you do. So don’t be afraid to experiment.

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 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.

Upcoming events

A free fishing seminar on Interpreting Sonar and Down and Side Scan Images will be conducted by Jake Bussolini at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. This interactive session will also examine the best ways to catch fall hybrids, stripers and spotted bass. For more information, call 704-658-0822.

The Sixth Annual Lake Norman Wildlife Oyster and Shrimp Festival will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 10 at Langtree of Lake Norman, Exit 31, Mooresville. Tickets are available at For information, visit the organization’s new website at

Hot spots of the week

Low water conditions and high air temperatures don’t seem to be affecting the bass fishing. Fishermen who get an early start are catching quick limits. However, some of the best fishing has been between 9 a.m. and noon, when schooling bass are chasing baitfish to the surface.

Largemouth bass are hitting top water, too, particularly on the shady side of deep water docks and boat ramps. Crappie fishing continues to please those fishing around deep brush and bridge pilings at night. Deep water white perch are running larger than normal. Hybrids and stripers are hitting live baits and A-Rigs upriver between markers 18 and 21.

Lake levels

Lake Norman’s lake level is about 5.7 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: