Fall is the absolute best time to go fishing in the Lake Norman area. There is great scenery and a whole lot less of some other things: heat, crowds and boat traffic. Fewer snakes too.
The fish are biting and easy to catch. And, if you do it right, the kids will love it. Remember, kids have a short attention span, and if they aren't catching fish, they will enjoy splashing, wading and rock throwing.
Wondering where to fish? Neighborhood ponds, docks, parks and the shoreline at Lake Norman can be good. Some of the parks even have fishing piers.
Bank and dock anglers usually catch catfish, bream, white perch, carp and bass. Try to pick an open spot without too many trees and bushes.
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Look for places where the water is at least 2-3 feet deep and drops off deeper close to the shore. Thread bait on to the hook, attach a bobber about 2 feet above the bait and you are ready. Now cast toward the lake. Hopefully your bobber should be close to the spot you aimed for and not at your feet or behind you.
I like to start with my bobber 2-3 feet above my bait. If I don't get a bite I move the bobber up the line about a foot at a time until I get in the strike zone.
Try to use live bait if possible - lively shiners and wiggling worms can't be beat. But Berkley Gulp Baits has a variety of artificial baits for every kind of fish. They offer worms, leeches, minnows and even wax worms. The baits have a long shelf life perfect for the occasional angler.
If you have access to a boat, your options are endless. Check with other anglers and the local bait shop for some good spots to try.
For example, if you live near Mooresville, I would tell you to try near the Lake Norman Yacht Club and the big long creek between Isle of Pines and the Peninsula (about halfway back). We have consistently caught bass and catfish in those two spots.
We used live shiners, shrimp, night crawlers and pieces of white perch.
The best and the worst thing about the spotted bass is that they are not in the same place and depth at the same time every day. They love to chase bait right out of the water. Largemouth will be hanging around docks, points and close to deep water.
Early mornings and evenings, top-water baits like spinner baits, buzz baits, stick baits and floating worms and lizards should get some strikes.
As the sun gets higher, you want to fish deeper. Use the same plastics with a Carolina rig or a Texas rig. Crank baits and drop-shot rigs also work in deep water.
Now is also great time to clean and lubricate your reels, clean your rods and put new line on your reels. You may want to swap line from one reel to another if you want to save some money. The well-used or weak line is wound on to an empty reel. The unused line at the bottom of the spool is strong, new and has not seen the light of day.
We usually don't get spooled by giant fish on Lake Norman, so the line on the spool should be fine. If you only partly fill the spool, tie new line to the old and fill the spool. Remember a full spool on a spinning rod gives you the longest distance when you are casting.
If you fish with lures, now is the time to check your hooks to see if they are rusty or dull.
I like to change hooks instead of trying to sharpen the old ones. Some anglers that always catch and release are changing the treble hooks to single circle hooks to reduce injury to the fish.
If you are an inexperienced angler or are new to the area, Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shops hold various fishing clinics every month, and some of the local fishing clubs offer members and guests ongoing seminars and meetings to help you become a better angler.
A free seminar, "Introduction to Largemouth and Spotted Bass Fishing," by Gus Gustafson, is scheduled for Sept. 30 at Gander Mountain in Mooresville from 6:30 to 8 p.m. You will learn how to use live bait and lures to catch bass. Bass Pro Shops in Concord has several bass fishing seminars scheduled this fall through the end of the year. Pitching and flipping techniques are important for catching bass around docks and brush. Go online, or call the store for dates and times.
Don't miss this great time to relax, wet a line and catch a fish or two.