Lake Norman & Mooresville

Fishing: Adjust strategies when seeking big bass

Have you ever wondered why some anglers catch big bass month after month while others seldom hook even one?

According to professional bass fisherman Ben Parker, “If you want to catch trophy bass, stay off the beaten path.”

Simply stated, fish places where few, if any, anglers ever fish. Many of Parker’s best “big bass spots” are near isolated stickups, remote stumps and rocks on otherwise barren shorelines.

To locate such structures, he always wears polarized glasses that allow him see the bottom in shallow water. When deep-water fishing, he depends on electronics to help locate rock piles, undercut banks, drop-offs, humps and isolated debris scattered across the lake bottom, then marks the spot with a waypoint on his GPS unit.

Like others on the tournament trail, Parker doesn’t target schooling bass feeding on the surface, because they lack the body weight to produce a winning stringer. These lean and mean fighters spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy chasing down forage.

Big bass tend to be loners that don’t spend a lot of time or energy chasing small forage fish. Instead, they feed on bream, crappie and other game fish.

They leave their schooling brethren early on to set up housekeeping in places where boat traffic and fishing pressure is light. Their habitat usually provides the cover to allow them to ambush unsuspecting prey without exerting a great amount of energy.

The best fishing holes usually are hard-to-locate submerged brush, rock piles and stump fields adjacent to deep water. It’s true big bass are taken around docks, piers and boat houses, but it takes a bit of practice to skip-cast lures all the way back and under such structures without tangling.

As a rule, popular places where everybody fishes – like the helicopter pad at creek channel marker R1 or the point at river channel Marker 8 – are great places to catch bass up to a pound or two, but seldom will you find trophy-size fish. These spots are fished hard, particularly on weekends.

Not everyone has the time or wherewithal to find the big-bass haunts. So try the docks and surrounding water adjacent to the lake’s most popular tournament weigh-in sites. This is where the bass are released after each event, and most don’t seem to stray very far.

After dark, lighted boat docks are easy to find and often attract big bass. Like possums, the biggest bass prowl after midnight, so don’t stop fishing too early.

Upcoming events

Free safe-boating class: “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be the topic at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd. in Cornelius, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 13. Becky Johnson and I will cover topics that include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “The 10 Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley, 704-892-7575.

Free fishing seminar: “Bank and Dock Fishing for Sunfish, White Perch, Catfish and Bass” will be discussed at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20. Jake Bussolini and I will cover fishing with cane poles, hooks and bobbers, and how to use live and cut baits. Suggestions will be given for the best places to fish from shore and where the white perch are biting. Bring the entire family. Details: 704-658-0822.

Tip from Capt. Gus

When night fishing, tape a flashlight just above the hoop of your landing net.

Hot spots of the week

White perch are plentiful between main channel markers 23 and 24 above the N.C. 150 bridge and on either side of the river channel between markers 14 and 17A. Bass are hitting a variety of artificial lures on channel points. Best bets are Reed, Davidson and Mountain Creek.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the 80s in open waters not affected by power generation.

The water level is about 1.4 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 2.8 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.