Anglers willing to brave frigid waters will find plenty of bass, perch, hybrids and stripers in the Ramsey, Reed, Mountain, McCrary and Stumpy creek arms of the lake throughout January.
Ramsey is a large creek at the lower end of Lake Norman, bordered on the east and south by N.C. 73 and easily accessible by boat from Blythe Landing, in Huntersville. Since it is warmed by the heated discharge waters of the McGuire Nuclear Power Station, it is one of the best places to fish during the winter. Good spots to begin the day are the riprapped shorelines adjacent to Marker R1 and at the submerged Beatties Ford roadbed that connects the islands south of Marker R2.
Reed Creek, which meanders in front of the new Stutts Marina, should be renamed Spotted Bass Creek. Its submerged roadbeds, long points and underwater humps are magnets for some of the largest schools of spotted bass in Lake Norman. In addition, expect to find blue catfish and white bass lurking in the deep waters at the mouth of Davidson Creek.
Mountain Creek is a short boat ride from the access areas at Hager and Little creeks. This deep tributary is a major breeding ground for forage fish, so many game fish are taken from its docks and feeder streams during January.
McCrary Creek can be awesome, particularly when a west wind is blowing warm water its way from the Marshall Steam Station. Bass, hybrids and a few stripers roam the length of McCrary and its secondary feeder creeks. For starters, try the shallows at the back end of McCrary at daylight and its deeper waters around midday.
If you launch from the Stumpy Creek Boat Access, do not stray far. This creek produces fish year-round, but especially when the water is cold. Try Marker B3, directly across from the boat ramp. Fish will also locate around the riprap and pilings at the Perth Road bridge and near the small island (Gold Mine Island) to the east of the bridge.
Quick drops in water temperatures often cause massive threadfin shad kills. Dying and stressed forage fish attract predator fish and seabirds, so be on the lookout for low flying sea birds, particularly in shallow coves. Cold water shad kills can last for days.
Note: The Lake Norman fish consumption warning for striped bass, issued by N.C. health officials April 9, 2013, is still in effect. This advisory warns that “levels of PCBs have been found in striped bass in Lake Norman that exceed the state action level for PCBs of 0.05 mg/kg.” Because previous studies have shown that largemouth bass in all waters of North Carolina have elevated levels of mercury, this advisory includes largemouth bass as well.
So what does the consumption warning mean to the average fisherman? Nothing, if “catch and release” is practiced. However, if you’re among the many who eat striped and largemouth bass, the following warning should be adhered to in its entirety: “Pregnant or nursing women, women who may become pregnant, and children under age 15 should not eat any striped bass or largemouth bass from Lake Norman. To guard against mercury exposure and potential PCB exposure, other people should not eat more than two meals a month of largemouth bass and one meal a week of striped bass from Lake Norman. A meal of fish is considered approximately six (6) ounces of uncooked fish.” For additional information, visit www.ncdhhs.gov.
Free fishing seminar: In “Using Sonar, Down Scan, Structure Scan and GPS To Catch More Fish In 2015,” Jake Bussolini and I will discuss the theory and practical application of locating and landing fish with the aid of electronics. This 90-minute session will begin 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, in Mooresville. For information, call 704 658 0822.
Striped and hybrid striped bass on Lake Norman have a minimum size limit of 16 inches and a creel limit of four in combination. For information about size and creel limits, visit www.ncwildlife.org.
The water level on Lake Norman is about 2.9 feet below full pond and is 2.7 feet below on Mountain Island Lake. The surface water temperature is in the high 40s and low 50s in water not affected by power generation.