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Fishing Forecast: Limit catches of spotted bass reported at Lake Norman

Despite very high water brought on by almost a week of rain, fishing generally remains good on the Piedmont lakes.

Lake Norman’s largemouth and spotted bass appear to offer the best shot for action during the next few days, with limit catches reported. The fish are right along the shoreline, feeding on spawning shad. They’re striking practically all types of light-colored lures that simulate shad – crank, jerk and swim baits, along with swimming jigs.

“If you can’t catch bass right now on Lake Norman, you might as well sell your fishing tackle and take up golf,” long-time fisherman Boots Beasley of Mooresville said Tuesday.

Crappie also are biting well, with lakes Norman, Tillery, Wateree, Wylie and Badin the most consistent producers.

The crappie are gathered in the shallows around shoreline cover, piers and bridge pilings, taking both jigs and minnows.

Lake Norman: Hybrids are hitting well, taking live baits worked around 15 feet deep on flats. Good for catfish 5-30 feet down on cut baits.

Lake Wylie: Good for catfish uplake on cut baits fished 35 feet deep.

Union County lakes: Catfish and crappie at all four impoundments – Cane Creek Park, Lee, Monroe and Twitty. Best the past few days at Cane Creek and Lee.

Yadkin/Pee Dee River lakes: Good for crappie the length of the chain – High Rock, Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls. Badin and Tillery stand out. American shad in the tailrace at the Blewett Falls Dam, where a catwalk affords anglers access to cast Sabiki rigs and Shad Darts to the fish spawning from the sea. Catfish and even some crappie in the river below the tailrace.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Continuing good for crappie, mainly on minnows, at all three reservoirs on the upper Catawba River. Action is fair to good for smallmouth bass at James and for largemouth at Rhodhiss and Hickory.

Rankin Lake: Very good for crappie and largemouth at the Gastonia municipal reservoir.

Hampton Lake: Excellent for crappie at the impoundment in Yadkin Memorial Park near Yadkinville.

Fontana Lake: Excellent for smallmouth and spotted bass, with some largemouth mixed in, on shiners, floating artificial worms and tube jigs cast right against the shoreline.

Lake Wateree: Very good for crappie 4-10 feet deep along the banks, around docks and bridge pilings. Very good for catfish, moving uplake and into the backs of creeks to spawn. The catfish bite is best in a bit of current on cut gizzard shad.

Lake Thurmond: Fair to good for surface-feeding striped bass in schools on topwater lures, bucktails and live herring.

Lake Murray: Surprisingly slow.

Santee Cooper Lakes: Good for crappie in relatively shallow cover and for bream, staging to spawn, around brush 18-30 feet deep on crickets.

Lake Hartwell: Good for stripers and hybrids lake-wide over the points on free-lined live herring. Fair for spawning largemouth around shoreline rocky areas and shallow clay points.

Lake Keowee: Largemouth and spotted bass around points on artificial worms, flukes.

Lake Jocassee: Good for spotted bass and smallmouth on crawdad-type lures fished on sandy flats.

Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Improving for whiting at piers and in the surf; Oregon Inlet: Blackfin and yellowfin tuna offshore, along with a few dolphin, when sea conditions are favorable, plus a 230-pound bigeye tuna boated over the weekend; Hatteras Island: Good to excellent offshore for blackfin tuna and an increasing number of dolphin. Very good for red drum in Pamlico Sound. Blowtoads, blues, scattered trout and whiting in the surf, along with about a dozen trophy-sized red drum to 47 inches during the weekend at Cape Point. Blues to 5 pounds at the Point and Hatteras Inlet; Ocracoke Island: Fair to good for black drum blowtoads, blues and whiting in the surf. Scattered reds in the surf; Morehead City area: Atlantic bonito and false albacore on the east side of the Cape Lookout Shoals. Bonito at the artificial reefs. Blackfin and yellowfin tuna, plus wahoo, offshore when sea conditions are decent. Good at piers for black drum, blowtoads, blues, whiting and even early pompano.

Southeastern N.C. Coast: Black drum, red drum and a few flounder in the surf, at piers and in the backwaters. Blowtoads and whiting at piers. Continuing speckled trout at Oak Island and other piers from dawn to mid-morning. Blackfin and yellowfin tuna offshore, along with wahoo, at areas known as the Steeples and Blackjack Hole. The spring’s first Spanish mackerel have arrived inshore.

S.C. Coast: Little River area: Good for blues, along with croaker and whiting; Grand Strand area: Spanish mackerel are starting to show. Black drum, sheepshead at the Murrells Inlet and Georgetown jetties. Improving for flounder in the backwaters. Fair to good offshore for blackfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Blues and whiting at the piers; Charleston area: Blackfins and wahoo offshore. Reds in the backwaters at the mouths of creeks, around docks and on shallow flats during low tide. A few trout to 5 pounds in the backwaters; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Whiting in the surf.

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