Capt. Gus holds a Lake Norman Spotted Bass
Photo courtesy of Capt. Gus

Every sport has a language of its own and bass fishing is no different. Some of the terminology and slang used by bass anglers is explained below.

Lunker – Lunker is a word used frequently to describe a very large bass. Depending on location, a lunker can weigh from four to twenty pounds.

Leaping Lunker – This is a slang term for a very large bass that jumps from the water in an attempt to throw the hook. The fact that a bass leaps high, and shakes its head violently, is one of the biggest reasons the sport of bass fishing is so popular.

Black Bass – Black bass are the most revered species of freshwater fish. Three species common in North Carolina are: the largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. Largemouth and spots are caught in Lake Norman; smallmouth bass live in mountain lakes and rivers.

Bedding – The male bass makes a nest in shallow water by swishing his tail to clear the silt on the lake bottom. The round, light-colored clearing that forms, is the nest where the female deposits her eggs. Fishermen search out these bass beds and cast lures to tempt the fish to strike.

Size Limit – The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) determines the minimum length of fish, in inches, that a fish must measure in order to keep. For black bass, the statewide limit is generally fourteen inches.

Creel Limit – A creel is a small wicker basket used to hold fish. Fish are dropped into an opening at the top of the basket. A creel limit is the number of one species of fish that can be kept per angler per day. The creel limit of black bass is a combination of five largemouth, smallmouth and/or spotted.

Fishing Line – The string-like material used to connect the fish hook to the rod and reel. Monofilament line is, by far, the most popular. It is made from a single strand of plastic and is available in various lengths and breaking strengths (pound test). Braided (spider line), a multi-strand line, is fast becoming the line of choice for bass anglers. It stretches very little and is thinner in diameter, while comparable in strength to monofilament line.

Bass Fishing Lures – There are several main categories of bass lures.

  • Top Water – Lures that float or swim on the surface and make noise to attract the attention of the fish.
  • Swim Baits – Lures that swim, suspend or dive, when jerked, at various depths in the water column.
  • Bottom Bouncers – Lures that bounce, bump or float on or near the bottom. Soft plastic worms, buck tails and jigging spoons are popular with local fishermen.

Popular Lures

  • Buzz Bait – A top-water lure with blades that spin when pulled through the water.
  • Crank Bait – A lure with a plastic lip that swims to a specific depth when retrieved. The larger the lip, the deeper it swims.
  • Soft Plastics – Any type of worm, lizard, or minnow look-alike made of plastic. Soft plastics come in countless colors, shapes, sizes and flavors.
  • Tackle Box – Usually a plastic box designed to hold fishing lures. The box is semi-water proof and small enough to be transported and stowed in a boat.

Bass Boat – Usually a sixteen to twenty-one-foot boat designed primarily for bass fishing. This low sided and very sleek vessel is equipped with pedestal seats, state of the art electronics, a foot operated electric trolling motor and a large outboard motor to quickly take the fishermen to the next fishing hole.

Trolling Motor – A small motor, usually mounted on the bow of the boat, and controlled by the foot of the angler sitting on the forward pedestal seat. Trolling motors are operated by one, two or three, twelve-volt batteries. An electric motor is very quiet and maneuverable. It allows fishermen to get within easy casting distance of fish without scaring them away.

Power Pole – A hydraulic device that holds the boat in place in shallow water without dropping an anchor. The power pole is mounted on the stern of the boat, away from the angler casting from the bow. Power poles cost upwards of three thousand dollars, but anglers believe the pole’s ease of operation makes the cost worthwhile.

Bait Casting Tackle – A fishing rod and reel used by bass fishermen who want to cast with accuracy and have the cranking power to pull a trophy bass out of heavy cover. Unlike the push button, spin casting reels which do not tangle, a bait casting reel will snarl (backlash), if not used properly.

Spinning Tackle – The most popular rod and reel combination used by bass fishermen. The line spins off a fixed spool effortlessly, and allows for long, tangle-free casts when using relatively light lures.

Terminal Tackle – The hooks, swivels, weights, floats and miscellaneous other items needed to catch fish.

Landing Net – A hoop shaped net attached to a long handle that is used to land bass and other fish. Netting material varies, but fish-friendly rubber netting is gaining popularity. Unlike monofilament or nets made of cord, rubber nets do not bruise fish or rub away the slime. Rubber landing nets are fishermen friendly, as well, since hooks do not tangle in the webbing.

Tips from Gus:
Adjust the line drag before every fishing trip. This is particularly important when fishing for big bass, stripers and catfish. They will stretch the line to its breaking point, so set the drag to about half of the line’s breaking strength.


October Fishing Forecast:
Spotted and hybrid striped bass will be surface feeding off main channels and back coves above and below the Highway 150 Bridge. Long points that extend well into the lake are the areas most frequented by anglers searching for hungry bass. The Reed Creek arm of Lake Norman, south from The New Stutts Landing to the confluence of the Catawba River, is among the most popular area for surface feeding action. The mouth of Ramsey Creek and the islands north of the State Park are other areas where significant surface feeding will occur on most October mornings.

Along with the bass, crappie, catfish and perch will also move to shallower water, which makes them easier to catch. Mountain Creek is a popular area for crappie. Minnows, “dunked” around brush piles or near deep water boat docks, will produce nice stringers of this popular pan fish. Note: The daily creel limit is twenty crappies per angler per day, with an 8″ minimum.

October’s weather can be summer-like one day and feel like winter the next. Fishing is best during low pressure and rainy periods that precede a cold front. If your schedule is flexible, plan to fish before the weather clears.

October is a great month to take a child fishing.

See you out there!


Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an Outdoor Columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his website at or call 704-617-6812.