Photo of Toby Gustafson holding a Florida bass caught on a recent trip to the Everglades

With the beginning of a new fishing season, let’s focus on a few ideas that might improve the number of fish you catch. Start by cleaning out, re-organizing and replenishing the contents of your tackle boxes. Clean and lubricate reels and replace old line. Inspect and repair fishing rods, as needed, and be sure that line guides and rod tips are tight and smooth to the touch.

When fishing is slow, successful anglers down-size fishing outfits, line and bait, because “smaller is better”, particularly on Lake Norman were shad and herring are not as large as forage fish in other area lakes. Also, some believe that predator fish are more likely to eat a snack (small bait), than a meal (large bait) when resting or inactive.

Veteran anglers have learned that finding fish is far more important than continuously switching lures. They use a few “go to” baits” while trying to determine the pattern of the day. The baits they use to probe the water column are pre-tied to fishing rods and placed on the boat’s casting platform or in rod holders for quick access.

Lake Norman’s baitfish are colored shades of silver and black. When motionless, they appear almost invisible to predators, but as they move about, the shiny flashes of their scales give them away. Silver sided lures with black markings, chartreuse, blue, green and crawfish are all colors that LKN fish prefer.

Lake Norman is a relatively deep body of water where stripers, hybrids, bass, perch and catfish spend considerable time near on or near the bottom in water from twenty to sixty feet deep. In 2016, spend some time probing deep humps, drop offs and brush piles, all likely spots when fishing is slow.

Upcoming events: 

Free Fishing Seminar: “How Marine Electronics Have Reshaped the Sport of Fishing”   will be presented by Jake Bussolini at Gander Mountain, Exit 36 on March 16, 2016 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Contact 704-658-0822 for additional information.

Hot Spots of the Week:

The Hot Spots of the Week are the warm waters near the Marshall Steam Plant (Marker 15), where bass, stripers and schools of white perch are feeding on baitfish that have taken up residence to avoid colder waters.

Tips from Capt. Gus: 

If you need rod or reel service, contact Frank Parsons at Tackle Town (704 483 1007) 4705 Cousin Lane, Maiden, NC 28650. He will clean, repair and restore your fishing tackle to a like-new condition at a reasonable price.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the high forties and low fifties in open waters not affected by the power plants. The water level is about 3.0′ below full pond on Lake Norman and 2.6′ below on Mountain Island Lake.

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 web site, or call 704-617-6812. For additional information, e-mail him at