Photo Capt. Gus holds a Lake Norman spotted bass

With November’s cool weather and clear skies, Lake Norman anglers will experience some of the best fishing of the fall season. Sixty-degree water temperatures have caused bass, crappies and hybrids to go on a feeding binge. That trend should continue throughout the month.

Anglers who look for spotted bass will find plenty on the edges of channel points, where shaky-heads and Carolina rigged soft plastics are the baits of choice. Those who get an early start should have a top water lure rigged and ready to throw in case a school of hungry spots is chasing baitfish to the surface.

Fishermen targeting largemouth bass will sometimes find bigger ones under dredged docks and piers. These large fish are often caught by skip-casting soft plastics. Larger fish seem to hold in the toughest places to cast, so hang-ups are inevitable. When they aren’t feeding around wooden structures, try casting to submerged brush piles and downed trees.

Hybrid striped bass, introduced in recent years, are gaining quite a following, particularly now that some have grown to twenty inches of more. The easiest way to find them is to watch the water for surface feeding activity, then throw your favorite bass lure in that direction. Live baits, spoons and jigs fished vertically in the water column is also a productive way to take them, but just isn’t as exciting as casting to breaking fish.

Crappies have always been a fishermen’s favorite in November, especially with those who enjoy eating the catch. The fall stock seems to be getting bigger, with many exceeding fifteen inches in length. Even though submerged brush piles are the most popular places to catch “slab crappie”, boat houses, covered docks and bridges make a great second choice. Look for crappies in ten to twenty feet of water, and even shallower, as water temperatures move into the fifties. As is the case each fall, crappie minnows are the baits of choice around submerged brush pies, while colorful jigs work best when pitched under docks.

Anglers who want to enjoy a day’s fishing, with no particular species in mind, will catch a mixed bag by drifting live minnows and worms in any of Lake Norman’s shallow coves. To be on the safe side, in case a big catfish or bass should hit, bring a landing net to help flip your prize into the boat.

Hot Spots: Lots of white perch are in the river channel between Long Island Marina, south to Marker 18 and in Reed Creek between Marker D7 and D9. Hybrid striped bass are hitting surface lures at daylight in Mountain Creek and along the river channel from the Highway 150 Bridge, south to Marker 11. Best bets for spotted bass are river points, submerged islands and the McGuire Hot Hole.

Notice to Boaters: Lake Norman is approximately five feet below full pond. Following, are a few tips for boaters who feel uncomfortable navigating area lakes when water levels are considerably below summer highs:

  • When negotiating unfamiliar waters, refer to a topographic map or to your GPS.
  • Keep a watchful eye on the depth finder for sudden shoaling.
  • While underway, set the shallow water depth alarm to warn of low water.
  • Stay between the red and green day markers, where water is the deepest.
  • Be cautious when navigating near shoal markers which indicate nearby shallow water.

Tips from Capt. Gus: To check the lake level on Norman and other area lakes, call 1-800-829-5253 or visit Lake levels are updated every twenty minutes.

Upcoming Events: Free Fishing Seminar – “The Health of The Lake Norman Fishery” will be presented by Corey Oakley a NCWRC biologist. This ninety-minute session begins at 6:30 p.m. on November 16th at Gander Mountain, Exit 36 in Mooresville, NC. For additional information, contact Jake Bussolini at 704 201 8709.

Lake Conditions: Surface water temperatures are mainly in the high sixties and low seventies in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 5.0’ below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.4′ below on Mountain Island Lake.