Close up of hybrid striped bass.
Photo courtesy of Capt. Gus
October kicks off another fall fishing season and this year is expected to be a gangbuster.
Largemouth and spotted bass always take center stage, but hybrid striped bass are making a comeback and will add a new level of excitement to the fishing scene. Hybrids began showing up in mid-September, when water temperatures dipped into the seventies. Since then, they are being caught regularly in Mountain Creek, the State Park and upriver as far north as the I-40 Bridge.
The majority of catches have been at sunrise, when most anglers aren’t on the lake. But, the thrill of seeing the hybrids surface while feeding on baitfish, makes it worth getting up before breakfast! The bite doesn’t last long, but it’s not uncommon to catch a dozen or more before the feeding period ends. Best baits to use are casting spoons, bucktail jigs, top water poppers and small-to-medium size crank baits.
The majority of feeding activity is in and around river and channel points, where water depths change rapidly from deep to shallow. Markers 20 and 19 upriver and marker M1 in Mountain Creek are good places to begin the day. Savvy anglers are constantly scanning the surface in hopes of finding breaking fish. When in range, they make long
casts, careful not to spook the school, while trying to bullseye the most recent surface swirl. Hybrids hit hard and fight even harder, so set the drag on your reel to less than fifty percent of the line’s breaking strength.
Hybrid striped bass and white perch share a similar profile, and their silver/grey color makes it difficult to identify them. To make matters worse, both have lateral lines. The difference is that the lines on the white perch are faint, while the lines on the hybrid are bolder and often broken in appearance. The legal-size limit for hybrids on Lake Norman is sixteen inches, with a creel limit of four in combination with striped bass. White perch, do not have a size or creel limit.
Tips from Gus:
When surface feeding and bass are finicky, attach a trailer to a top water lure. Small “Ice Flies” and “Lit’l Fishies” are popular lure trailers.
September Fishing Forecast: Bass will be active in all major creek arms this month, but the best fishing will be in the creeks that hold the biggest schools of bait fish. Good starting spots are Terrapin and Stumpy Creeks on the north side of the Highway 150 Bridge and Mountain and Davison Creek at the southern end of the lake.
Tournament anglers, and those who target fewer, but bigger bass, will spend a lot of time skip-casting soft plastics under docks and piers. Larger fish seem to hold in the toughest places to cast a lure, so hang-ups are inevitable. Other popular haunts for big bass in October are submerged brush piles, downed trees and bridge pilings.
Live bait fishermen know that drifting shad and bass minnows over points and in back coves can be quite productive during the fall. The use of multiple rods, not only increases the odds of catching fish, but allows baits to be suspended at various levels in the water column.
- Free Fishing Seminar – “Get Up to Speed on Sonar Images” – Jake Bussolini will conduct this ninety-minute seminar beginning at 6:30 p.m. on October 19th at the Lake Norman Volunteer Fire Dept., 1518 Brawley School Rd., Mooresville, NC. For additional information, contact Jake at 704-201-8709.
Lake Norman’s water level is about 3.5′ below full pond. The surface water temperature is in the low eighties in water not affected by power generation.
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 www.FishingWithGus.com or call 704-617-6812.