These feisty cousins of the small and largemouth bass have found a home on Lake Norman and other Piedmont impoundments. Over the past fifteen years or so, they have become so plentiful that they are winning the competition with largemouth and others for food and space. In fact, at times, they occupy the same waters that much larger striped bass once dominated.
Spotted bass get their name from the numerous dark spots that cover the lower side of their body. This streamlined member of the black bass family is also identified by a rough patch on its tongue. The sandpaper like patch is used to hold crayfish in place while they crush the shell before swallowing.
On Lake Norman spotted bass, known as spots, can be found all over the lake, but the largest concentration is in the deep water at the south end. In deep water, they roam freely in large schools, and stop frequently to ravish pods of shad and herring. As with striped bass, once a feeding school has been found, spots can be caught on every cast until the frenzy subsides.
There was a time when bass fishing was only for those who cast from the front of a sleek bass boat equipped with a bow mounted trolling motor and fish finder. Today, limits of spotted bass are caught regularly by children casting from the shoreline, off boat docks and anglers fishing from the stern of a pleasure boat.
While the same artificial lures used to catch largemouth bass will tempt spots, a surprisingly large number are caught on live minnows by non-tournament fishermen. Some use a bobber rig, while others have great success with a simple split shot above a hook. Those who prefer not to fish with live bait can troll shad raps or rattle traps behind a slow moving boat in water to fifteen feet deep.
Boats equipped with sonar and GPS find large schools of spotted bass around edges, ledges and drop offs, as well as bridge pilings, deep brush and manmade fish attractors. Depending on how deep the spots are feeding, they can be tempted to strike top-water lures, crank-baits, jigs, spoons and a variety of soft plastics.
As a rule, spotted bass are smaller than largemouth. Most are twelve to sixteen inches in length and weigh a pound or two, but there are larger ones out there. Lake Norman yielded the state record to Eric Weir in December of 2003 when he landed a 6.5 pounder using a finesse worm.
The size and creel limit is the same for both largemouth and spotted bass. (Five black bass in combination – Example: two spotted bass and three largemouth’s), all of which must be fourteen inches in length. The exception being Lake Norman where two fish may be less than fourteen inches.
Tips from Capt. Gus:
- When using live minnows for spotted bass, give the fish a few seconds to swallow the bait.
- Since spotted bass feed in schools, expect to catch more than one per location.
- Spotted bass are easily tempted to strike noisy top water lures. Best bets are whopper plopper’s, buzz baits and Zara Spooks.
- Like largemouth bass, spots are attracted to dock lights after dark.
Spotted bass are one of Capt. Gus’ favorites, particularly when they are hitting topwater. Call 704-617-6812 or book your trip online today for a great day of bass fishing.
Lake Norman has 520 miles of shore line and 32,000 surface acres of water. Popular bass haunts are boat docks, points, humps, rip-rap, bridge pilings, submerged road beds, backs of creeks and the two hot water discharge chutes associated with the power stations.
The single most popular place to fish for bass on Lake Norman is the hot water discharge at the McGuire Nuclear Station (L-3). A second discharge chute associated with the Marshall Steam Plant, south of the Highway 150 Bridge and immediately north of marker 15 (J-17) is fished heavily as well. Both “hot holes” are full of smallish shad, causing bass to be picky. Light line, four/six pound test, combined with drop shot rigs, four inch flukes or worms, small spoons and even crappie jigs trailed behind larger lures get a lot of action. Bass will surface feed throughout the day. Activity depends on the amount of water flow and the degree of cloud cover. The smaller fish feed on the surface while the large bass suspend lower in the water column. As with the rest of the lake, white, chartreuse, and shad colored baits are popular with bass fishermen.
Ramsey Creek at the lakes lower end and McCrary Creek south of Highway 150 are warmer than most creek arms, since they are both affected by the warm water discharges. The hot hole effect in these creeks is most noticeable when the wind has been blowing from the west and west south west for a few days. Ramsey (L-4) is the more popular of the two warm water creeks. It has a combination of sandy banks, rock piles, long shallow points, under water humps and roadbeds. Try fishing the areas in Ramsey identified with by the red numbers 17, 16, 22, 26, 2, 28 on the Atlantic Mapping G.P.S. of Lake Norman.
Parallel fish the rip-rap at Cowans Ford Dam and the area near red numbers 1 and 8 as well as the rocks around green marker 1 at the rivers lower end. More spotted bass than largemouth will be taken in this area of the lake. Marker A1 (currently missing) is on the end of a very long point that juts out into the lake and holds fish throughout the year.
Reed and Davidson Creeks are the homes of many long clay points that touch the creek channels. Each is easily found on your topo map. The shoal and points associated with channel markers D3, D4, D7, D8 and D10 and D11 hold both largemouth and spots. T markers, 2 and 4 in Davidson Creek hold both species as well. Humps identified with red numbers 113, 108, 107, 140, 191, 156, and 161 vary in depth from less that fifteen feet to twenty-five or so. The area between Williamson Road and Interstate I-77 (east of red number 420) is a breeding ground for shad. Spring bass frequent its sandy banks and the brush piles placed against the rip-rap on each side of I-77. The boat docks in both creeks regularly hold bass.
Stained (muddy) water is generally found in the backs of Reed, Mountain, and McCrary Creeks after a rain. Above the Highway 150 Bridge stained water can be found in Cornelius, Stumpy and Terrapin Creeks. The water temperatures tend to drop as you go up river.
The shallows near markers M1, M2 in Mountain Creek are the site of early morning bass feeding activity. A road bed identified by red number 254 has great definition and holds bunches of largemouth at times. The first cove past the roadbed and on the right, is loaded with Christmas Trees, a thousand or more dot the small cove. There is a large brown boat house on the left side as you enter the mine field of tress. As Mountain Creek narrows down, near red number 405, the boat docks on either side hold quality fish when conditions are right. The area beyond the narrows, opens into a mud flat with the old creek run wandering thru it (406). This entire are is a major breeding ground for river shiners and threadfin shad. The back of Terrapin Creek, on the west side of the river channel, and above the 150 Bridge, also narrows and dumps into a flat before being blocked by Molly’s Backbone Road.
The further north you fish the more blown downs you will be able to fish. The east bank of the river channel from marker 19 north to marker 25 has plenty of fallen trees to cast to by Lake Norman standards. The lake begins turning into a river north of marker 25 and the Buffalo Shoals Rd. Bridge. The river has sandy shoals, rocky banks as well as several bridges and numerous feeder creeks. The bass tend to be larger up river, but not as plentiful. They feed best when the current is flowing, on some days it doesn’t run at all. The power company doesn’t provide a schedule has to when it releases water from Lookout Shoals Dam. Boaters are warned to exercise caution above Buffalo Shoals Road.
Capt. Gus can lead you to largemouth bass on Lake Norman. Call 704-617-6812 or book your trip online today for a fabulous fishing adventure with Capt.
Book a trip with Capt. Gus! Choose the date you wish to go fishing, the trip length, and the number of people in your fishing trip. Schedule your trip and pay online!