October is a cool month to enjoy Lake Norman. Hopefully, the weather will be a refreshing relief from the hot summer we’ve just experienced. More importantly for anglers is that water temperatures will be cooler and fish will become more active and hungry.
Each fall, fishing gets better with the passing of every weather front. Cooler water also causes forage fish (shad and herring) to move to the shallows where they become prey for predators. As the month progresses, fish will move to the back of major creeks, over shallow points and around man-made fish attractors.
Throughout the month, spotted bass will be splashing on the surface as they feast on forage fish. The commotion caused during these feeding frenzies causes quite a disturbance and alerts anglers to the area. Hopefully, this summer’s fish kill wasn’t as bad as many fear and that enough stripers survived to join the fray of hungry spotted bass.
On most days, surface feeding occurs early and late. As the month comes to an end, larger fish will join the buffet.
Anglers with spinning rods will cast bucktails, roadrunners, spoons, flukes and top water lures toward the splashing bass and stripers. Since unexpected surface action can erupt at any time, it is a good idea to have at least one rod per angler pre-rigged with a casting lure.
By mid-October, fishing becomes more predictable as the fish settle into a fall feeding pattern. Savvy anglers will fish the surface breaks early and switch to casting the banks or pulling live baits throughout the day. Live bait fishermen appear in large numbers this month because shad and herring are easier to catch and keep alive than when the water was warmer. Those using live baits are usually targeting stripers, while those fishing with artificial lures are attempting to trick bass into taking their hooks.
If you aren’t hunting in the woods on a cool October morning, join me on Lake Norman. I’ll be hunting for stripers and spotted bass.
Hot spot of the week:
As bass and smallish stripers leave the main river channel, good fishing locations become more numerous, particularly in the large creek runs that feed the main channel. The best bets are above the N.C. 150 Bridge are Hicks Creek, which flows through the Lake Norman State Park, and in Rocky and Stumpy creeks. Anglers casting and trolling below N.C. 150 will find fish in Mountain, Hagar and Reed creeks. Spotted bass are the October fish of choice for Lake Norman anglers. Reports of boats catching and releasing dozens of spots are common. While most are small, there are so many of them, that they are lots of fun to catch. Mac Byrum reports that catfish are hitting cut bait slow trolled in water less than 20 feet deep. White perch are plentiful for drifting small minnows or deep jugging Sabiki rigs.
Black bass, striper creel size limits
The creel limit is five black bass (spotted or largemouth) in aggregate, that must be 14 inches or longer.
An exception to the rule is that two of any size can be a part of the creel limit. This exception was made to allow anglers to keep and eat the smaller fish that might have been hooked so deeply, they would die anyway when released.
The size limit for striped bass is 16 inches on Lake Norman now through June 30, 2011. The creel limit is four fish per angler per day.
Mac Byrum and Jake Bussolini will conduct a free 90-minute fishing seminar, called “Winter Catfishing: How to Catch Big Cats on Cold Days” at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at Gander Mountain, 236 Norman Station Blvd. Details: 704-658-0822.
Tips from Capt. Gus
October’s conditions are right for fish and fishermen alike. Dress for the day, and enjoy the cool temperatures and beautiful fall colors. The lake level is about 4.4 feet below full pond and the water surface temperature is in the mid- to high 70s.
Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. His website is www.fishingwith
gus.com. Contact him at 704-617-6812 or Gus@LakeNorman.com.