Spring is the best time of the year to fish on Lake Norman.
Fish are spawning. Fish are hungry. They’re plentiful, too.
Lake Norman offers opportunity for all types of fishermen, from experienced anglers who can zip from cove to open water in boats, or feet-on-the-ground beginners who want to sink a line from a pier, bridge or shoreline.
The most common fish in Lake Norman are striper, largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, perch and catfish (blue, flathead and channel). As the weather warms, so does the action in the water.
“The bass and crappie are biting very good right now,” said Capt. Craig Price, a guide for Fish On! Lake Norman Guide Service. “The stripers aren’t biting as well as in past years, but they are around.”
Price said fish move to deeper water as the water temperature rises from the low 50s to the low 70s. Shallower water is warmer water, so now fish are likely to be closer to the banks of creeks. The fish also follow forage (the food they eat), so using shad and herring as bait is recommended. Those and several other types of live baits are available at bait shops that are prevalent around Lake Norman.
Price said a good strategy is to fish shallow water that’s next to deep water, such as a point, near a water pump or a flat. The shallow water allows fish to chase forage, and the nearby deeper water offers them safety.
Price also recommends using live bait, when possible, instead of artificial.
“It’s a lot easier to feed them than to trick them,” he said.
Perch, crappie and bream (collectively known as “pan fish”) make great baits, Price said.
The islands adjacent to, and those just north of Lake Norman State Park usually are productive locations. Work the main river channel for best results.
On the southern end of the lake, Reed Creek and Davidson Creek produce lots of fish. Many anglers work Mountain Creek, on the western end of Lake Norman. Cowans Ford Dam is a popular spot, too. It’s near the northern end of Mountain Island Lake.
Other decent locations are the bridges that cross the rivers and creeks.
“There aren’t a lot of hard structures on the lake, which attract fish,” Price said. “So, piers, docks and bridges are where you can almost always find fish. It’s really the only shade (for fish).”
Price said adventurous fishermen can search for brush piles along shorelines that offer cover for fish. Live bait is always best, but if you use an artificial lure, the soft plastic varieties are recommended.
“Worms and lizards are time-proven winners,” Price said.
Fishermen also have had success with crank baits and top-water lures. They work best early in the day or late in the evening, when fish most often feed. The lures are available in almost every color imaginable, but bright red and chartreuse often work well.
CREEL LIMITS and FISHING LICENSES
Species Minimum size limit Daily limit
Crappie 8” 20
Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass Largemouth and spotted bass; 14-inch minimum, except two that may be less than 14 inches 5
Striped Bass and Bodie Bass Oct. 1-May 31: 16-inch minimum. June 1-Sept. 30: No minimum 4
White bass None 25
Walleye 15-inch minimum 8
Catfish None None
Bream None None
Carp None None
White Perch None None
Source: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
• Anyone age 16 or older is required to have a valid fishing license. Licenses can be purchased at most area bait shops and at department stores that sell bait and tackle, on line at www.ncwildlife.org, by phone at 888-248-6834, or by mail at N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1751 Varsity Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606.??
• There are no closed seasons for any type of fish in Lake Norman, so you can catch anything at any time of the year.
BEST SPOTS TO FISH IF YOU DON’T HAVE A BOAT
• Lake Norman State Park (Troutman), which has a fishing pier and designated fishing areas on the bank.
• Marshall Steam Station (Terrell), where there’s a designated fishing area n the bank.
• McGuire Nuclear Station (Huntersville), which includes a pier and designated fishing area on the bank.
• Ramsey Creek Park (Cornelius), which has a pier.
TYPES OF FISH IN LAKE NORMAN
The most common species are: