The best spots to catch cold weather fish

Lake Norman’s 520 miles of shoreline provide ample habitats for fish to hide and thrive, but finding a good fishing hole in that much water is like finding a needle in a haystack.

The best places to fish vary by the season and the species. The following pointers may be helpful in locating some good spots to try.

• Bass – If it’s bass you’re after, Lake Norman has two hot water discharge channels that bass frequent during the colder months. One is adjacent to the nuclear plant in Huntersville and the other is off N.C. 150 in Terrell. Bank fishing at both “hot holes” is permitted in designated areas. Other popular places to cast for bass are boat docks. Any dock will hold bass from time to time, but during the winter, try those adjacent to the New Midway Marina at the 150 bridge on the Catawba side and at Morning Star Marina in Ramsey Creek.

• Striped Bass – During the winter months, stripers free roam the lake in search of schools of forage fish. Hicks, Stumpy and Reed creeks frequently produce nice catches. Stripers also can be caught from the hot holes (at either power plant), around bridge pilings and along the edges, ledges and drop-offs in the old river and creek channels.

• Catfish – Winter catfish tend to move to the warmest water they can find, so McCrary and Ramsey creeks are best bets. When water temperatures dip into the low 40s, the back of any major creek run can produce ice chests full of catfish. At these temperatures, fragile threadfin shad become stressed and die. Sea birds will herald the event by diving and dipping into the water as they pick up shad. Catfish will attack from below.

• Crappie – When fishing for crappie, any brush pile will do, but deeper is better during the winter. Other best bets are bridges. The N.C. 150 bridge at the Catawba River, the bridges at Williamson and Perth roads in Mooresville, and the bridge that spans the Old Catawba River Channel at Buffalo Shoals Road in Troutman are all frequented by crappie fishermen.

• White Perch – During the winter, large perch schools will concentrate in the old river channel and along creek runs. As water temperatures cool, they move from the shallows to depths of 50 to 70 feet. Other popular haunts are the same brush piles where you find crappie and around lighted boat docks after dark.

Tips from Capt. Gus

Savvy anglers drive the roads that trace the shoreline and the bridges that cross the lake, looking for diving sea birds. Then they launch their boat and fish the areas near the feeding birds.

Upcoming events

A free safe-boating class, entitled “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night,” will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 2 at North Point Watersports, 112 Doolie Road. Topics will include learning Lake Norman’s channel marker and buoy system, avoiding the 10 most dangerous spots and interpreting maps. Details: 704-617-6812 or

Hot spots of the week

Spotted bass are everywhere, but the best bet is the south hot hole. Try a variety of small artificial lures.

Striper fishing is improving as water temperatures cool. Terrapin and Mountain creeks are good places to start. Cat fishing is good to very good around boat docks and in back coves.

The lake level is 95.8 feet or 4.2 feet below full pond. The water surface temperature is in the low to mid-60s, depending on location and time of day.  q

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.lakenormanstriper Contact him at 704-617-6812 or

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