How fishermen find deep secrets

A bass taken on a spinner bait fished in deep water.

Fish, like people, live in different places.

While some folks set up house in the mountains, others live in the country or at the beach. Regardless, the biggest populations are in the cities and towns that dot our land.

Lake Norman has never conducted a house-to-house census of where fish dwell, but anglers know that fish – like people – find shelter in a variety of habitats.

Since the advent of modestly priced marine electronics, specifically sonar and GPS, fishermen are venturing farther and farther from the shoreline to locate and catch fish.

There was a time when the expression, “the fish are deep” meant they were hovering in water depths to 15 feet. Today, deep can be anywhere from 15 feet to any depth of water.

While many anglers cast the shorelines for their favorite species, a growing number seldom fish in water shallower than 20 feet. They believe their chances of catching a lot of fish are greater in deeper haunts.

Striper fishermen have been catching their quarry in the deep river and creek channels of Lake Norman and other Piedmont lakes for decades. Bass, perch and cat fishermen have joined them.

Anglers in brightly colored bass boats are deep jigging, drop shooting and casting big lipped crank baits on deep humps, edges, ledges and drops offs.

The key to locating underwater sanctuaries is easier than it appears¸ particularly if your boat is equipped with a fish finder/GPS. The topographic map loaded into the GPS shows underwater terrain features, and the fish finder confirms the presence of fish. When a likely spot is located, it only takes a push of the waypoint button to save the spot on the map to return at a later date.

Winter is a great time to fish for deep water bass, stripers and perch.

Expect to find your favorite species in creek runs to 90 feet of water. When suspended fish are located, they are usually hungry and easier to catch than those resting on the bottom.

Tips from Capt. Gus

Water-proof topographic maps show lake bottom contours and mirror the GPS map loaded in your boat’s electronics. Maps are a great tool for an angler to locate potential fishing areas before actually going on a fishing trip.

Upcoming events

• I will present “How to Safely Navigate Lake Norman Using Sonar and GPS,” at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19, at North Point Watersports, 112 Doolie Road. Bring your questions and instruction books to the free, 90-minute seminar. Details: 704-799-1994.

• Jake Bussolini and I will present “How to Catch Fish Using Sonar and GPS” at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at Gander Mountain, 236 Norman Station Blvd., Mooresville. Bring your questions and instruction books to the free 90-minute seminar. Details: 704 658 0822.

Hot spots of the week

For those tough enough to weather the cold temperatures, bass, stripers and perch are biting around lighted docks at night.

Otherwise, spotted bass are in most major creeks, while stripers are taking live baits in the river channel north of the N.C. 150 bridge and in Stumpy and Reed creeks.

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 Contact him at 704-617-6812 or

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