Author: Will Daniel
December Fishing (Lake Norman, NC)
While I am a saltwater guy at heart, the 1/3 of the year I am back home I spend chasing the bass of the local lakes. Mostly anyone who does a lot of bass fishing in the state of North Carolina has either heard of or fished the largest manmade lake in the state, Lake Norman, containing multitudes of spotted bass. Many anglers spend countless hours on this lake chasing after the very allusive big spotted bass, trying to beat the current lake record of almost 20 years, being 6.5lbs. The vast majority of the fish found here are small, with an average that I would say to be about a pound and a half. Even though this lake is loaded with spots, on days with perfect conditions they can be hard to find, making this a super challenging body of water to succeed on. I have been fortunate enough to catch a trophy spot here, weighing in at around 5lbs. In the process of catching this fish, I have figured out a few strategies to catching bigger fish, as well as figuring out strategies for loading up on small ones if you want to play the numbers game.
If you ask a Lake Norman angler where you should go to catch the most fish, especially in the winter, they will probably tell you to fish deep. While this strategy will more than likely get you a large quantity of fish in the boat, good luck hooking into something that weighs much more than a pound. However, if you do wish to fish for numbers and go deep in the winter, I recommend blade baits and other metal baits. They always do the trick for me for deepwater schooled up fish. Some good electronics on your boat are essential to catching these deep fish as well. To chase after a big fish, GO SHALLOW! This goes for warmer and winter months. My 5lb spot was caught in just 4 feet of water in the middle of the summer of all times along with a number of other fish over 3lbs around the same areas.
For targeting these fish in the summer, fishing from sunrise till about 1 pm is where your best bites will be. My big fish was caught just afternoon so there is definitely an afternoon bite. As for lures, always have a topwater popper tied in. In the morning, the spots and hybrid bass will come up and crush the shad on the surface, leading to some awesome topwater action anywhere on the lake. As for shallow fishing, look for coves with drop-offs at the mouth of them that come up to a depth of about 15-20ft. These ledges have the potential to hold some bigger fish. Then I would venture inside of the coves, flipping and pitching jigs and finesse worms at and between the docks. I found that most fish were under the docks, hugging the structure tightly. My go-to jig colors are black and blue and summer craw with a large profile while with finesse worms I go with Junebug, green pumpkin, and black depending on the lighting of the day. My rule usually is, the darker the day, the darker the color, with Junebug being my go-to color for any conditions. My 5lb fish was caught on an overcast day with a solid black worm. My jigs go on my baitcasting rod spooled up with 30lb Bullbuster braidwith a 15-20lb fluorocarbon leader. For my finesse worms, I go 10-15lb braid with a 12lb leader on a spinning rod.
For the much more difficult to fish winter months, going shallow for big fish is still the right decision. While I still target them around coves, I do it a little differently than in the summer as well as add some other strategies for catching the bigger fish. For fishing around coves, fish around any docks near the mouth of the cove leading to the main channel for your best chance as opposed to going all the way in the cove. The further you go into the cove, the less of a chance you have of getting a bite. Finesse worms are the only bait I am throwing in this situation. The other types of areas I am fishing are rocky points. I always use my trolling motor to move all around the point but have the most luck from either side of the point as opposed to fishing directly from the top of it. Here I am still throwing the same color finesses worms but also throw in some craw color square bill crankbaits. These crankbaits led to my friend catching multiple fish over 3lbs. Jerkbaits are also a good option anywhere to help snag some suspended fish.
While Lake Norman can be tough, it can be conquered, and big fish can be found in it. I hope this information helps anybody looking to target big spots on this lake, or just rack up the numbers of little ones to have a good time. Here is the picture of my trophy spot from this past summer along with some pictures from my most recent trip to Lake Norman in my new Key West 1520.
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