Fishing Guide - Fishing Tips for Lake Norman, NC


Fishing is a favorite pastime on Lake Norman. For a lot of people just being on the water, out in the fresh air and enjoying the quiet beauty of the lake is a successful day of fishing. Like the old saying goes, "a bad day at fishing is better than a good day at work". That being said, every one that goes out and drops a line in the water can't help but secretly dream of catching "the big one", (otherwise known as a "lunker" if you talk fish'in!).  You can ask 100 different fisherman what the secret to catching fish is and you'll probably get 100 different answers. It's a sport that's half science and half art. Here's a collection of "tips" and "lore" aimed at helping you catch "the big one"... 

Best Locations

Water temperature has a significant affect on where you'll find the fish. The best temperature for fishing generally depends on the species. For the species found in lake Norman you'll find that bass and stripers do best in cool water. During the summer months they'll move to deeper water. As the water cools in the fall and on through the spring you'll find them closer to shore. Crappie will take what they can find while catfish are bottom feeders and will follow the food. 

Best Times of the Day

In general the best fishing time is often said to be about an hour before and after sunrise, as well as an hour before and after sundown.  

Watch the Wind

It's often said that the fishing will be best when the water is still or lightly rippled, rather than during a wind.

Watch the Barometer

Barometric pressure is said to have a big affect on the way fish behave. Fish will be most active and feeding when barometric pressure is steady or rising. When barometric pressure drops, as in the case of a weather cold front, the fish will become less active and harder to attract. Even in conditions of falling barometric pressure fish need to eat and can be caught with the right approach. Bass and other shallow-water fish will move for cover or to the edges of drop-offs, such as along a creek channel. Try casting close to structures, brush and vegetation with small bait for the best results. 

Best Fishing Days

The phase of the moon is said to have an influence on when the best times to fish are. Between the time when the moon is new through to when it is full is considered to be the best times to fish. Based on this the best times to fish will be:

APRIL 23 - MAY 7
MAY 22 - JUNE 5
JUNE 21 - JULY 5
NOVEMBER 15 - 30
DECEMBER 14 - 30

This Weeks Fishing Tips

For late summer Fishing Success locate the Thermocline

The area in the water that separates the warmer surface water from much colder deeper water in the lake is known as the "Thermocline". In the late summer months, locating the lake's thermocline  can really help you improve your chances of catching fish. To locate the thermocline, you're going to need some very sensitive electronic equipment. Garmin Electronics is one of the few manufacturers of depth finders that include temperature sensors sensitive enough to pinpoint the thermocline. You can buy Garmin depth finders at and other good sports equipment retailers.


Big Bass are
Smart Bass

Bass who live on heavily-pressured lakes like Lake Norman become "lure cautious".  Bigger bass learn to avoid anything that doesn't seem "right" to them. When you fish a heavily-pressured lake use lures without rattles and lures that are natural in color and appearance.

If you have some tips or advice for fishing on Lake Norman or you have a picture of a great fish you've caught or a fish'in story you'd like to share please send us an e-mail, we'd love to post it here.

Seasonal Bass Fishing Tips

Early Spring:

Early spring is the pre-spawn time for bass. At this time of year bass can be both lethargic as well as scrappy and aggressive. Many Pro's rank the hair jig as a prime lure for this time of year. At this time of year look for fish in transition areas. This means current edges and eddies, and especially, dams and power plants. Coves can also be good areas as the waters there warm up earlier and provide good food sources. 

The spawn is a good time to catch a "lunker". Look for fish in the shallows and keep an eye out for beds. The water shouldn't be deeper than about 6' and look for a bottom that is sand, gravel, pebbles, or clay. This time of year lures that imitate the physical characteristics of natural bait will work best: lures like a soft plastic crawfish, a soft plastic tube, and in weedier areas, a soft plastic lizard. Rig the craw Texas style with a spinning rod 6' to 7' long, a medium action or medium heavy, and 6 to 12 pound test mono. Use thin diameter line. For the tube use the same rod and reel but line no heavier than 8 pound test. For the Lizard, and the areas you fish it, go to light bait-casting tackle with 12 pound mono. Just hop the lures on the bed and let them sit and when they inhale it count to 3 and set the hook. 

The post spawn is a difficult time to catch a bass. They are tired from spawning and are skinny. You should generally fish in deeper water and especially around submerged cover, such as a log. Fish these areas with a stiffer rod and at least 10 pound test and use soft plastic jerk-baits 3 to 6 inches long. Rig them weightless Texas style on a 1/0 to 5/0 Owner hook. 


In summer bass will move closer to cover. Primary lures include 2" to 5" soft plastic grubs, such as a Berkley PowerGrub, rigged on a jighead, weight 1/16 to 3/8 ounce. Top colors are chartreuse and pearl. 


The fall is the time to move into the coves. An abundance of baitfish gather here. The bass will be getting fat for winter so they will be aggressive. Use large jerk-baits, grubs 4" and over, spinner-baits up to 1 ounce, and even crank-baits. Fish them erratically, like a dieing baitfish. Any color that imitates a minnow or shiner should work well. 


Winter fishing is challenging . Jigging spoons and Rapala jigging plugs are a good choice or a 1/2 ounce shorty spoon in silver. Use bait-casting tackle. Around docks and other structures are great areas to fish, in these areas try pitching a hair jig in a natural color.