With the sweltering heat of July comes a waterborne epidemic that sweeps through fishermen on Lake Norman: Lake Norman spotted fever. Spotted bass, that is.

Technically, the stricken may still go about their normal daily activities, but with action this hot, it isn’t advised. As large schools of spots huddle up on main-lake points, the best remedy is to follow the counsel of a professional, like pro bass angler Bryan Thrift of Shelby N.C.: take two baits and go fishing in the morning.  

 According to Thrift, the morning is a great time to start, but Lake Norman’s nomadic spots stay aggressive and hungry throughout the day, ready to pounce on a topwater walking lure or drop-shot rig.  

“You can throw topwater all day at Norman,” said Thrift, one of the nation’s top-ranked bass pros. “Those spots get out there and suspend in 20 to 30 feet of water, but they’ll only be 10 or 15 feet deep. The water is so clear, you can call them to the top all-day long. They can school and come up anytime, anywhere. I use the drop-shot to catch the fish under the boat that I see on my graph.”

Best of all, this isn’t the typical, slow grind of summer most anglers are accustomed to when targeting largemouth bass. Spots are a bit of a different breed. They are less affected by hot water and more inclined to school than largemouths. Spots will inhabit Norman’s open-water terrain in the summer and are likely to caught alongside the stripers and hybrid bass that they mimic.

While sometimes confused with largemouths, spots exhibit a number of distinguishing