During recent weeks, guide Craig Price of Denver said he's found spotted bass and scattered stripers, along with some big white perch. Historically, during cold months at Lake Norman, Price said spotted bass and stripers school in the main lake or head for the backs of creeks, with bait availability the key draw.
"They've been mainly at the lower end of the lake from Markers 10 to 7 in the main-river channel's 'S' curves," he said. "To find them, it's just a matter of looking for diving birds. You'll see birds where spots and stripers push baitfish to the surface. There also have been some fish up around the main lake at the mouths of Rocky and Stumpy Creeks."
Price's favorite lures include small bucktails, small jigs and small crankbaits. Spots have varied from 1 to 4 ½ pounds, while striped bass range from 15 to 25 inches long.
"If you see fish breaking on the surface, you can get into some topwater action with Pop-Rs, Zara Spooks and Zara Pups," said Price (704-996-0946), who said Fluke-style baits, jerkbaits and Rat-L-Traps also have produced sub-surface bites.
Spotted bass school and roam the lake the same as striped bass.
"The spots hit the same artificial lures as the stripers," Price said. "Usually, you'll have spots, stripers and perch in the same area. They'll show up on the depth-finders, too, when you don't see birds."
Reports have indicated good numbers of stripers at mid-lake creeks, but Price is skeptical.
"People tell me they've heard of catches of 10 to 30 stripers in a day, but I haven't seen any photos," he said. "Some long-time striper guides I know aren't seeing that, either."
Anglers who like catching big white perch are using small crankbaits that imitate tiny herring and jigging Sabiki rigs with a jig or spoon tied to the end of the rig.
"A lot of times you'll find big schools of white perch right where the mouth of an old creek channel dumps into the main river channel," Price said.
When he doesn't find fish at feeder streams joining the main lake, Price said he'll try the backs of creeks.
"One day fish might be in Beaverdam (Creek) or the next day they could be at Little Creek that same or the next day," he said. "If you go to the back of a creek and see baits and birds, they're more than likely feeding on stunned live baits."