As water temperatures have started to fall, the appetites of Lake Norman’s gamefish have started to rise, according to guide Gus Gustafson.

“We have a mixed bag right now,” Gustafson said. “Bass (largemouths and spots) are schooling on points near ledges and drop-offs in creeks and at the river channel. You can find largemouths at riprap and deep brush piles, and trollers are catching a few hybrids, white perch and, surprisingly, some stripers.

“The lake’s offering just about any type of fishing you’d like to try.”

Gustafson (704-617-6812) said weather is the key ingredient.

“By Sept. 20 each year, the water temperature will reach only 78 degrees at mid- day and that turns fish on,” Gustafson said. “It’s the first sign of (approaching) winter.”

Gustafson said bass can be caught at a variety of depths and around a variety of types of structure and cover.

"Sometimes bass will chase (baitfish) at river and creek points and sometimes they’ll be 15 to 40 feet deep,” he said. “They’ll also be on humps in the main lake where you can use soft plastics such as Carolina rigs with finesse worms or shakey heads or drop-shot rigs.

“I like to work chartreuse-colored crankbaits at brush piles from four to 12 feet deep or fish open water with Flukes. Where the bass are just depends on whether it’s cloudy or sunny. You’ve got a lot of choices right now.”

Fishermen trolling Alabama rigs are having some success, too.

“Another thing that’s going on right now is some guys are trolling Alabama rigs real slow using trolling motors or the big engine they’ll cut on and off and get (lures) down to 20 or 30 feet,” he said. “They’re also catching white perch, hybrids, some stripers and tons of spotted bass with Alabama rigs loaded up with down-sized jigheads and swim baits. Sometimes they’ll hang three or four spots at a time.”

Gustafson said down-imaging depth-finders are great fishing tools at Norman.

“That’s the greatest toy ever invented for fishing,” he said. “I might not know where every brush pile is in the lake, but I sure can spot ’em now and see what kind of fish and how many are holding.”