Guide Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures said August is made for catfish on North Carolina’s Lake Norman.
“The hotter the weather, the better the catfish bite, especially in the early morning,” he said. ” While 90-degree temperatures give most other species lockjaw, catfish go on the prowl in warm water in search of forage.”
Gustafson (www.fishingwithgus.com) breaks summer fishing for cats into two categories: family fun fishing and fishing for trophy cats.
“Channel cats up to 3 pounds are in every creek in Lake Norman,” he said. “Whether you fish from a dock or a boat, chum the area with bread, dog food or prepared chum concoctions and get ready for plenty of fun.”
Effective baits are chicken livers, stinkbaits and chicken breasts fished on the bottom.
For trophy blues and flatheads, Gustafson has two strategies.
First, he anchors using two anchors to keep the boat steady and puts out baits at different depths on 15 or more stout rods with baitcasting reels spooled with 30-pound line connected to a 20-pound leader tied to No 5/0 or 7/0 hooks.
“If you’re fishing primarily for blues, use heavier leader, because blues are notorious for twisting and fraying line,” Gustafson said.
Best baits for blues are chicken breasts, cut gizzard shad and strips of white perch or bream. Flatheads prefer live baits, such as perch, bream or shad.
“If there’s no wind, rock your boat to put your lines in motion,” said Gustafson. “The movement triggers catfish to bite.”
Gustafson may also slow-troll or drift using the same set-up.
Two special occasions create great fishing opportunities.
The summer heat may cause a fish kill at the lower end of the lake near Cowans Ford Dam.
“The fish kill mostly affected stripers back when Norman had stripers,” said Gustafson. “Now, it’s mostly gizzard shad; the dying shad attract blues that come to feed and clean up the mess.”
Gustasfson said the fish are suspended, so fish the thermocline with Carolina rigs carrying strips of perch or bream. He covers the area by drifting or slow-trolling. Some anglers employ 21/2-ounce jigging spoons tipped with cut bait.
The other occasion involves flatheads.
“Flatheads love white perch,” said Gustafson. “If you see white perch chasing forage, flatheads will be below the feeding fish dining upon the scraps of forage left behind. Rig a live perch, hang on and have a big net.”