Spotted bass starting to school up on North Carolina’s Lake Norman

Guide Gus Gustafson said nice spotted bass will be schooling over deep water in Lake Norman this month.

Spots are roaming wide and feeding up

Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures said November is a good time to catch Lake Norman’s big spotted bass.

“The spots are bulking up for winter and roaming the lake in large schools, especially below the (NC) 150  bridge,” said Gustafson ( “It’s a good time to catch fish from 2 to 21/2 pounds.”

Even bigger spots are a possibility. Mt. Mourne’s Roger Hoover won a Sept. 7 tournament in Norman with five spots weighing 16.47 pounds, the biggest going 4.27 pounds.

Productive places for spots at the lower end of the lake include Davidson, Ramsey, Mountain and Reeds creeks.

Gustafson said spots congregate in 10 to 20 feet of water on the edges of points, roaming open water in pursuit of forage.

“Always fish the wind-blown points, because that’s where the baitfish will be,” he said.

Spots can be caught in a variety of ways, with a variety of baits. Gustafson uses spinning tackle spooled with 10-pound line. Occasionally, he fishes baitcasting gear.

Always stay ready to throw a topwater lure

Though mornings and evenings are best, spots can start busting the surface at any time.

“Avoid heavy tackle,” Gustafson said. “Even a small spot is a spirited fighter, so light tackle is more fun.”

Spots will whack small spoons, jigs, plastics, drop-shot rigs and crankbaits. Gustafson keeps a topwater bait rigged for surface action.

“Though mornings and evenings are best, spots can start busting the surface at any time,” said Gustafson. “I like a small Whopper Plopper. The bigger spots will be below the fish on the surface, so I fish baits that run a little deeper, like a lipless crankbait.”

Other places to look for spots that are more “homebodies” than “roamers” include boat docks near deep creek and river channels and boat ramps.

“Docks and boat ramps attract baitfish, crawfish and bream, all baits that spots dine upon,” Gustafson said.

Another great place for spots is the McGuire Nuclear Station near Cowans Ford Dam. Large numbers of spots are drawn to the warm-water discharge, aka the Hot Hole, along with a large number of boats.

“On weekends, the Hot Hole is crawling with fishermen,” said Gustafson. “Fish it during the week if possible.”

Some anglers slow-troll for spots using live-bait rigs, lipless lures, small spoons and crankbaits. They’ll make passes along points in 8 to 18 feet of water and repeat the pass if any fish are caught.

Gustafson said waters above the NC 150 Bridge are better for largemouth, but spots are caught at Long Island and from the railroad trestle to the I-40 bridge.

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