Baitfish, dingy water turn on Lake Norman bass

Lake Norman
Guide Joel Richardson said the fishing on Lake Norman has been on fire for largemouth bass and other several other species.

More baitfish, dirty water means more Lake Norman bass

Guide Joel Richardson of Kernersville, N.C., has never seen Lake Norman with as much dingy water this time of year, nor as many baitfish.

And he’s catching fish like never before.

Richardson has been guiding on a handful of North Carolina lakes for two decades. The former bass pro spent three days on 32,500-acre Lake Norman last week. And he called it “one of the best weeks of fishing I’ve seen at Norman, for numbers and some quality fish.

“The best fishing has been from the (NC) 150 bridge downstream to about a mile past the mouth of Mountain Creek,” said Richardson (336-803-2195). “I have never seen the water dirty two-thirds of the way to the dam — spinnerbait dirty.

“All that rain we had, the lake was full before New Year’s, and it was muddy,” he said. “Then, they (Duke Energy) sucked it down. They pulled that dirty water down, and it’s still all over the main part of the lake, which is about three feet down.

“You get in the backs of those little short creeks off the main lake, and there are largemouth, spots, stripers and white perch — you can catch ‘em all on a spinnerbait or small crankbaits, even Rat-L-Traps. I’ve been fishing crankbaits in shad patterns and white spinnerbaits.”

No winter shad kill has baitfish plentiful

Richardson said those predators are in the back third of those short creeks off the main lake for one reason: shad.

“A lot of baitfish are in Norman right now. I can’t stress enough: there’s so much bait in Norman,” he said. “At Norman, all over the state, even in Virginia, we didn’t have a shad kill this winter. There are so many half-inch and inch-long shad in Norman, more than I believe I’ve seen in my life. There are schools back there like you see in October.”

Richardson said he’s caught fish around boat docks and off secondary points. But he’s caught the most fish just setting up in the backs of the short, main-lake creeks and fan-casting around bait in 5 or 6 feet of water.

“The water temperature is mostly in the mid- to upper 50s, say, 54 to 57 degrees. You might find some 60-degree water in the back of pockets. The shad are schooling in the back third of those creeks in 5 to 10 feet of water. Everything is around them. 

“I’ve gone three times in the last week and a half,” Richardson said on Tuesday. “And I’ve caught 40 or 50 fish a day. The last trip, I caught some nice stripers, 5 to 8 pounds. I caught about a dozen spotted bass from 1 to 3 pounds, a half-dozen largemouth: one 5-pounder and one about 3 1/2, and maybe 25 white perch.”

Dan Kibler
About Dan Kibler 822 Articles
Dan Kibler is managing editor of Carolina Sportsman Magazine. If every fish were a redfish and every big-game animal a wild turkey, he wouldn’t ever complain. His writing and photography skills have earned him numerous awards throughout his career.

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