Hunting & Fishing
Striper Fishing On Lake Norman
You can feel the fight of one of the strongest freshwater sportfish without ever leaving the comfort of North Carolina’s largest city. As frosty November nights chill water temperatures, striped bass in Lake Norman, located in the shadows of Charlotte’s skyscrapers, begin their fall feeding spree drawing bundled-up anglers who are ready to have their tackle tested.
According to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, striped bass were first stocked in Lake Norman in 1969. Stocking continues today - at a rate of 162,500 fingerlings annually - because the fish are native to saltwater and cannot reproduce naturally in freshwater. The average fish weighs five pounds with bigger ones around ten pounds available, more than enough to keep you busy with medium-action tackle. Monsters in the 20- to 30-pound range also swim in the lake. You can expect to catch your limit of four fish, with each measuring at least 16 inches in length.
Striper fishing really starts cooking in the beginning of November and runs through December as water temperatures fall toward 55 degrees. This is the magic number for striper action, with a strong bite still available when the water is ten degrees cooler or warmer.
Good places to start fishing are Reeds, Mountain and Davidson creeks in the lower end of the lake and Stumpy Creek above the Highway 150 bridge. If you keep an eye skyward, diving birds like gulls will often give away the location of baitfish and stripers.
There are plenty of ways to catch stripers, says fishing guide Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. The fish are usually in the top-third of the water column regardless of depth, making them accessible to trolling or casting. The preferred method among anglers is long-line trolling with either artificial or live bait. Casting to fish breaking on the surface is also an option. Some anglers like to add hunting to their fishing by watching their fish finders for stripers and only dropping their minnows or jigging spoons down once they “mark” one.
You can use your bass tackle to cast or troll minnow baits, bucktail jigs, spoons or crankbaits for the stripers. Want to go with live bait? That can be slow-trolled, too, either straight off the back of the boat or from planer boards. If you are handy with a cast net, try shad or herring straight from the lake. Otherwise, check out the bait shops for larger bass minnows or a local striper delicacy, hatchery-raised trout anywhere from 3 to 12 inches in length.
Finding a place to launch your boat is not a problem. In the southern end of the lake, Blythe Landing in Cornelius, NC, offers several concrete ramps, docks and ample parking. The Pinnacle Access Area, located at the Highway 150 crossing, is an efficient option for fishing the northern half of the lake. If you have a smaller boat, don’t let the lake’s size discourage you. Boat ramps are scattered around the lake allowing you access to the protected waters of just about every creek even when the wind on the main lake is stirring up monster-size waves.
For a list of boat ramps and more information on Lake Norman, visit Duke-energy.com. To purchase your North Carolina fishing license, or to get the latest fishing report, visit www.ncwildlife.org.
By Peter Anderson
By Peter Anderson
added: December 23, 2008
updated: December 31, 2008