Piedmont Lakes Fishing Report: October-November 2017

Mike Marsh’s book, Fishing North Carolina, shares his best-kept secrets for fishing 100 lakes, rivers, ponds, sounds and piers.


To order:

Fishing North Carolina ($26.60),

Inshore Angler – Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide ($26.20),


Offshore Angler – Coastal Carolina’s Mackerel Boat Fishing Guide ($22.25)

mail a check or MO to:


Mike Marsh

1502 Ebb Drive

Wilmington, NC 28409

or visit www.mikemarshoutdoors.com for credit card orders.



What to expect when you head out to fish the lakes of the Piedmont over the next few weeks. Get a clue from noted outdoor writer Mike Marsh.

Catawba Reservoirs


Lake Hickory

Matt Middleton (Lyndon’s Riverview Sports, 828-632-7889) said bass anglers should get cranking.


 “Largemouth bass will be at any water depth so you have to find the spots where they are comfortable with the water temperature,” he said. “You should start out casting to points in 12 to 18 feet of water. Some good crankbaits are the Gamakatsu Spro Little John 50 and Little John MD and Rapala DT6 or DT10. Dark colors like green pumpkin work well in darker water, but something with chartreuse is always a good choice. If the fish are fussy, try tossing them a lure that has purple or blue flake.”


 Stripers will bite at main lake points. Anglers can catch shad in Gunpowder Creek and head for the mouth, fishing them under planer boards on the points in 20 feet of water upstream to Rink Dam. The key is locating the fish on a depthfinder and being persistent, keeping the bait in front of their noses until they bite.


  “For catching stripers on artificial lures, the key is to fish wherever there is a good current flow,” Middleton said. “The fish like an artificial bait that has a lot of action, such as the Zoom Fluke or Zara Spook.”


 Channel catfish, along with an occasional blue or white catfish, will bite at 12 to 15 feet in the main lake channel. Night crawlers, shrimp, cut bait and Magic Bait in Chicken Blood or cheese flavor are the best baits. If they don’t bite within 15 minutes, it is time to move to another spot and try again.


 Crappie will be biting at 12 to 20 feet around docks, brush piles and overhanging trees. Best bets are 1/32-ounce Bobby Garland jigs in Baby Shad or Cajun Cricket color. The key is fishing with a light rod rigged with 4-pound test monofilament line to increase strikes and the angler’s ability to detect them.






Lake Norman

Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing With Gus, 704-617-6812) said bass fishing would catch fantastic.


Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing With Gus, 704-617-6812) said big crappie bite in chilly water.

 “Depending on the water temperature, the crappie will be at 10 to 40 feet, but you should not get hung up on any given depth,” he said. “Try different cover at different depths, particularly bridges, brush and boat houses. Lake Norman has more than 20 bridges so bridge pilings are always good spots. I use 1/8-ounce jigs for deep fishing because we have lots of 17- to 20-inch fish and the bigger jigs catch bigger fish and gets down faster to them. You can use a jig with a soft plastic or marabou skirt or tip it with a minnow.”


 Big blue catfish bite well into October when the water is still warm. The baits are cut herring, shad, stinkbaits, bream heads, white perch and chicken parts laced with garlic powder. Anglers should work the edges of coves at 10 t0 20 feet, slow trolling or anchoring on points. For channel cats, the best method is stabilizing the boat with two anchors casting several lines baited with stinkbaits.


 White perch will school at 25 to 35 feet in the deepest parts of coves, where anglers can spot them with their sonar units. A spoon will catch them, but a Sabiki rig with a jigging spoon for weight is the best choice. If nothing else works, fishing a crappie minnow on a double dropper rig fished on a down line will.


 Spotted bass will splash the surface early and late on shallow points and along banks with deep drop-offs that have buttonbushes along the edges. Crankbaits Whopper Ploppers are the best lures.


 Soft plastics fished at boat docks will catch spotted bass and largemouth bass. Spots are more prevalent below the N.C. 150 Bridge while largemouth bass are more likely catches upstream where there is more woody cover. In the upper river, largemouth bass will bust buzzbaits and spinnerbaits.


 Hybrids will bite above Buffalo Shoals Bridge. Hitting them with casting spoons and topwater lures will get their attention. The islands above Duke Power State Park and Mountain Creek also have these “Bodie Bass” in abundance.











Lake Wylie

Jerry Neeley (Carolina’s Fishing Guide Service, 704-678-1043) said crappie anglers would be happy.


 “I catch crappie by shooting docks,” he said. “If find a dock with a pontoon boat that sits in the water all year, I fish between the dock and the boat to catch the biggest crappie.”


 Crappie will be at 4 to 6 feet, where a 1/32-ounce hair jig with a red head and white body will usually catch them. If water is dingy, a jig with a red head and yellow body works better. A good secondary choice for either condition is a green jig with a chartreuse body. In deep water, a black jig works best.


Another tactic is long line trolling in creeks, using multiple rods with 1/16-ounce jigs and six-pound test monofilament line. Anglers should use their electronics to locate the fish.


 In November, crappie head deeper, where two-hook down lines baited with minnows will haul them up. Anglers should troll at different depths to find the zone with the right bite. White perch will strike the same setups.


 Topwater bass action will be excellent early and late. A Rebel Pop-R or black buzzbait cast to rocky points and shallow spots in the backs of the creeks will get their attention. A good spot for blistering a buzzbait is a riprap bank.


 After the topwater bite stops in the morning, anglers should switch to a flat-sided 10-foot depth crankbait, tossing it to stumps and rocks. Pearl, bone or shad colors work well. Another way to catch bass is bumping the docks with a black and blue jig.


 Catfish will crunch cut bream heads. Anglers can fish with artificial maggots and worms to catch bream in the backs of coves and troll the cut bream along the bottom at Mill, Catawba or Crowder’s creeks or and in the South Fork River. By November, Big Allison Creek will be the best place because of the warm water discharge at the Catawba nuclear power plant.












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