Piedmont Lakes Fishing Report: December 2017 - January 2018
Mike Marsh’s book, Fishing North Carolina, shares his best-kept secrets for fishing 100 lakes, rivers, ponds, sounds and piers.
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)
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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.
Shannon Lyndon (Lyndon's Riverview Sports, 828-632-7889) said stripers should be striking on the points.
"The lower end is the best place for stripers," he said. "A white bucktail jig with a Zoom Magnum Fluke trailer in White Pearl and Albino will catch them. The best places to cast jigs are the sunny main lake points."
Bass anglers should cast Mega Bite jigs in blue-and-black or Green Pumpkin-red-metal-flake colors to the primary or secondary points. Crankbaits also work well on the points, with a Bill Norman Deep Little N a great choice.
Crappie will be in brush piles at 20 to 25 feet on the main lake and at the piers. The fish are not as abundant as in other lakes, but they are big, quantity fish. A 1/16- or 1/32-ounce Bobby Garland jig in Red Thunder color is a good go-to lure for crappie. Crappie fishermen can always rely on minnows hooked on jigs to haul fish out of the brush.
Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing With Gus, 704-617-6812) said multiple species would bite despite the cold weather.
"The fish are not as deep in December because the water is warmer than it is in January," he said "They head deep after the water turns cold. This is a great time to watch for the seabirds because they show you where the baitfish are schooling and the predators are below them."
The height of the holiday season is a great time to catch fish in Stumpy, McCrary, Mountain and Reed creeks. Anglers should find fish wherever they see birds and baitfish and use a trolling motor to ease up to the school.
Good lures that will catch hybrids, largemouth and spotted bass in these mixed schools include Zara Spooks, jerk baits and crankbaits. If the fish go deeper, they will hit subsurface lures such as jigs and spoons.
White perch will be in the same areas, but will be deeper than the other species. Anglers can target them with small jigs, spoons and Sabiki rigs tipped with pieces of fish.
Bass anglers can also catch fish on docks, rocks and brush piles warmed by the sun. The best way to catch them is with soft plastic lures fished slowly on drop shot and shaky head rigs.
Catfish will bite at Marshall and McGuire power plant discharge areas. Stink baits, cut baits and chicken marinated in garlic powder are the best baits. Anglers should anchor their boats and set out as many rods as possible. Chumming works well for attracting the fish when the water is moving.
Crappie will bite at the brush piles at the boathouses and marinas in 15 to 20 feet of water. Anglers should use crappie minnows and jigs to catch them, with the best jig color chartreuse.
Jerry Neeley (Carolina’s Fishing Guide Service, 704-678-1043) said white perch and crappie school together.
"I put out 10 rods all around the boat and troll at ½ mile per hour," he said. "I use two-hook rigs baited with minnows with ½-ounce bell sinker to hold the baits two cranks of the reel handle off the bottom.
The best way to catch them is to find two schools of fish about ¼-mile apart other and troll back and forth them. You can fill the cooler with crappie and white perch if you can find that situation."
The best places to fish are Big Allison and Little Allison creeks. However, anglers should check all of the creeks with their sonar units.
When Duke Energy is moving water in the South Fork River, it turns on the bass. If the water is muddy, the best largemouth lure is a spinnerbait with a white skirt and Colorado blades. If the water is clear, a good bet is a Carolina rig with a Zoom worm or lizard in Green Pumpkin or Watermelon Seed color. If the water is as warm as the lower 60s, bass will strike a floating Rapala Minnow cast along the edges at the backs of the coves.
Blue catfish tend to run bigger in winter than in warmer months, so anglers often hook fish weighing 40 pounds or more. The best places to fish are main lake flats in 30 40 feet of water, trolling cut white perch and bream on the bottom at ½ mile per hour. If suspended catfish show on the depthfinder, putting out a planer board rig on each side of the boat to spread the baits and lift them off the bottom is a good tactic.
CAPT. GUS GUSTAFSON