Piedmont Lakes Fishing Report: February - March 2018

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

Randy Moose (Lyndon's Riverview Sports, 828-632-7889) said fishing has been off, but should pick up by March.


 "We had a lot of flow in the river over the winter," he said. "But, if the water stabilizes, the bass should be in the usual spring spots. The important thing to look for is warm water. In February, they will be deep and in March, they should move shallow."


 Anglers should search out the sunny banks and structure areas. For these areas, spinnerbaits and crankbaits like the DT6 Rapala in Pumkinseed color work well.


 Stripers will hit Storm swimbaits and live shad cast along rocky points. Anglers should be on the lookout for surfacing fish and have a Heddon Super Spook or Chug'n Spook in chartreuse or bone colors ready to fire off a cast.


 Channel catfish will bite chicken livers, night crawlers or cut shad behind the main lake points. The best stink bait is Magic Bait in chicken blood or beef blood flavors.


 Crappie will be schooling in the brush piles. Anglers can catch them by dropping live minnows or jigging with chartreuse Panfish Assassins or chartreuse-and-red Mizmo jigs.





Lake Norman

Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing With Gus, 704-617-6812) said all species will head for the shallows.


"As February winds down, the fish are going to the back of the creeks, with Ramsey, McCrary, Mountain, Reed, and Terrapin creeks all good places. Some fish will be wherever the shad numbers are highest in deeper parts of the creeks."


Anglers can fish in water so shallow their motors are kicking up mud and catch largemouth and spotted bass, white perch and crappie. The best bite is at dawn.


If they miss the early morning bite, anglers should fish for pre-spawn bass on the inshore points that have cover as well as the outside stumps and sunny side of any dock. Crankbaits will be the best bet all-around. Spoonbill styles bounced off cover will entice reaction strikes.


Hybrids will school in both hot holes as well as up in the Catawba River above the I-40 Bridge.


Crappie will be big but scattered. Anglers should be satisfied if they catch a half-dozen on a brush pile, then move on to another one.

Lake Wylie

Jerry Neeley (Carolina’s Fishing Guide Service, 704-678-1043) said crappie would crush live minnows.


"In February, the crappie begin to enter the creeks," he said. "They will bite in 30 to 40 feet of water. However, on warmer days, they start moving into shallower water. Good electronics will help you find them, wherever they are."


Neeley likes to fish tight-lines with hook-and-minnow rigs two turns of the reel handle off the bottom. The rigs have a half-ounce sinker, a 14-inch leader and a No. 6 gold hook. In March, he switches to trolling with long-lines in the shorter creeks, using a jig with a minnow. He trolls faster when he uses long-lines.


Bass will be biting spinnerbaits with Colorado Blades, with white a good color. They will also strike swimbaits and chatterbaits. If the water is cloudy the best bets are blow-downs, stumps, rocks and the sunny sides of floating docks. Fishing the secondary coves with crankbaits is also a good tactic with a gold Rapala a good lure. Another is a Shad Rap in crawdad color. Jigs will work at the rocks and docks, with black-and-blue a good bet. On warmer, sunny days, a pink floating worm may get their attention.


Catfish anglers should use their electronics to find fish in the creeks. However, they may be too shallow for spotting with a depthfinder. If they don't bite in the creeks, trolling the main lake flats with cut white perch is a good bet.


White perch will be schooling at 20 to 40 feet, where a two-hook minnow rig or a Sabiki rig baited with pieces of fish will catch them. Anglers can see the perch with a depthfinder and crappie may be schooling with them.


















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