Piedmont Lakes Fishing Report: April - May 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 bass would bust topwater lures.


 "In April bass will be bedding," he said. "Whopper Ploopers are great topwater lures for fishing the beds."


 When the bass move out to points, umbrella rigs with Keitech Easy Shiners work well. For casting to docks and rocky banks, fishermen should go with Vack's spinnerbaits. Crankbait action will also crank up, with the Bill Norman N series lures in parrot colors and Rapala DT series in shad colors good bets. Ripping a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap with a Lew's Speed Spool and Speed Stick outfit covers lots of water in a hurry. For fishing deep, a Zoom Trick Worm or Speed Craw in black-and-red, Plum and Watermelon will work.


 Stripers will strike 4-inch Storm swimbaits and chartreuse Super Spooks cast to main lake points early and late. Live bait fishermen should troll shad on light lines. The best place to catch shad is the upstream dam.


 Crappie anglers should fish brush piles with minnows on float rigs in early April. Then, the fish will move to the banks as the water warms, where trolling Bobby Garland jigs in Electric Chicken color will catch them.


 Channel catfish will bite chicken livers, night crawlers, cut shad, stink baits and blood baits. The fish will pig out on Hog Wild Dip Bait dripped on a sponge hook.




Lake Norman

Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing With Gus, 704-617-6812) said everything will be biting.

"April and May are my favorite months," he said. "Crappie, bass, perch and catfish are easy to catch because the fish are shallow."


 Early April is a good time to catch crappie on deep brush piles. However, anglers should try casting the banks and deeper docks first to see if they hold residual spawning fish. A slip float rig baited with a minnow is a good bet for crappie at any depth. Perch or spotted bass will also strike minnow rigs.


 Bass will bite everything cast everywhere. Nonetheless, it is hard to beat flipping a soft plastic under a dock, to a point or on a brush pile, with best colors greenish blues. Small creature baits will catch the most bass. Topwater action will be excellent from mid-April through May, with Whopper Ploppers, chuggers and poppers top-drawer lures. A good subsurface lure is a No. 5 Shad Rap or half-ounce Rat-L-Trap.


 Catfishermen should anchor the boat fore and aft over a point and fish all water depths using multiple rods. Cut shad or chicken parts are good baits. Chum dropped under the boat will entice catfish to swim through the baits.


In May, white perch will hit Sabiki rigs and spoons. They will school at 20 or 30 feet in the coves, where anglers can find them with electronics or by drifting and jigging.


Hybrids should be upriver between the Railroad Trestle and Lookout Shoals Dam. A small Rat-L-Trap or Kastmaster spoon will open their eyes.



Lake Wylie

Jerry Neeley (Carolina’s Fishing Guide Service, 704-678-1043) said bass will torpedo topwater lures.


"The bass will be on secondary points or in the coves," he said. "A floating worm fished on top of the beds will catch a ton of fish. Good colors are black-and-yellow or white. A Zoom lizard in Watermelon Seed or Pumpkinseed color fished on a split-shot rig will also attract strikes. Dipping the tail in garlic scented Spike It will increase its effectiveness."


Long line trolling for crappie using jigs and minnows in the creeks will dredge up some action. If the fish are deep, anglers should switch to tight line rigs. Crappie will also be on the brush piles, where a white or chartreuse trailer on a red jig head or a black trailer on a black jig head will haul them out. Shooting jigs under the docks that have brush beneath them also works. For shallow crappie, anglers should cast a float rig with a jig 12 inches beneath the float. Popping the cork entices the bite.


Catfish anglers should use electronics to find fish in creeks. The best bet is to start trolling in six feet of water in the early morning and move toward the creek mouth to 25 feet. The best bait is white perch.


 White perch could school anywhere, so anglers should use depthfinders and begin looking for them at 12 feet then work deeper. A two-hook minnow rig or Sabiki rig baited with cut fish will catch them.




















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