Fishin’ with Capt. Gus

Capt. Gus Gustafson is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide.


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Winter Fishing on the Piedmont Lakes

Diehard striper anglers on Piedmont Lakes relish bad weather. Some say, “The worse it gets, the better the fishing.”  This group of hard core fishermen dream of days when barometric pressure is low, air temperatures are in the thirties, and wind driven sleet and snow pelts the water’s surface. One must question why they torture themselves. Could it be a burning desire to hook and land a wall hanger?


  Regardless of the reason, most anglers would rather wait a few days for a bad weather system to pass and then fish on a Carolina Blue sky day with moderate temperatures.  Beautiful weather and great fishing are typical during the winter holidays. Thousands of fishermen are lured to the Catawba and Yadkin River lakes in late December and early January. That is why the best fishing holes are frequently crowded.


Stripers are “king” during the holidays. Methods used to catch them vary by lakes. Most anglers however, will drift or slow troll live shad or herring. Some pull artificial lures or cast them to surface feeding fish. Live bait fishermen think it is easier to feed fish than to trick them into biting a plastic lure.


Typically, a combination of lines suspended at different depths from the surface to the bottom of the water column, are used to entice striper bites. Once the feeding depth has been determined, intensify the action by resetting all lines to that level.  On occasion, multiple hookups allow for exciting moments.

Largemouth and spotted bass fall prey to anglers who cast the thousands of miles of shoreline on area lakes. Unlike striper fishermen, bass anglers prefer to use artificial lures. A cast here and there and they are off in search of another spot. Half the fun is to cover a lot of water in a speedy bass boat. Buzz baits and soft plastic flukes produce good catches when bass are feeding on the surface. Crank baits, worms and lizards are preferred when fish are deep.


Winter cat-fishing is best when the afternoon rays of sun pierce the surface of the water. A winter record was set some years ago when an eighty-nine pound Arkansas Blue Catfish was taken from Badin Lake. It surpassed the old state record by four pounds.


The current record Blue was taken from Lake Gaston in June (Which isn’t winter, of course, and we’re talking winter.) at 117-lbs, 8-oz! But when water temperatures become very cold, big cats like the comfortable warm waters of power plant discharge chutes. Word.


Holiday anglers can enjoy dunking jigs and small minnows for crappie around docks and brush piles. This popular pan fish is easy to tempt, fun to catch, and makes excellent table fare. Other popular pan fish on Piedmont lakes are white perch, white bass and bream, the children’s favorite.


Tip from Capt. Gus

Underwater road beds that crisscross most area impoundments are excellent migration routes and primary feeding areas for a variety of fish. Topographic maps that show underwater structure can be purchased at area tackle shops.


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