Fishin’ with Capt. Gus: Lake Norman Spotted Bass

  • Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 7:45 p.m.
Josh Isenhour of Mooresville with a pair of spotted bass he caught at the same time on Lake Norman fishing.
Josh Isenhour of Mooresville with a pair of spotted bass he caught at the same time on Lake Norman fishing.

Anglers fishing Lake Norman can expect to catch lots of spotted bass in August!

If you’re not familiar with the species, spotted bass are members of the black bass family of sunfish.

When searching for forage fish, they tend to roam in schools. Their bodies are longer and somewhat more slender than those of their large and smallmouth bass cousins.

Spotted bass have a single patch of teeth on their tongue, which the other two black bass species do not have. The rough patch is used to hold and crush crayfish before swallowing.

They get their name from the dark spots that form a series of rows below the lateral lines on each side of their body.

Spotted bass are popular game fish. They are quite numerous, relatively easy to locate and can be caught year round. Savvy summer anglers fish for them with top water lures when they’re feeding on the surface off river and creek channel points.

Buzz baits, chuggers, poppers and propelled fish sticks are popular top water lures.

When fish are finicky, tie a small silver spoon (ice-fly) to the back hook of a top water lure or popping cork, by using a 12-inch to 18-inch piece of monofilament line.

When spots are suspended, flukes, swim baits and crank baits attract lots of attention. Try various sizes and colors until the “hatch is matched.” Since forage fish are silver in color, lures in grey, black, silver and pearl are popular choices.

As with largemouth bass, spots will either go deep or seek solace from the bright sunlight by swimming underneath piers and boat docks.

Anglers who use soft plastic lures have developed a technique called “skip casting” that allows them to cast baits far underneath a dock where larger bass often hide.

If you fish after dark, concentrate around lighted boat docks.

The brighter the light, the better, as long as the light shines directly into the water. Light attracts plankton and bugs which attract baitfish and baitfish become dinner for spotted bass and other predator fish.

Tips from Capt. Gus

Spotted bass fight so hard for their size, that anglers are often tricked into thinking they have hooked a striped bass or a fish twice its weight. Even with their great tenacity, they do not jump like the large or smallmouth do.

Upcoming events

A free safe boating class on “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held at Morning Star Marina, Kings Point, exit 28, Cornelius, at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 14 Becky Johnson and I will cover topics that include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water”, “The Ten Most Dangerous Spots”, and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For more information, call Becky Johnson at 704-892-7575.

Fishing report

Fishing for white perch and catfish has been excellent. White perch, some a pound or so, are schooling in water to 50 feet deep. Prime fishing times are during the morning bite in Mountain and Reed Creeks.

Fishing is excellent for channel cats in back coves and for blues on flats and sides of creek points.

Crappie are hitting minnows at night around bridge pilings.

Water conditions

The water level on Lake Norman is approximately 1.1 feet below full pond. Mountain Island Lake is 3.1 feet below full. Surface water temperatures are in the low to mid-80s, depending on location or proximity to a power plant.

Capt. Gus Gustafson is an outdoor columnist and fishing Guide on Lake Norman. Visit his website, or call 704-617-6812. For additional information, e-mail

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