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Fishing with Capt. Gus: Lake Norman stripers active in low light

Striper fishing has been very good to excellent this spring.
As normal for this time of year, stripers are most active during the low light period from sunset until an hour or so after sunrise. Being nocturnal by nature, this is the time when individual fish and large schools roam the shallows in search of food.
Shallow clay banks, long gradual sloping points, and lighted boat dock areas seem to attract the most bait. The ilinesidersî follow the bait. But, as soon as the sun brightens the morning sky, stripers will swim off the flats and dock areas into water 20 feet or deeper. Throughout the day, they cruise the edges of creek channels, deep ends and sides of points, and near underwater humps (islands).
Overnight and early morning, stripers will take both artificial and live baits fished just below the surface. Shad Raps, Rat L Traps and Redfins are time proven winners. Live baits, pulled on flat lines or suspended off the bottom with floats or planer boards, are equally effective. Live baits vary with availability. Shad, herring, shiners and small bream are best choices.
During the day, bucktails, deep diving lures and jigging spoons will tempt stripers found on a fish finder. Live baiting is best while drifting or slow trolling with baits suspended at various depths (5 to 10- foot intervals). A second option is to double anchor the boat (bow and stern), and use a combination of live and cut baits on the bottom. An added bonus to bottom fishing is the possibility of catching some big flathead and Arkansas blue catfish, which are often attracted to the smell of cut bait.
Lake Normanís striper creel limit is four fish per angler per day, with a minimum size limit of 16 inches between Oct. 1 and May 31. There is no size limit between June 1 and Sept. 30 (the creel limit of four per angler remains in effect). During the summer, striper anglers are encouraged to keep the first four fish they catch, regardless of size. The mortality rate is extremely high among fish that are released.
If youíre night fishing, use electrical tape to attach a flashlight to the shaft of your landing net. The light beam will shine on the fish being landed and will make hook removal much easier.
The water level is about 1.7 feet below full pond and surface water temperature is in the 70s.

Visit www.fishingwithgus.com or call Gus Gustafson at 704-489-0763, or e-mail him at Gus@LakeNorman.com.

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