Fishing with Capt. Gus: Stripers settling into their fall routine
By mid-November, stripers will have settled into an early winter pattern. They tend to concentrate in particular areas for days at a time and can be caught regularly.
Both tournament and recreational anglers like to use basic live-bait fishing techniques this month ó a combination of down lines and planer boards, pulled slowly with an electric trolling motor. Baits should be suspended at various depths from surface to bottom. To assure that the entire water column is covered, use multiple rods. Depending on conditions, as many as eight or more rods can be baited and placed in rod holders. Fishermen who anchor often use fresh dead bait and up to 30 rods at a time. This method is commonly referred to as cut-bait fishing.
As November comes to an end, surface schooling activity slows. Fish the shallow flats and ends of coves at sunrise and before sunset. As fish move deeper during midday, knowledgeable anglers will move with the fish to deeper water and fish points, humps, creek turns and river channels.
Cool weather in November makes live baits easier to find and keep alive. Backs of creeks and coves hold shad, while herring are found around lighted docks after dark. If you’re not handy with a cast-net, big shiners and rainbow trout are available for purchase at area bait shops.
Shiners are sold by the dozen and prices vary by size. Expect to pay about $4 per dozen for big ones. Trout sell for $12 to $15 a dozen. They are hardy baits and will live for extended periods of time in live wells and bait buckets. Tournament anglers prefer 10-inch gizzard shad, crappie, bream and big trout. White perch are also a favorite meal for large stripers.
Thanksgiving week is a favorite time for striper fishermen. Hicks, Stumpy and Hagars creeks will be filled with boats. Stripers become leery and more difficult to entice when boat traffic is heavy, so try to escape the holiday crowd and fish in less congested areas.
If it’s bass you’re looking for, November is a great month to cast top water plugs early, and bottom bumping soft plastics (near boat docks and riprap) after sunrise. White perch can be caught with small lures or live minnows by drifting in water 20 feet or deeper.
November conditions should be right for fish and fishermen alike. Dress for the day and enjoy the cool air and the last of the fall colors.
Remember that unused minnows and trout can be kept alive until the next trip in a 30-gallon plastic garbage can. Drill a few hundred holes in the sides and bottom, suspend it in the water, and fasten it to the dock with a dock line. The top should be tightly secured with a bungee cord.
A recent hot spot was Mountain Creek, which continues to yield nice catches of stripers and spotted bass. Fish are also active around the islands north of the Lake Norman State Park.
The lake level is down about 2.5 feet from full and the water surface temperature is in the upper 60s and low 70s.
Visit www.fishingwithgus.com or call Gus Gustafson at 704-617-6812, or e-mail him at Gus@LakeNorman.com.