Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 10, 2011

It might be wishful thinking, but the signs of an early spring are everywhere, as evidenced by the number of trucks and boat trailers at Lake Norman boat access areas and the growing throngs of people roaming the fishing tackle aisles at local fishing outlets.
Perhaps the best sign of an early spring was confirmed on Feb. 2. It was on that day when Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. While not scientific, Phil’s fabled prediction brings a ray of hope to everyone who has been holed up like a groundhog all winter long.
If the crowds witnessed at last month’s Mid-Atlantic Boat Show and the Daytona 500 mean anything, spring is already in full swing. And to add fuel to the fire, major league baseball is in spring training in Florida and Arizona.
But spring indicators are more than boat shows, NASCAR and major league baseball: Mother Nature has its signs as well. The days are getting longer, which allows the warming effects of the sun to warm the ground and the tulips and daffodils to sprout and robins are finding it easier to peck worms from the ground.
While not back from a winter hiatus quite yet, the ospreys of Lake Norman will make their spring appearance in a week or so. and begin restoring their nests and raising a new family of chicks.
Important to fishermen, is that fish are easier to locate and catch as they move to the shallows to feed and spawn.
The first species to reach the banks were white perch and crappie that began their spawn season on the full moon of Feb. 17.
Next to spawn are striped bass, currently being caught in the warmer waters surrounding the lake’s power plants. The full moons in March (19th) and April (17th) will signal the beginning of another great year for spotted and largemouth bass fishing. That is when bass anglers will be cruising the shorelines wearing polarized sunglasses in search of bedding female bass.
One of the greatest signs of spring is that the air temperature is getting warmer and it doesn’t take as many layers of clothing to stay comfortable. That is the best reason to go fishing and boating .
See you out there! Fishing is Fun!
Upcoming events
Free safe boating class: “How to Navigate Lake Norman – Day or Night” will be held at North Point Watersports Exit 36, Mooresville, on Wednesday, March 16, from 6:30-8 p.m. Topics for discussion include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System”, “Identifying and Learning How to Avoid the Ten Most Dangerous Spots”, and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For more information, call me at 704-617-6812 or e-mail
Free fishing seminar: “Bass Fishing for The Occasional Angler” at Gander Mountain, Exit 36 on Thursday, March 24, 2011 from 6:30-8 p.m. Bring the entire family to this event. I will discuss how to catch limits of large mouth and spotted bass by trolling drifting and still fishing with live baits and artificial lures, from the shoreline or any type of boat. A free detailed list of LKN’s top ten bass spots will be given to participants. Call 704-658-0822 for additional information.
Boater safety class: The Lake Norman Sail & Power Squadron’s next Boater Safety Class will be on Saturday, March, 26 at the Huntersville United Methodist Church, 14005 Stumptown Road, Huntersville, beginning at 8 a.m. The class fee is $45. Register at or by calling Bob Yannacci at 704-660-5568 for more information.
Tips from Capt Gus:
To entice a variety of fish during the pre and early spring period, retrieve artificial baits slowly in water less than ten feet. Popular lures are roadrunners, buck tails, rooster tails and gold and silver spoons.
Hot Spot of the Week:
Look for bass in coves and pockets where they are staging to spawn. Best bets are Ramsey and McCrary Creeks. Crappie and white perch fishing is good to very good on small minnows dropped around brush and fish attractors. Striper fishing is fair to good for “hot hole” fishermen using bloodworms on the bottom or casting Zara Spooks on the surface.
The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the high 40s and low 50s in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 3. feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 2.7 feet below full pond on Mountain Island Lake.
Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and a full-time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman. Visit his web site, or call 704-617-6812. For additional information, e-mail him at Gus@