Fishin' with Gus: Summer is time for bass

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 1, 2011

By Capt. Gus
For the Salisbury Post
There don’t seem to be as many fishing boats on the water this June than in years past. It might be because of the economy, the price of gas, or due to an early summer heat wave. For whatever reason, it is not because fishing is slow. In fact, bass are biting better than they have in years.
Spots (spotted bass) are everywhere. Largemouth bass are not as plentiful as in previous years, but seem to be bigger. So, if the heat is the reason you aren’t fishing, just get an early start. Be on the lake by 5:30-6 a.m. and plan to leave before the summer sun gets high in the sky.
Once on the water, here are a few tips to put more bass in the boat. First, keep a watchful eye out for surface feeding bass. Look for swirls and splashes, particularly over river and creek points. Individual, as well as small schools of spots, are “busting” shad throughout the day.
A lot of surface activity occurs at dawn, but the bite continues on most days into the afternoon. Best lures to use are flukes, buzz baits, rattle traps and top water poppers with an ice fly trailer.
If it’s largemouth bass you are interested in catching, cast soft plastics under deep water docks and piers. The bigger fish like lots of shade. Skipping baits way under docks seems to be more productive than casting the outer edges of a platform. Piers with lots of wood pilings, cross-members and a ladder or two attract more big bass.
The many bridges that span Lake Norman are popular haunts for summer bass. It must be the combination of shade, algae, current and the fact that being adjacent to deep water draws fish. Bridge areas should be fished when boat traffic is light. Best bets are the N.C. 150 bridge, the railroad bridge in Mountain Creek and the Buffalo Shoals Road bridge just north of river Marker 25.
The same submerged brush piles that hold summer crappie attract bass as well. The deeper brush is usually where big largemouth bass congregate, while shallow water brush piles are magnets for spotted bass. Weedless, soft plastics and deep diving crank baits are the lures to use when casting into and around brush.
Sonar and GPS have made it easy to locate underwater islands (humps). They attract fish year round and are some of the best places to find summer bass. Humps are numerous throughout the lake, but many of the better sites are in the main river channel and in Mountain, Reed and Davidson Creeks. Humps can be fished in a variety of ways, but for starters, try a shaky-head, bucktail or plastic worm.
Give summer bass fishing a try. There are plenty of fish to be caught.
Upcoming events
The Lake Norman Sail & Power Squadron is conducting Boater Safety Training at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 9 at the Denver United Methodist Church, 3910 N.C. 16, Denver. The cost is $45. Pre-registration is required. For additional information, visit: or call Bob Yannacci at 704-660-5568.
Tips from Capt. Gus
Just like people, boat batteries get hot and need to stay hydrated during the summer. So, check the fluid levels. If low, top off, to prevent over heating during the charging cycle.
Hot Spot of the Week: Bass are schooling on the surface throughout the day and are being caught on top-water lures, Rat-L-Traps, buck tails and spoons. Some stripers are deep in Mountain Creek and the river channel from Marker 8, south to Marker 3. White perch fishing is outstanding; reports of 100 or more perch per trip are common. Catfishing is very good.
Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and a full time fishing guide on Lake Norman. Visit his web site at or call 704-617-6812.