My Latest New Book

My Latest New Book
Fishing Different

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Strange Looking Bass Isn't Strange at All

A friend of my, Bob Curan, a Lake Norman guide, recently told me about a bass that he caught that had strange black blotches over its body. On first description, I thought it might be a Sauger, that has dark blotches on its body. Bob contacted the Wildlife Commission and determined that it was a condition called Melanosis, caused by over-exposure to the sun. The fish that Bob caught is shown below

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I did some additional research on the subject and found that the condition is relatively common among catfish and bass that have continued heavy exposure to sunlight. The photo shown in the research is shown below.
The two fish look quite similar. The condition is not an infection but a genetic condition that shows up in older mature bass and catfish. It is not transferable to humans and humans cannot get the condition. Fish with this condition are safe to eat as long as they are cooked to at least 145 degrees. The condition results from an overdose of Melanin in the skin, received from continued exposure to sunlight. The clear water on Lake Norman creates a situation where fish can develop the condition more easily than in waters that are less clear or even murky.
Since fish almost never like exposure to the sun. I decided that there is another condition that the bass have that might lend itself to this condition. it is call "stupid bass syndrome."

Friday, June 9, 2017

Crappie May Be Disappearing on Lake Norman

During the last three years or so, we have all been bragging about the large size to the crappie that we have been catching on Lake Norman. Both black and white crappie like the one shown below were being caught in the 12 to 16 in range which is not common for this sought-after fish.
Some of us were wondering why we were  not catching the smaller fish which were always predominant in the lake. The concern we had was that most anglers would tend to keep the bigger fish rather than returning them to the lake, and the fish that had matured to spawn size would eventually disappear resulting in poor annual spawns and the eventual vanishing of the species.

The educated consensus is that the crappie are disappearing in Lake Norman but not because we are keeping the bigger ones but because of the white perch invasion into the lake. I was informed by the experts from the State Wildlife Group who are experts on this lake, that there is repeated history on many Southern lakes, that when white perch invade a specific pattern appears. First the perch eat the eggs of the white bass and eventually eliminate them from a lake. That has already happen on Norman. After the white bass are gone the growing number of white perch compete with the crappie fry for food, eventually starving the small crappie out. We seem to be in that phase at this time. The experts feel that it is only a matter of time before all crappie disappear from Lake Norman and there seems to be nothing that can be done about it.

Nature is doing its thing, but it is unfortunate that we will soon see the demise of crappie in this great lake.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Another Fair Day on he Lake

It's getting better but still not up to par with past seasons. That's the way I find the Lake Norman fishing at this time. It seems to vary by the day,with some days producing nice fish but on other days, the fish are hard to find. One day last week Scott Vic and Richard Mayo got a few nice one on my boat as shown below.

Mayo is an old hand at catching big bass on the lake but for Vic, this was natures Birthday present to him, providing him with some nice bass and a very nice Hybrid Striper. All the fish were caught on live golden shiners. We also learned a lesson that day. When the clouds get black, get off the lake. We pulled up the lines about 5 minutes too late and got hit with that terrible wind and rain storm. Oh well, I got a nice natural rain shampoo.

Friday, June 2, 2017

When do Bass Stop Eating?

I often get this question when discussing different baits or lures to use. Actually under most conditions, bass never stop eating. When pulling in a bass, keep you eyes on the water and you might see several fish swimming up behind your hooked fish. These fish are there to grab the undigested bait fish that the bass throws out when being retrieved. These photos show clearly how much a bass will eat before attacking a bait or lure. The first photo shows a bass swallowing a bream.
One would think that this would be a sufficient meal for this bass but it is not. The photos below shows several other undigested fish in the throat of the bass while it has also been hooked by a lure. I suppose that if this fish is released, it will rest a minute or two before attacking a bait again.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Greatly Improved Fising

Despite the extensive holiday boating traffic and amount of rain that has fallen, the fishing on the Lake is improving but not yet back to its normal level. For the first time in some time I am seeing large schools of shad n the shallower water of the coves. The two shad schools shown were both showing signs of predator activity.
I'm not catching fish in any unusual volume but the sizes are nice with 2 and 3 pound bass a regular catch. I am also seeing a good deal of surface activity indicating that the predators have followed the shad into the shallower water.
I believe that we also had a good bream spawn this Spring because docks are reported to have large groups of small bream lingering around the shallow water of the docks.
White flukes are working as a plastic bait under and around the docks and as always live bait is producing big bass in the deeper water.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lake Norman Fishing Getting Better

In recent weeks the fishing results on the lake have roller coasted up and down. In the most recent bass tournament, the results were very disappointing with very low weights and low catch numbers being reported. Some anglers including the author were reporting a great deal of unknown material in the water, suspended at all levels. This green scum was possibly due to grass that grew when the lake was held at its low level and then died when the water was suddenly raised to full pond levels.

With all the recent rain, this material is rapidly disappearing and signs are that the bass and shad are moving back into the shallower water of the coves and creeks. Bass are still not schooling and there are some signs that the spring spawn has been widely spread out for some fish.

Water temperatures vary in different areas but are generally around 75 degrees. I am catching nice fish around drop offs and at the edges of deep holes. Fish in the shallower water do not seem to be as active as expected with their feeding or aggressive activities. Fish around docks are nice size fish.

Crappie that were very available during early May seem to have disappeared. The perch are back and I'm starting to see some bigger blue catfish getting more active than previous.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Rig For Catfishing

This is the time of the year that many anglers are venturing out on Lake Norman for the big blue catfish or any other species that is hanging around. The Blue cat is the most popular on the lake because they are in good supply and it is not unusual to get one in the 20 pound range. Channel cats are also in good supply but it is rare that you will catch a channel more than three pounds. The ugly Flathead is harder to find but when you get one it is probably a good size.
Chanel cats like stink baits. Blues like cut bait and garlic chicken and Flatheads like live bait. The rig that I use for all three of these monsters is shown below.
You can substitute a slinky weight in place of the lead sinker if you desire. There are less bottom hook ups with the slinky. Make sure the weight is heavy enough to compensate for the size float that you use or the weight will not go to the bottom.

When trolling this rig, you should see the rod tip constantly bouncing, indicating that the weight is running along the bottom. When the rod tip goes down hard and continues to bounce, you have a nice cat.

In my opinion, catfish are the best eating fish on the lake but you don't want to eat a big one 30 inches or longer. The 5 to 8 pound fish provide the best filet. With any luck you should be able to land a fish like the one shown below.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tennessee River Provides Excellent Fishing

For anglers in the Charlotte area, a four hour drive to Lenoir City Tennessee will present some of the best fishing that can be experienced in this part of the country. The creation of several dams and lakes that meet in this area to form the greater Tennessee River offer a wide variety of different fishing conditions from the traditional crappie fishing to nearly all other freshwater species. Big stripers caught in the fast waters below the dams is exciting and productive especially when large amounts of water are being pushed through the dams. I recently spent two days fishing with an experienced guide Bo Rice who knows these waters like the back of his hand. He will put you on fish when no one else can. My fishing partner Howie Anger of Nashville and I caught ten stripers the first morning, all of significant size.Fifteen and twenty pounders were not uncommon as shown below.

We took a break for lunch and did some quiet catfishing and both Howie and I caught our personal best catfish, a 32 pound blue cat for Howie and a 51 pound flathead for me.

The second day we got a late start due to thunder storms but we still had a record day. We caught numerous black drum and 20 huge stripers like the 35 pound fish shown below.
With tired arms and full coolers, we headed home before 2 pm that day, leaving behind some great fishing.