Lake Norman Set For a Shootout
Published on 03-13-2022
Lake Norman Set For a Shootout
By Pete Robbins
Lake Norman is one of the toughest events regularly on the Big Bass Tour schedule, not because it’s tough fishing – on the contrary, competitors can expect to catch lots of largemouth and spotted bass – but rather because the weights tend to be so tight. We’ve weighed in one bass there over 7 pounds in the last seven events, back in April of 2019, and the winner is usually a 6-plus, with a trail of 5-pounders bringing up the top 10. You’re just as likely to have none over 6 pounds as you are to have two or three of them.
That leaves anglers with a competitive conundrum. If you catch a 4- or 5-pounder, do you weigh it in at a given hour. Even 3-pounders grab hourly checks. The big, developed lake in the Charlotte suburbs prevents great strategic questions.
Veteran Bassmaster pro Shane LeHew has plenty of experience on Norman, and thoughts about how to catch bigger-than-average bass there. The three-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier would look super-shallow for this upcoming three-day test of the best. While the weekend prior was marked by freezing temperatures and precipitation, there’s a warming trend heading into the tournament and it should be comfortable and warm every day.
“There is a full moon so I would probably be fishing some shallow docks and looking for one on the bed,” he explained. The best docks will likely be very shallow, with big black floats to hold warmth, and brush underneath definitely help. “Those big females stage on the shallowest docks.”
The good news for competitors is that they should be able to spread out. No single section of Norman has a stranglehold on the biggest largemouths. “It could be good up lake around the 150 area,” LeHew explained. “That’s probably a place for a big largemouth. Even midlake around Governor’s Island could be a layer. The water temperatures are in the upper fifties now. It’s still a little cold. People always say that 62 degrees is the magic number for them to spawn, but if you have the right conditions, like a full moon, they’ll want to get up there.”
He'd also consider making a long run up the river to try to get into the muddier water. There’s been a lot of rain lately, and that section of the lake tend to be colder than everywhere else. Tie of a vibrating jig and get to work. “It’s almost like three lakes in one,” he stated.
His primary tool around the docks would be a Berkley MaxScent General, although he wouldn’t hesitate to mix in a belly-weighted 5- or 6-inch Berkley Hollow Belly to tempt a true giant to grab an easy meal.
While a largemouth will almost certainly claim big bass honors and probably the entirety of the top ten, anglers looking for hourly checks could also focus on or spend some time chasing the lake’s prolific spotted bass. They might not frequently show up in the 4-pound-plus range, but there are plenty of threes that can put money in your pocket. He’d focus down lake with a Berkley Stunna jerkbait to fire them up. There may also still be a deep bite for spotted bass and his primary tool in that situation would be a 4-inch Berkley General on a Half Head Jig.
Anglers can expect to catch lots of bass anytime we visit Norman in the spring, but catching the right one will require a bit of luck, a bit of strategy, and close attention to the live leaderboard.
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