LeHew Expects Most of Norman’s Bass to Still be Pre-Spawn
Published on 03-15-2023
By Pete Robbins
Recently, Elite Series pro Shane LeHew fished a tournament on his home waters of Lake Norman in which one fish almost 8 pounds and another over 7 were brought to the scales. Bass were starting to move up to bed, and while LeHew doesn’t doubt that several fish over 7 pounds could show up again during the upcoming Big Bass Tour event, he would like to see a warming trend to really push them up.
Despite the cooler temps, he expects that the BBT competitors will be hitting the lake exactly right. Norman is incredibly fertile right now, and the fish want to be moving shallow, even if they’re not locked down. “You can win this event from the bottom of the lake to the top, but I’d expect the best fishing to be mid-lake, somewhere around the Highway 150 area.”
In recent years, the spotted bass have proliferated heavily throughout the lake, and historically the largemouths have been best in distinct areas, but now the two populations are increasingly mixed. “You can catch a largemouth while you’re fishing for spots, and you can catch spots while you’re fishing for largemouths.” One way to deter some of the smaller fish from biting is to utilize larger lures like a Berkley Hollow Belly or a large glide bait. Those tools are particularly apt to catch a giant pre-spawn sow looking for one last giant meal.
LeHew would keep several other key lures on deck, like a Berkley Stunna jerkbait. He wouldn’t pause it for as long or fish it as deep as he might have a month ago, but the lure continues to produce lots of fish. He also consistently employs a Berkley 3/8 or ½ ounce Berkley Skipping Jig to ply Norman’s docks. He believes that most of the best largemouths will be on shallower docks, or those “in the creeks with a little bit of color.”
Due to the consistently high amount of fishing pressure at Norman this time of year, he wouldn’t discount finesse tactics, like a Berkley Bottom Hopper on a 1/8 ounce shakey head. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the tournament was won that way,” he said. “I’d fish as many docks as I possibly could,” especially if he could find some that hadn’t yet been fished by other competitors.
While it typically takes a fish at least in the 6 pound class to win a springtime Big Bass Tour event on Lake Norman, a fish of that size is no guarantee of victory. Last year the winning fish weighed 7.17, and there were four over 6 pounds behind it. In 2019, the winner pushed the scales to 7.34. More than just about any of our other tournaments, this is also one where hourly checks can be claimed by bass that are substantially smaller, so pay attention to the live leaderboard and choose your weigh-in times strategically.
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