It’s been a strange winter on Lake Norman, and FLW Tour Pro Matt Arey says that until recently high water levels and very stained water conditions made for an unusual bite. Water temperatures also stayed unusually warm well into January.
As the winter winds down that is all changing, however, and for at least a little while fish are in a more typical winter pattern. Matt says this is a direct result of dropping water levels (down to 96.1% of full pool), clearing water conditions and water temperatures in the 40s to low 50s (with two warm-water discharges, one in the lower lake and one around the middle of the lake, there is great temperature variance over the lake). While more traditional shallow “power fishing” techniques including covering a lot of water and throwing a crankbait are still catching fish in the more stained water up the river, in the clearer areas down the lake fish have pulled off the banks and suspended out with the bait. Matt is finding them in 25-50 feet of water around schools of threadfin shad and they are vulnerable to Alabama rigs, grubs and jerkbaits.
Because of the warm-water discharges on Norman Matt says that there is typically spawning activity around the discharges that occurs 3-4 weeks before that on the rest of the lake, and he looks for the first wave of spawning fish to move up on the March full moon. And before that those fish will move into a very heavy pre-spawn feeding period where they will head shallow, get off of the bait bite and primarily eat crawfish. When water temperatures rise just a few more degrees that should all start to take place.