A good college friend has retired on North Carolina’s Lake Norman. She has shared some views from her deck of a peaceful winter lake where only the birds and an occasional howl of a coyote break the silence. But that will all change very soon as the invited anglers descend on the Charlotte area impoundment to vie for Major League Fishing’s RedCrest Cup. We’re just a couple of weeks away from this Bass Pro Tour Championship event. The qualifying pros worked hard throughout 2022 to earn a shot a $300,000 payday. Pros who know Norman, like Kevin VanDam who recently announced 2023 will be his last on the tour, will tell you that it’s full of healthy largemouth and spotted bass. On top of that, the size of fish has improved over the years giving the 40-angler field plenty of opportunity as each applies their strengths. Over the five days March 8-12 fans who live in or visit the area can attend the REDCREST Outdoor Sports Expo at The Park Expo Center in Charlotte.
Fishing on Lake Norman features Striped Bass(now mostly Hybrid), Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted Bass, Blue/Channel/Flathead Catfish and Crappie. Each year, anglers are drawn to the area for fishing tournaments, and fishing has made a substantial contribution to the local economy, including local guide services and tackle shops . All of Norman’s game fish were introduced by humans, as the lake was man-made. Striped bass and Blue Catfish were introduced to control Shad populations. Flathead Catfish were introduced illegally, and, unlike Blues, the Flathead is predatory and feeds on other fish. Rising water temperatures into the 2000s pushed the Striped Bass to the brink of extinction. Eventually, Spotted Bass were introduced, as they can exist in warmer waters. Now, Spotted and Hybrid Striped-Spotted Bass are the main sport fish in Lake Norman.
Lake Norman is the largest man-made body of fresh water in North Carolina. It was created between 1959 and 1964 as part of the construction of the Cowans Ford Dam on the Catawba River by Duke Energy. Long before the river was dammed the surrounding area was home to the Catawba people of North Carolina. The Catawba Nation, which now has a reservation in Rock Hill, South Carolina, lived along the Catawba River for 6,000 years. The River has long been a part of the historical narrative of the areas as it provided settlers with water and key routes for travel and commerce. After being impounded, Lake Norman was drained into Mountain Island Lake to the south. It was named after former Duke Power president Norman Atwater Cocke. The lake is 34 miles long, 9 miles wide, offers 520 miles of shoreline and a surface area slightly in excess of 50 square miles. The Dam provides electricity to the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. The area surrounding the lake has a diversity of birds, mammals and plants.
Lake Norman is an excellent year-round destination for largemouth and spotted bass fishing. Shad and bluegill are significant sources of forage. Popular bass haunts are boat docks, points, humps, rip-rap, bridge pilings, submerged road beds, backs of creeks and the two hot water discharge chutes associated with the power stations. The single most popular place to fish for bass on Lake Norman is the hot water discharge at the McGuire Nuclear Station. Bass will hit a variety of baits during late winter/early spring on Lake Norman, including swimbaits, jigs, Alabama rigs and crankbaits. Local Hank Cherry targets shallow waters around riprap banks and boat docks late in the winter, when warm-water outflow from a Duke Power facility allows fish to be active in cold weather.