NORM! CHEERS TO LAKE NORMAN, NC
Big power companies usually get a bad rap from outdoor advocates. But that has not stopped Duke Energy from pushing the fishing industry forward in North Carolina due to its investment in building major impoundments. One of them, Lake Norman, will play host to the final Bassmaster Southern Open this week. The dam was finished in 1964 creating the largest lake in North Carolina. Fed by the Catawba River, Norman has 520 miles of shoreline and a surface area of more than 50 square miles. Given Duke Energy’s interest, it is not surprising that Norman provides electricity to the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. The lake is 33.6 miles long, 9 miles wide, and has an average depth is 33.5 feet.
Duke has played an integral part in recreation on the lake. Lake Norman is highly accessible to residents of Charlotte, causing an influx of homes, restaurants, golf courses, and various recreational facilities to flood the region. The company has constructed areas for public fishing as well as boating access around the lake, and in December 2017, Duke received approval to
create an estimated 89 recreation sites on the lake. The project is estimated to take about 20 years, and facilities are projected to include more fishing grounds and boat ramps as well as campgrounds, parking lots, and picnic areas.
Fishing on Lake Norman consists primarily of Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass, Catfish and Bluegill. Each year, anglers are drawn to the area for fishing tournaments which have contributed significantly to the local economy including local guide services and tackle shops. Striped bass were introduced for fishing purposes, and Blue Catfish to control the Shad populations. Managing fish populations is important on Lake Norman. Recreational sportfishing is the main mode of fishing on the lake. Many of the fish were artificially introduced by fishing clubs and organizations so the fish population is quite diverse, including crappie, walleye and sauger, large and smallmouth bass and spotted bass. Stripers are still the most popular fish.
The final Southern Division event will determine the divisional points winner and move one step closer to crowning the overall Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year, with only the
Central Open at Lewis Smith Lake and Grand Lake remaining. The competition begins Sept. 23 and culminates in the Championship Round on the 25th. Day 1 &2 Weigh-ins will be held at the Blyth Landing Park at 3 p.m. The Day 3 weigh-in will be at the Bass Pro Shops in Concord Mills, N.C., at 4 p.m.
It will be an interesting scenario for the anglers, as water temperatures are reading in the upper 70s to low 80s, and that still indicates summer patterns. Currently Norman is a little more than 3 feet below full pool. A lot of the fish are still schooled up out in the middle of the lake or in the main-river channels. They haven’t really made a push to the bank or to the creeks. Locals say the bass are following the bait (blueback herring, alewives, threadfin shad and gizzard shad) from one region of the lake one day to wherever the bait moves the next. The fishery has shifted somewhat where the largemouth now take a backseat to the spotted bass and fishery management estimates that the population could be as high as 80/20 spots to largemouth. That means a kicker largemouth could make a big difference at the scales.
Norman offers plenty of structure offshore, but a lot of anglers will spend at least part of their time on the bank looking for largemouth around docks, brush and shallow rock, using flipping, cranking and walking baits. With rock and brush as the dominant habitat, shaky heads, small swimbaits and top-waters will see action. With the prevalence of spots, locals predict a 12-pound daily average bag will win the event. Tennessee’s Jacob Foutz, local NC angler David Williams, Blake Smith of Florida, and Alabama Elite angler Keith Poche sit atop of the Southern Division points standings while Virginia’s Jacob Powroznik is leading the Falcon Rods Opens Angler of the Year race.