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  Piedmont Lakes Fishing Report

February - March 2014
By Mike Marsh

Mike Marsh’s book, Fishing North Carolina, unlocks fishing secrets at 100 lakes, rivers, ponds, sounds and piers. To order Fishing North Carolina ($26.60), Inshore Angler – Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide ($26.20) and Offshore Angler – Coastal Carolina’s Mackerel Boat Fishing Guide ($22.25) mail check or MO to Mike Marsh, 1502 Ebb Drive, Wilmington, NC 28409 or visit www.mikemarshoutdoors.com for credit card orders.



Catawba River Reservoirs

Lake Wylie

Jerry Neeley (Carolina’s Fishing Guide Service, 704-678-1043) said crappie anglers would be happy.

On warm February days, the crappie follow bait into creek mouths," he said. "We will fish the docks with brush at 12 to 14 feet and catch the biggest crappie of the year. We shoot jigs under deeper docks and fish tight lines on shallower docks."

In March's muddy water, anglers should cast a chartreuse 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with Colorado blades to the fallen trees. By the end of March, a black-and-blue jig-n-pig, Rapala minnow or floating worm cast to shallow cover is a good bet.

Catfish will bite on main lake flats where anglers locate schools of white perch. Cut perch is the best bait. Anglers should troll very slowly for best results.



Lake Hickory

David Williams (Riverview Sports, 828-632-7889) said stripers would bite in the main channel.

"They will school on the points in the evenings," he said. "Free-lining shiners, trolling plugs and casting bucktails are the best ways to catch them."

Bass will pile up on the points, orienting to rocks and brush in deep water. Alabama rigs and suspending jerk baits fished at 15 to 20 feet are the best bets.

Crappie will school in brush piles at 20 feet. Minnows are the best baits in cold weather. Anglers will also catch fish using Bobby Garland jigs in shad colors, with Albino, Monkey Milk and Hologram Ghost the hottest colors when the water begins to warm in March.

Some of the biggest blue catfish of the year will be biting cut baits. Flatheads will eat live baits.


  Lake Norman

Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing With Gus, 704-617-6812) said bass will be in pre-spawn condition.

"When it gets into the 60s, they start spawning in sandy coves where the water warms up faster or anywhere the turbidity makes the water warm," he said. "You can use a shaky-head worm to aggravate bedding fish into striking. A good way to find the beds is by throwing a golf ball near them. When you return, it is easier to see the golf ball than the bed in the dingy water."

The bass do not spawn at the same time and some will not spawn at all. However, other patterns will work. Other good lures include Alabama rigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Anglers should pitch soft plastics to the bottom along 10- to 12-foot drop-offs along the banks, casting as close to boat docks or other structure as possible. When entering a cove, the best bet is fishing the first and last docks, unless you know where there are docks with brush piles in the middle.

Crappie action will be on fire by March, with fish that are larger than in past years. In March they will move from 12 to 14 feet to the shallow blow-downs. Feather jigs, tube jigs and crappie minnows fished in cover will catch them.

Hybrids stocked last year will bump the 16-inch size limit. Anglers should examine all retained white perch to make sure they are not hybrids.

White perch will be eating bass and crappie eggs. Casting a spoon or small spinner in shallow water is the way to jerk perch.

For blue catfish, anglers should troll or drop cut baits or chicken breasts laced with garlic scent. For channel catfish, chicken livers and stinkbaits work best.

  Lake Wateree

Andy Owens (Vengeance Tackle, 803-669-2624) said March is a top month for catching big largemouth bass.

"If the weather cooperates with lots of sun, the water temperatures should creep into the mid 50's to low 60's," he said. "For largemouth bass, this starts spawning season. The fish will move shallow to the secondary rocky points and the docks in the backs of creeks and pockets."

As the waters warming, the fish will be in the shallowest water of the year. Anglers should cast to stumps, retaining walls, docks, rocks, old tires and fallen trees because fish bed around structure. Some of the best baits are large, thumping spinnerbaits, Shad Raps and other crankbaits, plus jig-n-pigs in a variety of sizes and colors. Anglers should try a moderately slow presentation and if that doesn't produce, speed up the presentation. Once the angler finds the right color and speed, he can wind up with the biggest weight of bass he will catch all year.

For crappie anglers, March is the best month to catch big numbers of large fish. Crappie will move into the creeks and out of deep brush piles. Casting minnows and crappie jigs in a variety of sizes and colors is a sure bet to end up with a mess of good eating fish.

White perch and stripers should be on humps at 20 to 25 feet then move to the shallower sides of humps as the water warms. Vertical jigging a spoon in the1/2- to ¾-ounce range is a good tactic.

Panfish anglers should fish red worms and crickets around boat ramps and docks. Another good bet is casting beside pontoon because the algae growth on the pontoons attracts panfish.

Fishing for blue catfish bite will be good, with some fish weighing 30 to 40 pounds. Best baits include cut bream, shad, chicken livers, and prepared dough baits fished at 10 to 20 feet. No fish with a size limit is legal for use as bait.



Yadkin/Pee Dee River Reservoirs

High Rock Lake

Jerry Hill (Jerry’s Guide Service, 336-247-1265) 9-6782) said High Rock's crappie anglers catch the largest fish in Late Feb and early March.

"They are hugging bottoms in the creeks of bigger coves where they will be spawning," he said. "I put the lures right on the bottom by spider rigging with drop-shot rigs. Keep trolling until you get several marks on the bottom with your depthfinder then stop and fish. Minnows will work better than lures because they will have enough action to catch fish even when you are barely moving. I've found tipping a 1-inch tube jig with a minnow is deadly."

Stripers move to the major creeks. Anglers should look for big schools of baitfish in Crane, Flat Swamp and Abbotts creeks. Some big stripers, with some weighing into the teens, will be feeding in baitfish schools at 8 to 15 feet over 30-foot bottoms.  Blue catfish will be biting on the bottom beneath the same baitfish schools.

In late February and early March, calm weather sends bass to the banks receiving the most sunlight. Flat Swamp Creek has the rockiest banks and clearest water and therefore, the best bass fishing. Anglers should cast suspending jerkbaits and medium-running crankbaits and work them with a slow retrieve.

Tuckertown Lake

Maynard Edwards (Yadkin Lakes Guide Service, 336-249-6782) said Tuckertown has good crappie fishing.

"The crappie will be in 16 to 25 feet of water in the creeks at mouths of the large coves," he said. "We will be spider rigging and using drop-shot rigs."

Edwards uses two hooks or jigs on his dropper rigs and baits some or all of them with minnows in the colder weather.

Tuckertown's bass are big fish. Anglers should catch them by casting crankbaits parallel to the steep, rocky banks. In February, bass are in the creeks, with Riles Creek a hotspot. By March, they will be moving out to the main river, where a No. 5 Shad Rap cast parallel to the bank should entice them.

Badin Lake

Maynard Edwards (Yadkin Lakes Guide Service, Extreme Fishing Concepts, 336-249-6782). Said if the water is clear, everything should bite well in February and March.

"I cast Alabama rigs on the points and humps in the main channel or back in the creeks," he said. "You never know what you are going to catch. It might be a 4-pound largemouth bass or a 10-pound striper. I use 4-inch Zoom Swimming Fluke Juniors on my Alabama rigs."

Crappie fishing in the clear water can be challenging because the fish can be very deep. The lake is full of 14-inch crappie so it is worth going to the extra trouble. The fish will be on the bottom in 35 to 40 feet of water. If there are fish marks showing that deep, the angler should drag jigs or drop-shot rigs baited with minnows through the marks to see if they are crappie.

The biggest fish catfish bite best in the coldest weather. The best catfish action should be the dam. Cut shad is the best bait.

Lake Tillery

Joe Aldridge (Joe’s Bait & Tackle, 704-982-8716) said crappie fishing fires off in February.

“The crappie will be schooling deep at 20 to 30 feet," he said. "Brush piles are the best places to fish and minnows will be the best bait. A lot of fishermen will use Kalin jigs in blue-back/chartreuse, Acid Rain and Wally World colors."

White perch will school on points at 20 feet. Anglers should use ice flies with spinners and cut shad fished on bottom rigs to catch them. Some of the best places to catch crappie and perch are Jacobs Creek, Mountain creek and near Randalls Church.

Bass fishermen should cast Alabama rigs and crankbaits to the banks along the main channel. Another good pattern is casting to piers in to 8 to 10 feet of water.

Stripers will be under the gulls. If the fish are visible, Zara spooks and chuggers will catch them. If they are deeper, casting a bucktail jig or trolling a soft shad lure or a Cordell Redfin on a No. 1 planer is a good bet. The best striper fishing will occur from Jim Garrison Bridge down to Hydro.



Fishing Report Quick Links:
Lake Norman
Lake Hickory
Mountain Island
Lake Wylie
Lake Wateree
High Rock Lake
Tucker Town
Badin Lake
Lake Tillery

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