Mike Marsh Outdoors

Mike Marsh’s book, Fishing North Carolina, shares his best-kept secrets for fishing 100 lakes, rivers, ponds, sounds and piers.


To order:

Fishing North Carolina ($26.60),

Inshore Angler:

Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide ($26.20),


Offshore Angler:

Coastal Carolina’s Mackerel Boat Fishing Guide ($22.25)


mail a check or money order to:


Mike Marsh

1502 Ebb Drive

Wilmington, NC 28409

or visit www.mikemarshoutdoors.com

for credit card orders.




Piedmont Lakes Fishing Report: February-March 2021

What to expect when you head out to fish the lakes of the Piedmont over the next few weeks. Get a clue from noted outdoor writer Mike Marsh.

Catawba Reservoirs


Lake Hickory

Randy Moose (Lyndon's Riverview Sports, 828-632-7889) said bass fishing will pick up steam as the water warms.


"In February, the bass will be in deep water," he said. "By March, they will be moving into the usual shallow places, especially sunlit banks and areas with good structure."


Spinnerbaits and crankbaits will incite the most strikes. A Rapala DT6 Rapala in Pumkinseed color is a go-to crankbait for bass.


The best striper action will on live shad fished on unweighted and weighted lines, with drifting and slow trolling the best methods best. When they run baitfish to the surface at rocky points, stripers will smash Storm swimbaits and topwater walk-the-dog lures including Super Spooks and Chug'n Spooks in chartreuse or bone colors.


Channel catfish will strike chicken livers, night crawlers and cut shad at the main lake points. The best prepared stink bait is Magic Bait in chicken blood or beef blood flavors.


Crappie will be schooling in deeper brush piles. Anglers will catch them by dropping live minnows, chartreuse Panfish Assassins or chartreuse-and-red Mizmo jigs.


Lake Norman

Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing With Gus, 704-617-6812) said the sun warming the backs of the creeks will move all many species of fish into shallow areas.


"By the first of March, fish will be in all of the creeks, with Ramsey, McCrary, Mountain, Reed, and Terrapin creeks some of the best places. Anglers can also find the shad schools in the deep water at the mouths of the creeks with their depthfinders. Any fish that feeds on shad will be around those schools."


Largemouth bass, spotted bass, white perch and crappie should bite best at dawn. As the sun moves up, bass will move to the structure areas on the secondary points in their pre-spawn pattern. Bass will also be lurking on the stumps at primary points and on the sunlit side of docks. Crankbaits with large bills that ricochet off cover will elicit impulse strikes.


Hybrids will be schooling at the hot holes before they begin swimming upstream in the Catawba River above the I-40 Bridge. They will strike live baits, spoons and jigs.

Crappie will be scattered, but will start schooling more densely on the brush piles by late March. Live minnows and jigs will catch them.

Lake Wylie

Jerry Neeley (Carolina’s Fishing Guide Service, 704-678-1043) said the action will start slow and speed up fast.


"In February, crappie will be schooling at 30 to 40 feet in the deep creeks," he said. But, on warm days, they will begin moving to shallower water. Using your electronics is key to finding them."


Tight line minnow rigs with one-half ounce weights work best. Neeley trolls tight line rigs two turns of the reel handle off the bottom. In March, when most of the crappie head for the shallower water, he trolls long-lines rigged with jigs and minnows.


Bass will hit spinnerbaits, swimbaits and Chatterbaits cast to laydowns, stumps and rocks. A jig cast to the sunlit sides of floating docks is also a good bet. On warmer days, hitting the backs of secondary cove shorelines with a gold Rapala Minnow or a crawdad color Shad Rap is another good tactic. A pink floating worm may also get some attention.


Catfish anglers can find the fish in the creeks. But, if they don't show on the screen, they may be too shallow to see, so anglers should not neglect trolling or casting baits along the edges. If nothing is happening in the creeks, the fish will always hit cut white perch trolled on the main lake flats.


White perch will school at 20 to 40 feet, where a two-hook minnow rig or Sabiki rig baited with fish will catch them. Anglers can find perch with a depthfinder and any crappie feeding on them will hit the same offerings.


Lake Wateree

Bryan Rice (Bryanricefishing.com), MLS/BASS professional angler and touring event angler, said Wateree's bass will jump all over jerkbaits and crankbaits.


"When it's cold, bass will hit hard jerkbaits, crankbaits and jigs," he said. "My favorite jerkbait is the Bay Rat Slash Rat, but I also like casting the Bay Rat medium divers in crayfish, red and shad colors."


Bass will be on the points and drops as well as the deeper docks in February. Then, as the water warms into the mid-50s, they will be moving into the shallower areas in their pre-spawn pattern. When the fish are shallow, they are fattening on baitfish, so they will be hitting anything that looks like a herring.


By late March, when the water temperatures reach 55 to 60 degrees, bass will be hitting buzzbaits ripped over the shallow water brush piles and channel breaks. Soft baits like Senkos and flukes will also hook them up.



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