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: April-May 2019

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 are going full blast.


"Whopper Ploopers have taken our topwater fishing to new heights," he said. "They are great lures for fishing the beds."

After they spawn, bass will move to the points in May, where Alabama rigs with Keitech Easy Shiners are good to go. Vack's spinnerbats and Bill Norman N series crankbaits will also work well for fishing the rocks and docks. For covering a lot of water, ripping a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap works wonders. On slower days, bouncing a Zoom Trick Worm or Speed Craw on the bottom should wake them up.


Striper anglers should cast Storm swimbaits and Super Spooks to the main lake points early and late. Live bait anglers should catch stripers by trolling live shad on light lines. Heading to the upper dam early should reveal plenty of shad for laying in the bait supply.


Crappie anglers should drop minnows and jigs to the brush piles in early April. As the water warms, crappie will move to the banks. Trolling a Bobby Garland jig in Electric Chicken color will along the bank contours should entice crappie to strike.

Channel catfish will eat chicken livers, night crawlers, shad, stink baits and blood baits. Soaking a sponge hook with Hog Wild dip bait is a surefire way to catch them.


Lake Norman

Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing with Gus, 704-617-6812) said crappie will be everywhere.


"In early April crappie are holing up on the deeper brush piles," he said. "But, anglers can still locate some residual spawning crappie by casting jigs to the banks and deeper docks. A slip float rig baited with a minnow is the best bet, no matter where the crappie are, and the same rig may also catch white perch and spotted bass."


Bass will bite soft creature baits on Carolina rigs flipped to docks, points and brush, with the best colors greens and blues. Topwater anglers will find excitement from mid-April on, with Whopper Ploppers, chugging lures and poppers drawing explosive strikes. For the subsurface bite, Shad Rap and Rat-L-Trap lures rule.


Catfish anglers should anchor their boat on a point and fish drop shad or chicken flavored with garlic to the bottom. Chumming with cut fish will draw catfish near.


By May, white perch will be smashing Sabiki rigs and spoons. They will school at 20 feet in the coves, where anglers can spot them with electronics.


Hybrid bass will migrate upriver in April. Fishing should be good between the trestle and Lookout Shoals Dam. Small lures will work best, with bucktail jigs, Rat-L-Traps and Kastmaster spoon the best options.

Lake Wylie

Jerry Neeley (Carolina’s Fishing Guide Service, 704-678-1043) said bass would be bedding.


"The bass will be on secondary points or bedding back in the coves," he said. "A floating worm, topwater lure or swimbait cast on top of the beds will catch some of the biggest fish of the year. On the secondary points, a No. 7 Shad Rap works well. If those tactics aren't working, try slowing down and fishing a Carolina rig with a creature bait."


Crappie-attacking tactics include trolling jigs on long lines and tight lines in the creeks. The best way to encounter crappie is following a creek channel from the mouth to the back of a cove. Crappie will also be on brush, lay-downs and stick-ups. A cast to anything sticking out of the water should catch crappie.


Catfish anglers should use their electronics to find white perch and fish beneath the schools. Trolling Santee rigs from the mouth of a creek to the middle should result in big catches of blue cats.


Lake Wateree

Bryan Rice (Bryanricefishing.com), a professional angler on the FLW T&H Marine BFL circuit, said Wateree's bass are in their pre-spawn pattern.


"During the pre-spawn, I pound the points with jerkbaits," he said. "My favorite lures are the Bay Rat Lures Splash Rat suspending jerkbait and the S3 floating jerkbait. I cast a jerkbait right on top of a bed with a spinning rig spooled with Balsax Iguana copolymer line. The copolymer has a little stretch to it, which keeps me from jerking the hook free when setting the hook. The line is green so fish can't see it."


In May, buzzbaits and Whopper Ploppers are good early morning topwater lures. Most bass have finished spawning, so anglers should try casting medium-depth crankbaits away from the beds to locate any spawned-out females. Good lures include square-billed crankbaits such as the Bay Rat Battle 1.5.


For fishing heavy cover, a Zorro spinnerbait will get her done without hanging. A silver willow-leaf blade works best in clear water and a gold India blade works best in stained water. Another good timber rig is a Carolina-rigged, 7-inch, curly-tailed lizard or a watermelon-red-flake or green pumpkin Senko Missile. If the water is dark, a black soft plastic should seduce them.




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