It’s generally pretty easy to tell which lakes are my favorites. Just check out the standings and see where I finished. Most of the time, lakes that result in paychecks are tops on my list. The one exception to that rule would have to be Lake Norman in North Carolina.
I’ve had about 10 days to reflect on my trip there for the B.A.S.S. Southern Open and despite a somewhat embarrassing finish there, I really still love to fish that place. After all, what’s not to like. I fished 8 days and easily had over 400 bites, caught tons of fish and it’s still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever fished.
I put together what I felt like was a pretty good game plan. Over the practice days, I could catch a ton of fish using a Zoom Fluke and a Strike King Ocho fishing boat docks and the riprap between them. The thing that stood out during practice was how grouped up the bass were. You could fish several areas that were identical, but only a couple of them would be holding fish. I never did manage to determine why some areas were better but you could fish fast and cover a lot of ground, so it was pretty easy to find the fish.
Bigger fish were a different story. Still, even with the 14” minimum, I felt like I could catch 8-10 pounds a day. Not spectacular, but good enough for a decent finish. I just never got a decent bite during the two competition days. The thing about lakes with lots of fish, without many big ones, is that the field will really get bunched up. I was only 6 pounds out of the money, but that was 105 places out. One good bite each day would have made a huge difference and catching my 5th fish on Friday would have helped.
What I missed during practice was that there were still a lot of fish bedding farther up river. I looked and looked but didn’t see that until the last day of practice and by that time, I didn’t have the time to find and mark some big ones. Looking back, that’s the one thing I wish I’d done differently. I felt like the fish I was catching on the docks were bedding because of the way they were biting. You could miss one, throw it back in and they’d hit it again in the same place. Also, I broke a lot of worms off behind the hook when I’d swing on one, so they were picking it up by the back end. Having seen them do that hundreds of times on the beds, I knew that’s what was going on, even though I couldn’t see these beds.
But that’s all in the past. Later this week, I’m headed out to Table Rock for the B.A.S.S. Central Open. Table Rock has the numbers of fish, as well as the bigger fish that I’ll need to do well, so I’m looking forward to the trip. It also has a bunch of big smallmouth, so it’ll be a blast.
As far as Lake Norman goes, it’s still one of my favorite places to go and I hope it’s on the schedule for next year. After all, I got to fish one of the most beautiful lakes in the country for 8 days, catch a bunch of bass and spend time with a great group of fishermen. Then I got to come home a couple of weeks and I get to go to Table Rock and do it all over again. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Scoutlookweather.com, Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, BoatUS Angler, Power Pole, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Bass Angler Magazine and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.