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everythingthatswims

Tour Stop #1 Lake Norman

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The first tournament of the year was a tough one, but we made the most of it. Norman is topographically similar to my home lake, Lake Anna (VA) so I figured it would set up well for me. I was wrong! We spent 5 days practicing in horrendous conditions, and at any point during those 5 days you could have found me scratching my head. I caught spotted bass anywhere from 5' on a moving bait to 35' on a shakey head and drop shot. Largemouth were something we never dialed in on, it seemed too risky to try for them.

 

After scrambling all over the lake for the entirety of practice, the only somewhat consistent bite we found was spotted bass on a shakey head on docks in 15+FOW, the deeper the better. All it required was a steep drop with access to deep water, a channel swing of sorts made it better, brush on the dock was almost a guaranteed bite. The dock wasn't a requirement, but if you had a dock on the right stuff, that's where they'd be, and you didn't have to worry about being thorough in the whole area. The game plan was to run as many deep docks as possible and see where that put us.

 

(Other things that produced fish in practice were a chatterbait, wiggle wart, jerkbait, and even a spook down in the discharge area, but all of the bites were random and we couldn't duplicate any of it)

 

Day one started out well, we caught a decent spot at the first dock we hit, and our second stop produced 4 more keepers, for a limit by 9am, way ahead of schedule. (Our second stop was a large concrete piling in 30FOW, locals probably would know the spot, it's a water intake or something, in Davidson creek). After that we got back to running docks, and made a couple more upgrades. Every time I saw brush on the graph while fishing docks, we would turn around and fish it. We got lucky and stumbled across a brush pile in 35FOW that was stacked, we pulled 5 fish off of it, made 3 culls, and boated our best spot of the day.

 

We continued to catch fish after that, but couldn't upgrade past about 1.5lbs. The sun wasn't forecasted to come out, but it did, and I decided to run up the lake and go flip a jig for largemouth, even though it didn't work for us in practice. Luckily it was a good call and I caught one close to 3lbs, about a 1lb upgrade before we had to head back to weigh-in. 10lbs 1oz for day one had us sitting in 32nd out of 256, we just needed to duplicate our day, which seemed pretty likely given what we had found!

 

On day two, we started off making a run straight to the concrete piling where we caught 5 fish in about 10 minutes the day before, we had left it alone all day so we would have keepers for day two. We had 3 bites, hooked one, and it was a short fish. Not how we wanted to start the day, but we had plenty of other areas. We ran a few good stretches of docks, and did not have a bite. Then we headed to our brush pile that had a ton of fish the day before, and like the concrete piling we had left it alone after fishing it for a short while in order to save some fish for day 2. Once again, not a bite! We were banking on filling out a limit of spotted bass early and then going to look for either a big spot or a largemouth, and here we were at 10am without a fish in the well. 10am is early, but we didn't really have anything left to go to, and running more deep spots when our top notch stuff didn't produce seemed like a bad idea. (to anyone wondering, we did check back up on our deep spots later in the day. If the fish were there, they weren't eating!)

 

We had gotten a lot of rain during practice but the fish had never left their deep spots, the cloud cover and lack of warming water had actually seemed to knock them back, but today they had clearly changed the agenda. I decided to look in the backs of pockets and see if there were any culverts kicking out water, we weren't in a largemouth-y part of the lake but I figured if any were around, that is where they would be. In addition to water flowing in, the lake had risen at least a foot and a half, which made me think that some fish would definitely move up. In the first pocket I checked, water went from 49 to 50.5 when the boat entered the dirty runoff. Promising, but not a big enough change for it to be something special. There was a culvert in this pocket coming from a golf course, and I missed a fish on a black & blue jig right where it dumped in. This was promising, and since our spotted bass stuff was dead, we started running more pockets with runoff flowing into them.

 

I pitched a jig at any hard cover in the pockets, including the newly flooded bushes, while my partner fan casted a double Colorado blade chartreuse spinnerbait. In the second pocket we hit, my partner locked up on a brute of a lake Norman largemouth, a fish probably pushing 5lbs, we were pumped! With that fish in the boat, all we had to do was fill a limit to be sitting pretty at the end of the day. We continued running more pockets, and they all looked great, plenty of cover in the backs, and often they had small creeks pushing out water. After maybe 10 more pockets, I caught about a 2lb largemouth on a spinnerbait, right where a runoff creek dumped into a pocket. I thought we had put the puzzle together, but after running around for another 2 hours, we hadn't had another bite. With a kicker already in the well, we decided to head to a new area of the lake where we had caught spotted bass in practice and on day one of the tournament. We scrambled and scrambled, but we just could not make it happen. We ended up pulling one keeper spot out of a brush pile we found in 30FOW, but that was our only bite for the rest of the day.

 

I am still really surprised by how bad the fishing was given the conditions. It really did not seem that bad. Water was fairly clean, the water temperatures were in the 48-50 degree range, and there are tons of bass in that lake. I can't believe I fished HARD for an entire day and got 2 bites total. It makes sense when conditions are really bad, but they weren't. Still scratching my head on this one!

 

We finished the tournament with a two day total of 18lbs even, which put us in 31st place out of 256 boats, we missed a national championship qualification by 10 ounces, so one more fish would have done it. At the same time, one less 5 pound largemouth would have dropped us into the 80s. Which still isn't that bad out of 256 boats, like I said, it was TOUGH! Next stop is Kentucky Lake in early March!

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Way to Grind ~ 

Thanks for sharing and good luck on Kentucky Lake.

:smiley:

A-Jay

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Well done Nolan, looking forward to following you this year! 

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Nice job! Good luck on Ky lake! It will be rolling fast 

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The only way to overcome adversity is to keep on keeping on. :thumbsup: Go after that big bag on Kentucky Lake.

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Great job and great read as always! 

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:drinking-41:

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Great approach and execution.  Sometimes they just don't bite.  

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Sounds like you made the most from a difficult two days of fishing.  Good fishing on KY lake.  Your write ups are excellent.  Almost like being in the boat with y'all.

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Nice write up.  You'll clean up next time.

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Im from Nc, but i avoid Norman. My buddy zeroed in the BFL recently. He is usually a top finisher. Nice work 

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Thanks for the write up. Hoping yall tear em up on ky. lake.

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way to go guys , I asm always excited to read on how you boys are doing. you do a great job of writing on conditions, baits , areas, and so forth.keep up the hard work , I know we will see a podium. :clap:

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Norman is tough fishing.  It's way over-crowded and there are not many large mouth, all spots. Don't really ever hear of any big Bass coming out of there. I avoid it at all costs.

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Norman is, and always has been an enigma. it’s my home lake and we fish it alot. it will drive you nuts sometimes. we’ve given it the nick name of “Lake Need-a-Bite”. 

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