Fishin’ with Capt. Gus! Area Lake Catfish Update 5/17/15

Dieter - Blue catfish

Photo of Dieter Melhorn holding a forty-five pound Arkansas Blue Catfish

At a recent meeting of the Carolina’s Catfish Club, David Goodfred and Lawrence Dorsey, Fisheries Biologists with the NCWRC, updated members on the condition of the catfish population in area lakes.

Their report on Lake Wylie showed what anglers have been saying for several years – blue catfish are increasing in numbers and in size,while the size of channel cats is declining. The weight-to-length ratio of blue catfish is unusually large compared to those from other reservoirs. In summary, the fishery is in great shape right now. One biologist believes that cat fishing has not reached its peak and will improve over time.

The ongoing study of blue catfish in Lake Norman reinforced what Joe Grist reported in his graduate thesis over a decade ago. “Blue catfish in Lake Norman grow at a slower rate than in other area lakes.

Why this happens has not been scientifically proven, but most facts point to a lack of water flow through the reservoir and low nutritional content that results in a low forage fish base.”

The good news for Lake Norman fishermen is that the blue catfish population is thriving and has not been impacted by recreational or commercial fishing. In fact, there appears to have been an increase in the number of medium size fish (15-30 pounders) over the past two years.

A major concern expressed by club members was the potential negative impact that the sale of large catfish taken from Lake Wylie and sold to “pay lakes”, is having on its trophy blue catfish population.  At present, the sale of catfish from Lake Wylie to private lakes is legal with no restriction on size or numbers. This is also the case on Lake Norman and Badin Lake, with one exception. The daily limit is one, for blue catfish greater than 32 inches.

Special thanks to Dieter Melhorn, President of the Carolina Catfish Club (, for providing this summary and for the club member’s support of conservation efforts on area lakes.

Tips from Capt. Gus: Big catfish prefer live or fresh dead bream, perch, shad, herring, and even another catfish if they can swallow it.  Smaller fish, usually channel cats, will hit a variety of table scraps. Hot dogs, shrimp, chicken parts and small chunks of spam are favorites with bank fishermen.

Upcoming Events:  Free Fishing Seminar – “Fishing Terminology” – Knowing the language is important in every sport, and fishing is no different. During this session, you will learn the meaning of many terms used in day-to-day fishing conversations. For example, the differences between hook sizes #5 and #5/0 or Umbrella and Alabama Rigs vs. Texas and Carolina Rigs will be explained. Jake Bussolini and I will conduct this ninety minute session at 6:30 p.m. on May 20th at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville, NC. For more information, call 704 658 0822.

Hot Spots of the Week: Top water fishing is excellent for bass at daylight. Poppers and buzz-baits thrown near rip-rapped points are best. Surface feeding is also occurring on early mornings in back coves and boat basins. Docks, rocks and the deep sides of points are good mid-day locations to cast soft plastics and crank baits. Crappies are gathered over deep brush and around bridge pilings. Best baits are small minnows. Warming water temperatures have shell crackers hitting worms suspended below floats cast along the shoreline. White perch fishing is picking up. Large schools can be found in water from fifteen to thirty feet deep.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the seventies in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 2.0 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.5 feet below on Mountain Island Lake.

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an outdoor columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his web site, or call 704-617-6812.


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