This scenic, 48,000 acre Catawba River impoundment is filled with spotted bass and quality largemouth, and nearby Charlotte offers diverse options after the fishing day ends. It’s FLW Tour Pro Matt Arey’s favorite summer lake, a lake where bass anglers have several options for filling their live well.
“The best bet for big largemouth is fishing bream beds,” shared Arey. “Bluegill spawn in Norman from May through August, with peak spawning on full moons.” They spawn in the same place month after month, year after year; so obviously experience on the lake is a plus. But the bream beds are generally visible in the shallow water. You just have to commit to searching likely looking areas—shallow, sheltered areas with hard bottom—to find the beds. Sometimes you can smell them—a distinct fishy odor—before you see them. Arey coaxes bites around bream beds with a wacky worm, a Pop R, and a Lunkerhunt Popping Frog. Bluegill colors/patterns are most effective, and Arey works his topwaters to make “bluegill popping noises.”
The abundant spotted bass are found offshore. In the morning, Arey fishes areas with surface activity with a swimbait or a Zara spook. Later in the day, Arey tempts bites from the same area with a drop shot. He likes the Lunkerhunt Limit Worm, opting for meatlocker color on cloudy days, obsession for clear days. Buoy-marked hard-bottom or rocky shallow shoals are also prime targets.
Arey’s ace in the hole is Norman’s numerous docks. “Look for docks close to deep water; brush piles are a definite plus,” advises Arey. A shaky head worm or a jig in bluegill colors is the default, but a stickworm is a good option if your electronics are showing suspended fish.
The recipe for success on Norman, according to Arey: “Cover water, and rely on your electronics for the open-water fish. A good dose of confidence and an open mind always help.”