Differences between Lakes Norman and Badin, Tillery, High Rock and Mtn. Island Lake

Discussion in 'NORTH CAROLINA LAKES / RESERVOIRS' started by Mac-b, Oct 5, 2007.

  1. Mac-b

    Mac-b Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    19,241
    State:
    North Caro
    Lake Norman: 35,000 plus acres, 520 miles of shore line. Little or no noticable current. No major under water structures or log piles. On the average LKN water temp. is higher than most lakes in this area. More open acreage and thus more lake wind. Ample bait in spots thru out the lake.

    High Rock Lake: 15,000 acres and 350 miles of shore line. Suffient current to activate the fish. Structure below the surface and plenty of crappie brush. Good crappie and bait population and thus nice flatheads.

    Badin Lake: 5,300 acres and length of shoreline unknown to me. Suffient current to activate the fish. Plenty of white perch, bream, shad, etc. for the flats and blues to feed on. Under water structures (maybe an airplane), plus rocks, etc.

    Lake Tillery: 5,000 acres and 104 miles of shoreline. Suffient current to activate the fish. Plenty of bait. Underwater structures.

    Mtn. Island Lake: 4,000 acres and length of shoreline unknown to me. Suffient current at times to activate a good bite. Plenty of bait. Underwater structure, etc.

    What does all this mean to the catfisherman/woman when they consider fishing one or two of the foregoing lakes. First thing is quite obvious and that is that LKN is twice as large as High Rock, seven times larger than Badin and Tillery and 8 times larger than Mtn. Island. Is size important, I believe that a smaller lakes offer more opportunties than a larger lake. It is true that LKN has some big cats and enjoyed the honor of having the State record blue for several years.The other four lakes enjoy current at different times of the day, which LKN does not enjoy. I think all five lakes enjoy suffient bait fish for the cats and other species. Structure, structure, that is the name of the game, whether it be brush, logs, airplanes, etc., you need structure for big fish. LKN bottom is smooth as a babies butt. Do people catch big trophy fish on LKN, sure they do but not in the numbers we are growing accustom to on the other four lakes.

    So, if you want to work seven or eight times harder to catch a trophy fish than you would on Badin, Tillery and Mtn. Island, come on down or up. We've got them, you just have to work a little extra hard to find and catch them. Who knows, you might break Bro. Eric's record. Mac
     
  2. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,160
    State:
    NC
    As I drifted the waters of Mt. Island today I pondered some of the points you brought up.

    While Lake Norman did produce the previous state record, it is not known as a big fish producer. There are large numbers of filet size fish, but it has not become a destination for monster cats like some of the other lakes you haev mentioned. Is this because there are not many big fish or is it because the waters are so vast and there are so many places for the fish be?

    I know one thing, and that is all the big blue producing lakes have in common is the ability to humble you from one day to the next. The big blue bite seems to be a fickle thing, and what makes it work varies from lake to lake. All of the mentioned lakes have the ability to produce huge stringer on Saturday and then leave you wondering where the fish are on Sunday.

    I think the big fish are easier to find in smaller lakes like Badin. Less places to look, less places for the fish to hide. Just look at the riverine section of Badin from the trestle to the dam. You are looking at an area that is about two miles and has produced a lot of big fish on the lake. That same section on the upper reaches of Norman is 8-10 miles depending on where you measure it to, so again you have 4-5 times as much water to cover.

    More things to ponder....
     

  3. Pier Pressure

    Pier Pressure New Member

    Messages:
    82
    State:
    Mt.Pleasant,NC
    The Yadkin lakes have some subtle differences compared to the Catawba lakes that may contribute to having consistently larger catfish. One being the geography of the area and the other that it is a little more nutrient rich. The geography on the yadkin chain does offer more abundant structure and secondly maybe it's easier for all the lake inhabitants to make a living, in the more fertile waters. This might be why there are frequently bigger cats east of I-77?

    Norman is still a teenager next to Badin and Tillery in age and perhaps with time the bigger cats will become more common. Mt. Island is very unique in that it has a great river section with strong current at times, along with nice sandy ledges with steep drop offs up river and a typical reservoir section down river. Yet, with all that current it stays remarkably clear. Whereas on the Yadkin lakes it's quite common to have very muddy water at any time of the year, especially in years with some rainfall :wink:.
     
  4. mudkip

    mudkip New Member

    Messages:
    645
    State:
    SC
    The most obvious difference to me is depth. Badin is deep. Norman is deep.

    The others are typical shallow Southern reservoirs.

    Comparing Badin to Norman. I am sure Norman is less fertile than Badin. If you compare any of the other lakes to Norman they would be more fertile in comparison.

    I think the smaller reservoirs, HRock, Tillery, Mtn Island are easier to fish than the big sprawling ones. The river types in particular. I suggest if you plan to fish Norman, to learn to fish one creek first before you go roaming about the reservoir looking for fish. One major creek arm on Norman is about the size of Mountain Island Lake. Don't know a lot about Badin but because of its depth I would consider it a large lake. Less shoreline but a lot to consider beneath the waves:wink:

    All this being said, one can be humbled on any body of water on a given day.
     
  5. Bryan8552

    Bryan8552 New Member

    Messages:
    422
    State:
    nc
    Kerr Lake is also big and overwhelming. It's about 50,000 acres or so and I don't recall the length of shoreline. You could ride on plane all day long just to look at the place and never wet a hook. At normal water levels it's about 103 ft deep at the dam and there are many creek channels 50-60 feet deep. The water level since January has varied as much as 12 feet. I fished the rivers for years and began to think I was a decent catfisherman until we bought a bigger boat and started fishing Kerr. This place has truly humbled me, I am once again nothing more than a beginner. We have been fishing Kerr Lake fairly regularly for about a year now. Although we have had many enjoyable days and fairly consistent success, we have yet to land a single fish over 20 lb. from her waters. We are still trying though and have not given up hope. As a matter of fact, my oldest son and I intend to try her again tommorrow. May be our lucky day!
     
  6. Bryan8552

    Bryan8552 New Member

    Messages:
    422
    State:
    nc
    When yall say that Baden and Norman are "DEEP", how deep are we talking?
     
  7. Pier Pressure

    Pier Pressure New Member

    Messages:
    82
    State:
    Mt.Pleasant,NC
    I think Norman gets to 120' -130' in one spot and Badin gets to almost 190', with alot of 100'+ water that follows the old river channel.
     
  8. mudkip

    mudkip New Member

    Messages:
    645
    State:
    SC
    Bryan

    I felt the same as you. Cut my teeth on the Great Pee Dee but fishing a reservoir is different. Probably the best way to approach a new body of water is to look at a GOOD map with topo. GPS with mapping for open water is a great tool but pricy. A man once told me that a lake is just a river covered by more water which is true in many ways but it can pose problems until you get confident. Study the river bed on your lake map. The deep bends are still there, just hidden by water. From your knowledge of river fishing you know the outside bends are the deepest and probably had hardwood on them while the inside bends were shallow and may have been covered by willows and the like. Flats can be bait magnets and a subtle change in depth like a small creek channel can be a great place to catch cats.

    I have never been on Kerr. I believe if I was going to try for a big cat I would fish the upper sections of the lake in the early to mid spring for a big blue. Blues love current and rocky cover. Both are usually found in the upper reaches of southern reservoirs. Most hydrostations were built on natural rocky shoals near the fall line. Not many natural lakes around here maybe Lake Lure is. Blues are very nomadic and will migrate many miles in the spring to spawn as does the bait, herring shad etc. I would look for the first big bend in the northern most section of the lake for starters. Some day me and Wyliecat will have to test out this theory:big_smile:
     
  9. Mac-b

    Mac-b Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    19,241
    State:
    North Caro
    Pier Pressure is right on target when he said that Badin, Tillery and High Rock were rich in nutrients. This factor along supports the plankton and zooplankton, which the bait fish feed on and thus the rest in the food chain. You can contribute the nutrients in part to those towns and cities up stream that dump their processed waste into the Yadkin chain.

    Mudkip is also right on target about going to the top of the water source to find big blues in the spring. All the trophy blues that I have reported on the BOC were caught up river in the spring time. Also, that is a major reason we have so many juggers up river in the spring time. It is not uncommon to see 400 to 500 jugs floating around from Marker 22 to Marker 25, with a dozen or so boats chasing down the jugs. The LKN State record Ark. Blue was caught up river close to Marker 22 (?). Whats up river to attrach the cats ? Number one that is where the freshest water is. Second, several species of fish are heading up river to have their spawn, some for real and some not (stripers), thus you have eggs and fry in that area. Third, you have the spring run off bringing in food (night crawlers, insects, etc.). Also, you have the strongest flow up river due to it usually being narrow and as the river widens out you breakdown the flow. Last but not least, you have the possible discharge from towns upriver that dump their processed waste into the river, this is not a bad thing if properly managed.

    Thanks to all of you guys that have contributed to this thread. Mac
     
  10. price

    price New Member

    Messages:
    175
    State:
    North Carolina
    I looked back at Tomahawk and Catfishus on Tillery and Badin. Spring thru. today most, if not all, their large blues and flatheads came fishing at night. Most also came during the weekdays. I think in all the above mentioned lakes that from sping thru. fall the true trophy fish will be taken at night. Add in that this year with the low water levels dams have almost stopped running. This has made the fish even more nocturnal (no daytime current to activate them). I tried this idea out this AM on Mt Island. I started drift fishing at 5:45 AM. By 7:15, as the light just started up, I had three fish, a 25, 20, and an 18. I fished until 12:00. From the time the sun came up until 12 I did not get another bite. I think there are lots of factors that also influence this (boat traffic!), but if you really want a trophy cat on these lakes April-October you better fish 3rd shift. Then in Winter you can switch back to 1st shift. I think that if you fish during the day during these months you will tend to catch channel cats and smaller blues (3-5) LBS.
     
  11. CMJ

    CMJ Guest

    I agree with you price, there has been some good fish caught at night lately,especially flatheads, but you can get some decent blues during the day in the summer months if you have the patience and can stand the heat. From daylight to noon is a good time for me.
     
  12. mudkip

    mudkip New Member

    Messages:
    645
    State:
    SC
    I have caught over 200 pounds of blues in October in the afternoon on Mountain Island drifting the mid channel. My friend Chris Nichols got a call during this event which featured blue bird skies and bright sunshine. There was a tournament 3 days later and we managed one fish a 17 pound blue--same lake same drifts. I think they bite when they want too. Maybe some guys want to fish at night, in the heat of the day, in total darkness or in a driving NE wind in February. If you have confidence in a pattern and fish it you are probably gonna be successful.
     
  13. Rookie12

    Rookie12 New Member

    Messages:
    1,324
    State:
    Kannapolis, NC
    I'll tell you what I've learned over the past few years. Look at the past history of catches, then look at the conditions you've got currently and see what will make the fish change. I believe that cats have distinct seasonal patterns that they follow for one reason or another, but are highly influenced by things like barometric pressure, moon phase, wind, bait, current, etc. You have to put all of this together and come up with a game plan before you even hook the boat up. If you go to a lake blind, you will most likely flounder around all day and never reach a pattern. You have to pick these fish apart the same way bass fisherman do when they are bass fishing. Look at where the bait is. Look at frontal conditions, if a front is approaching, then fish will be feeding and near bait. Another thing is to know what fish to fish for and what not too. EVery time I mark big fish really close to each other and right on the bottom in hole or on a ledge, I almost never catch 'em even if I sit there all day. Fish balled up and on the bottom aren't feeding. Fish that are more spread out, a few feet off the bottom and on the shallow side of a ledge, hole, or whatever are feeding. You will catch these fish if you give them what's on thier menu. Use a variety of baits, don't be scared to try something new either! Also have a variety of tactics. If you are anchoring and only picking up a few small fish, try drifting a legde and go from deep to shallow and find where the bite is, then anchor on them fish and wear 'em out. if you are getting short strikes or are marking fish and not catching them when drifting, then they aren't active enough to chase your baits. I've never caught big fish in the winter time drifitng, but I can anchor on the same spots, wait 'em out and put 40+ lb. fish in the boat. I've done it every year now that I've been catfishing. Do your homework and get on the water. All the lakes mentioned have big fish in them, but without doing some research, you're going in blind. Also, don't look at state record size fish to look for big fish, look at good numbers of quality fish, Tillery ain't got no record out of it, but Tillery has some hawgs in it and tons between 20 and 80 lb. have been caught, same with Mt. Island. Badin has the record and tons of nice fish come from there every year. Norman has big fish and I've caught 'em, but I have yet to pattern big cats on Norman. I do think you could figure out the big blue bite better in the winter there though. just my 2 cents guys, good luck!
     
  14. Bryan8552

    Bryan8552 New Member

    Messages:
    422
    State:
    nc
    Last winter, we had very little trouble locating and catching decent fish at Kerr Lake. We were catching blues from 12-18 lbs fairly consistently. This summer has been a different story. We have had some good days fishing but no sizable fish. I don't know that we've caught anything this summer in excess of 10 lb or so. I realize that a good part of the problem is our inability to go up into the rivers (Kerr is fed by two of them, the Roanoke and the Dan). If the water level is an inch under 300' (normal) this lake boat we bought will not make it in either of them. I sold my short shaft, tiller handle river machine thinking we needed a large boat for the lakes. Little did I realize that we were just headed out to fish another river. LMAO!

    Bait was hard to come by today, but there were millions of shad in Island Creek. Most were so small that they just escaped through the mesh of our nets. We finally managed to find a school of 5-8 inchers and fished the last hour and a half of daylight. After sunset the entire creek was teeming with thousands of schools of shad. Unbelievable! My twelve year old son (Chris) had a ball. About every five minutes he'd slap the seat of the boat just to watch a million shad literally jump out of the lake simultaneously. We had 6-8 hits and managed to land two channels 2-3 lbs. Strips of fileted crappie outdid the shad and kahle hooks outdid the circles (of course they seem to get hung up more often on the drift rigs). We left right at the edge of dark against "my" better judgement. With the number of shad in that creek it seems that there would have to be some big fish coming to dinner sometime. Big fish activity at the surface was almost nonexistent but we did mark quite a few decent fish scattered about while drifting 15-35 foot depths. Water temp 78.5 and the wind was relatively calm.

    Good luck to everybody this week and be careful in these low water conditions, we lost about half of our skeg today!
     
  15. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,160
    State:
    NC
    "...I started drift fishing at 5:45 AM. By 7:15, as the light just started up, I had three fish, a 25, 20, and an 18. I fished until 12:00. From the time the sun came up until 12 I did not get another bite..."

    Great theory Price. BTW, nice seeing you on Mt. Island last weekend! :big_smile:

    The lack of water flow in the southeast seems to have had a major affect on the overall big fish bite, not to mention the lower lack levels and lack of new water moving into the larger lakes. The fish are obviously eating, but it seems our patterns of fishing are not working to put the bait in their mouths. Its an odd year for sure.

    Most of my big fish have come at night this year, with the only caveat to that theory being most of them came in the spring before the lack of rain took effect. I would agree that since the rains left us the daytime bite has not been as good as the log book from previous years indicates.

    How does all this help us in preparation for the tournamen this weekend? It doesn't. We are forced, like many, to find fish when we can fish. For those of us in the tournament the time we can fish is during the tournament hours, and for others it is the time they have off from work and away from the house. We will have to adapt our way to the the preference of the fish during those narrow hours and hope that we catch a little bit of luck in addition to some fish. :wink:
     
  16. mudkip

    mudkip New Member

    Messages:
    645
    State:
    SC
    I hope for a good turnout this weekend. There are not that many opportunities to fish a tournament for 20 bucks. This is an opportunity to meet fellow fishermen in a low stress tournament envioroment. Good fellowship and information on tactics is available-just ask. We stress taking care of the resource and having a great time. CCC meeting tonight.:wink:
     
  17. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,160
    State:
    NC
    You are right Rodger!! Mt. Island will be a fun tournament!

    BTW, you gave away KEY SECRETS at the meeting tonight!! Those in attendance that were listening may not have realized what you told them!! Thanks for your participation!! :big_smile: