What Happened to All the Trophy Blue Catfish on Lake Norman?

Discussion in 'NORTH CAROLINA LAKES / RESERVOIRS' started by Mac-b, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. Mac-b

    Mac-b Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    North Caro
    It appears that Lake Norman did not fare too well in 2008 in the big blue department. I can think of maybe 12 decent trophy blues caught all year, but I can not verify all the catches by photo's or by witnesses, just hear say, except for maybe four or five. This was not the case in 2007, when it was a weekly occurrence that someone would catch a 30, 40 or 50 pound blue and have proof of their catch. But the bright spot of the fishing season was the appearance of a lot of flatheads in the high 20's, 30's and 40 pound class, with a couple of 55 to 60 plus. All of these could be verified by photo's and by eyewitnesses.

    One lake below LKN, Mtn. Island produced some trophy blues and flatheads and most of these were verified by photo's. Mtn. Island is about 1/7 the size of LKN.

    Then there is Lake Wylie, it produced a 64 pound blue, plus some in the 30's and 50's, all of which could be verified. Also, LW produced it's fair share of large flatheads. Now keep in mind that LW use to be known as a channel catfish lake.

    Badin and Tillery continued to produce trophy blues and flatheads as it has done in the past.

    With all the other lakes doing so well, why did LKN lag behind in the big blue catch, that is the million dollar question. Have they all been caught out or is LKN so large, that the fisherperson just did not find them. Or did the people fishing for large blues cut back due to the price of fuel? In years passed I have seen large blues floating on the top of the water all swollen, but not this year, so I don't really believe we have had a big cat fish kill, so I can rule that out. Have we reached a point whereby those using traps with large openings have depleted the supply of large blues? In the recent past, a large number of large blues have been transferred to paylakes, but I have not heard any rumors of this occurring this year or were there not any there for them to harvest.

    The supply of eater size cats on LKN appears to be ample on LKN and catches of 20 to 30 blues in a five or six hour outing occurred quite often. Also, you could expect to catch a decent flathead almost everytime you went out.

    I have had my say about this situations, now let's hear from the others that fish LKN for large blues. Tell us what you have seen and what you think is going on as it relates to the trophy blue. Thanks
  2. catinaldatime

    catinaldatime New Member

    Girard, IL
    It is wild.We have a lake up here that it wasnt no big deal at at to go there and find a 40-60 pound blue or flat,that was like 6 years ago,now u go there and sometimes its ruff to get a 30!lots of 20 pounders in there though,but its like now u have to work for the big ones,hard!

  3. brother hilljack

    brother hilljack New Member

    Shelbyville, TN
    Mac, perhaps you caught them all already. Actuall, I think it has just been a bad year for big cats. NOt too many reports this year.
  4. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Andrews, SC
    So, what does that suggest to you guys? There's only so much food in the bucket; you can feed it all to the little guys, or you can get rid of a bunch of the little ones, and leave more for the big boys. Haven't fished Lake Norman, but I know that's the case here on Santee Cooper, to some degree. The biologists say to keep all the smaller ones you can eat; it won't hurt the population overall, and, along with the 36" rule, will likely help with quality catches. Just my penny's worth. :smile2:
  5. pop pop

    pop pop New Member

    Lake Green
    Mac, It probably just looks that way. I've never fished LKN but hope to with you next year. The big'uns will survive I believe and are still there. Not sure of LKN's bait fish supply, but recent blues from Monticello showed a numbers of cats in the 10 to 15 lb range had small cats in there bellys. Verified by Bruce and I. This would lead to a conclusion that bigger blues will feed on any available food source including there own. Just my thoughts.
    Pop Pop
  6. moe

    moe New Member

    Back in the 90's you could see hundres of small catfish on the surface at Long Island, not anymore. The jug fishermen,trotliner,keep everything you catch,and basket people, have pretty much thinned them down to near nothing. Back then you could catch a few fish a trip now it may take several trips. I tried to post a pic. of one I caught last year but I think it posted in the title instead of here. That is one that is still in the Long Island area unless it moved or some jug fisherman,trotliner,basket dude,keepeverthing you catch person hasn't eaten him. You guys don't have to feed the whole neighborhood, keep a few and releases the rest,especially the big ones. This is my opinion and everyone has one, but if you go by mine, fishing will be better for everyone. Thanks

    Attached Files:


    FATFLATTIE New Member

    ILM, NC
    That is one heck of a fish esp for Norman!
  8. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Good topic to think on LakeNormanBlues.

    I think the drought and sustained lower lake levels of the past couple of years changed the patterns of the fish, and the fishermen did not adapt.

    On Lake Wylie we had a hard time this summer catching good tournament fish in our nightime tournaments. What worked in past years no longer produced fish. We caught 7-9 pound channel cats in the fall and spring, but they were non-existent at night in what many consider "prime-time" for catching catfish. A winning three fish limit in our tournaments in past years was 18-21 pounds, but this year 12-15 pounds would win. The bottom line is that the fish were not behaving the way they had for years.

    LakeNormanBlues I am sure that you guys saw more pressure in the years after the previous state record came from the lake. That could have led to a slight reduction in the number of big fish, but I seriously doubt there was that much of an impact. If you will remember from the Carolina Catfish Club meeting the the NCWRC biologists, the number of people pursuing catfish is minimal when compared to stripers.

    I firmly believe that the juggers have a minimal impact on the population. I also believe that serious catmen that consistently catch big cats release most of them. Lake Norman is HUGE, and I can not see its population or growth rate being affected by the angler.

    Take a look at the NCCATS stringers that were brought in this year and in past years. Those guys in that series are the best of the best, and if the fish are there they will find them. If those weights are consistent from the past years I would not be too concerned. The bad news is that the NCCATS website no longer exists so it will be hard to look at that data.

    The bottom line LakeNormanBlues, I would give it another season to see how things compare.
  9. rangercatman

    rangercatman Member

    Cameron, NC
    Great questions......I personaly think its the wx..everywhere. It looks and feels like North Kakalacki is in for a good cold winter. I cant blame any trotliners or non-r/r fishing folks due to the fact I have not observed any of them catching/ or taking any of these "missing" trophies. I would personally like to see an experiment amoungst our NC partners......(On a typical outing how many fish do catch & what do you keep)?

    I have personally heard (fishing the Capefear) keep ALL the flatheds (No matter how big or little) and release all blues and channels over 10lbs.....this is from a DNR Officer

    I havent kept a fish in 2 yrs.....I buy my catfish fillets from wally world....not cause Im snoby or to good to keep what I catch...but.... because I fish to enjoy fishing & my wife plays 20 questions about how the fish was cleaned.

    Its what works for me.

    I hope you all add in and we can collectively crunch numbers......I hope the weather gets the evil finger from the great state of NC