Moon over Norman

On March 19, 2011, the full moon was closer to the earth than it had been in 16 years. This celestial event is called a "Supermoon."

Some people believe the Supermoon is partly responsible for recent catastrophic events, such as the earthquake and tsunamis that hit Japan. I don't know about that, but the moon surely influences when bass spawn.

I spoke with Lee King of Laurens, S.C., the day before the Supermoon. He said there were already a few bass on the beds at Lake Norman, N.C.

King lives about 45 minutes from Norman, which is the site of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open, March 26-28. He's fished a dozen or so tournaments at Norman and believes things are shaping up for a slugfest.

A warming trend and a hard rain 10 days prior to the tournament may combine to make for a super tournament in the wake of the Supermoon. The rain swelled the lake to full pool and put a stain in the clear water.

Even though there is some early spawning going on, King believes most of the bass will be on a prespawn feeding binge during the tournament.

"Many bass will be caught from boat docks and from brushpiles in 6 to 10 feet of water," King says. "Secondary points in creeks should also be good."

Crankbaits and jigs will score big at Norman, King believes.

"A jig wins a lot at Norman," he says. "You can skip it under docks where you can't cast a crankbait."

Since I'm fishing Norman as a nonboater, I'm going to heed King's advice. I'll probably have two rods rigged with jigs and one with a crankbait. I also intend to give jerkbaits, wacky-rigged baits and shaky head worms a workout.

Many docks at Norman have a tall stationary walkway that leads to a floating platform, points out King. If the water continues to warm, there will be bass in the shallows beneath the walkway.

The platforms float over deeper water and hold bass more consistently. However, cold weather could push the bass to brush piles out from the docks in even deeper water. This would make the shaky head worm a big player, King opines.

Spotted bass are more abundant than largemouths at Norman, but King doesn't believe the tournament can be won with spotted bass alone.

"You'll need at least one largemouth kicker in your limit every day to win," King says.

Largemouths and spotted bass are caught from the same places, but some areas of the lake have more largemouths than others. King believes it will take at least 14 pounds a day to nab first place and a Classic berth.

Retired Bassmaster pro Guy Eaker of Cherryville, North Carolina, agrees. Eaker has fished Norman since it was impounded in the early 1960s.

"I watched them build that lake," Eaker says. "It's where I got my start tournament fishing."

Norman was once one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country, Eaker claims. A fish kill in the '80s put a big hurt on Norman's bass.

"Spotted bass got into the lake about 10 years ago and that really helped it come back," Eaker says. "Now you catch five spots for every two largemouths."

Another plus for Norman is the blueback herring. This baitfish species took hold at Norman seven or eight years ago and has provided much-needed forage, Eaker claims.

"The blueback herring really helped," Eaker says. "There are some quality spots in Norman now — 3-pounders."

Then again, Eaker believes largemouth bass will be the difference maker. His favorite area for largemouths at Norman is Mountain Creek, which has fertile water and bigger bass.

Eaker expects Mountain Creek to be crowded during the Open event, along with the rest the lake.

"There are three other tournaments going on that weekend, and one of them is a big one," Eaker says. "That'll make things tougher, but I still expect to see lots of limits weighed in."

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