Mountain Island Lake
Mountain Island Lake – Built in 1924, Mountain Island Lake encompasses 2788 surface acres with 61 miles of shoreline., It is approximately 14.7 miles long, and has a maximum depth of 58.4 ft. The northern limit of Mountain Island Lake is the Cowans Ford Dam, which represents the beginning of Lake Norman. With a retention time of 11 days, Mountain Island Lake has good water flow and oxygen quality(during normal conditions), which results in robust populations of largemouth bass, catfish, striper, crappie and bream. Mountain Island is particularly known for producing large blue catfish and plenty of “schoolie” size stripers. The primary forage species are threadfin and gizzard shad, plus pan fishes.
Lake Norman – The largest freshwater lake situated solely in NC, Lake Norman is composed of 32,510 surface acres and 520 miles of shoreline. Lake Norman began filling in 1963 upon completion of the Cowans Ford Dam. It is 34 miles long with a maximum depth of 130 ft. The northern limit for Lake Norman is the Lookout Shoals dam which forms Lookout Shoals Lake. Due to it’s size, Lake Norman has a high retention time. Although water flow is significant during normal conditions, it still takes months for water to travel through the lake. However, Lake Norman supports large populations of forage and game fish species. The primary forage is threadfin shad, blue back herring, gizzard shad and pan fishes. Game fishes include striper, largemouth bass, spotted bass, blue catfish, flathead catfish, channel catfish, crappie, white perch, bream and other pan fish. Lake Norman is known for producing quantity catches of these fishes although trophy catfish, stripers, and bass are not uncommon.
Lookout Shoals Lake
Lookout Shoals Lake – Formed in 1915, Lookout Shoals has 37 miles of shoreline and 1,305 surface acres. A relatively shallow lake with many rocky areas, Lookout Shoals is known for growing quality bass, striper, and catfish. Due to its small size, shallow depth, and riverine footprint, Lookout Shoals Lake experiences good water flow and oxygen quality. The primary forage is threadfin and gizzard shad, plus pan fishes. The northern limit of Lookout Shoals Lake is the Oxford Dam which forms Lake Hickory. Be advised to consider water levels any time you plan to visit Lookout Shoals, both for boat access and safe navigation.
Lake Hickory – The Oxford Dam was completed in 1927, forming 4,223 acre Lake Hickory. With 105 miles of hilly shoreline, Lake Hickory is primarily a river channel type lake, with several major feeder creeks, and larger open areas on the south end close to the Oxford dam. The northern limit of Lake Hickory is the Rhodhiss Dam , which forms Lake Rhodhiss. Lake Hickory has good water flow under normal conditions, adequate oxygen quality and a plentiful forage base, resulting in large numbers of striper, largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish. Trophy stripers up to 30 pounds, and large bass are relatively common at Lake Hickory. The primary forage is large gizzard and threadfin shad, plus pan fishes.
Lake Rhodhiss – Lake Rhodhiss was built in 1925 and has 3060 surface acres. Another riverine type lake with good water flow, oxygen quality, and large forage mass, Lake Rhodhiss is known for producing trophy stripers of 30+ pounds, along with large bass, catfish, and crappies. The primary forage is large gizzard shad, along with threadfin shad and pan fishes. The northern limit of Lake Rhodhiss is the old Catawba River channel, which is too shallow to navigate except for especially shallow draft boats.