Charlotte, NC Fishing: The Largest City in North Carolina

Charlotte, NC is the largest city in North Carolina. Know the best fishing spots and which species you can catch here.

Charlotte, NC Fishing: The Largest City in North Carolina
Charlotte, NC Fishing: The Largest City in North Carolina
Team Guidesly

March 7, 2022, 6 min read

Updated on April 19, 2022

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As a business and financial hub, Charlotte sits right in the middle of Mecklenburg County. It is a busy metropolitan area where many roads intersect to access North and South Carolina. The city is popularly known for many things: Queen City, Hornet’s Nest, City of Churches, the largest and most populous city in North Carolina, and the county seat of Mecklenburg.

Historical architecture is still evident in Charlotte’s structures today, reflecting its long history of the 1500s.

The earliest recorded history for the city was Spanish records in 1567, noting that the Catawba Native Americans were the first inhabitants of the area. It was incorporated in 1768 under the name “Town of Charlotte.” The name was in honor of the German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen of Great Britain and Ireland, hence Queen City's nickname. Since then, the city continued to grow until it surpassed Wilmington as the largest city of North Carolina.

The city has parks with lakes and ponds that offer productive year-round fishing. And with the Catawba River and Lake Wylie to the west and Lake Norman to the north, Charlotte is truly an exciting fishing destination for freshwater enthusiasts!

Charlotte Fishing

man on a boat sailing on the body of water

West of Charlotte, the Catawba River is a great place to go sport fishing. Originating in Western North Carolina, the river flows into South Carolina, becoming known as the Wateree River. Blue catfish, largemouth bass, channel catfish, white bass, common carp, flathead catfish, black crappie, and striped bass are among the game species in the river. Drift fishing is the most common form of fishing in the Catawba River and other water sports like kayaking, paddling, and canoeing are also popular.

Lake Norman, north of Charlotte, is the largest man-made lake in North Carolina. It is fed by the Catawba River and drains south into the Mountain Island Lake. Sometimes, people refer to it as the inland sea of North Carolina. The primary game species found in Lake Norman include striped bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. Striped bass was introduced into the lake for sport fishing. Annual fishing tournaments are held in the lake, hosted by Fishing League Worldwide. The Major Fishing League holds tournaments on the lake; these draw anglers from different places. Lake Norman has two bank fishing areas and eight boat launching access for the public. Other fish species in Lake Norman are black bullhead, blue catfish, black crappie, flathead catfish, sauger, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, yellow perch, white bass, and longnose gar, with catfish as the largest fish family. Blue catfish were introduced in the lake to control shad populations.

McDowell Nature Preserve is a great spot to fly fishing on the 325 miles shoreline of Lake Wylie, where bass species, catfish species, and other panfish are abundant. The lake is 13,400 acres, where drift fishing is very prominent. With Copperhead Island, the park has seven fishing piers and boat launching access for those who prefer to go further out. Lake Wylie’s best game fish to look out for are largemouth bass, black crappie, blue catfish, channel catfish, hybrid striped bass, smallmouth bass, and white bass. Lake Wylie’s maximum depth is 94 feet, with an average depth of 20 feet. Anglers may want to use this to their advantage to catch fish any time of the year since there is a suitable water temperature for all seasons due to the depth variation.

Parks all over Charlotte are also supportive of fishing. Near uptown Charlotte is Freedom Park, where largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill bank fishing are quite productive. Another park is the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, a historical spot with bank access to Mountain Island Lake. Baits are available for purchase here. In McAlpine Creek Park, anglers may enjoy a relaxed fly fishing day in the small pier of the 3-acre lake stocked with catfish and bass. The lake is accessible on all sides and has benches along the banks for an energy-booster rest. 

Last but not least, Colonel Francis Beatty Park is considered one of Charlotte’s hottest fishing spots. The park’s area is 265-acre, with a 20-acre pond with a maximum depth of 18 feet. The pond is brimming with stocked largemouth bass and bluegill. Most of these parks have rod and reel rentals for beginners and those who want to try fishing for a day.


Top 10 Fish Species in Charlotte, NC

The top 10 fish species in Charlotte, NC, are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, striped bass, black crappie, blue catfish, black bullhead, and spotted bass.

Seasonal Fishing

Freshwater fishing opportunities in Catawba River, Lake Norman, and parks in Charlotte are productive year-round. However, fall fishing may pose a more complex challenge due to the rapid cooling of water caused by rainfall and cold fronts. However, fall fishing is an excellent alternative to avoid crowds during summer. Summer fishing is more festive, and channel catfish is one of the common games for anglers. Striped bass tends to be in deeper waters during summer but stay on shallow shorelines during spring. In Lake Wylie, there are outstanding black crappie fishing opportunities in spring.

Charlotte’s climate is mostly humid and muggy. With ice fishing, it is typically hit or miss. Getting 4 inches of thick ice in the city’s ponds does not last long. January to February may be the perfect months for ice fishing if the weather gets freezing for water to freeze up and last a little longer. Anglers must be careful and constantly check the city office for ice fishing regulations.

Anglers need to note that northern snakehead may be found around this area in North Carolina. These species are considered invasive, unpleasantly changing the water conditions. Note that they must not be put back in the water. Instead, keeping them in ice and turning them over to the city government is encouraged. Be careful not to confuse them with northern bowfin.

Bring Your Family to the Queen City of Mecklenburg County!

1. Book a Fishing Guide

Don’t miss Charlotte when coming to North Carolina for fishing. Bring your kids and get a local guide and save yourself from the inconvenience of getting to know a new place and its policies. A guide will help you polish your fishing trip and enjoy the whole adventure! Book a local guide now.

2. Try Fury 325 at Carowinds

Come to Carowinds, a family-friendly 407-acre amusement park found in the southwest of Charlotte. With four years of planning, businessman Earl Patterson Hall put up a team to make this beautiful park a dream come true! Carowinds is home to the fourth-tallest roller coaster in the world—Fury 325! It is a steel roller coaster towering a magnificent 325 feet height; this is a fantastic place to bring the whole family and enjoy a day together.

3. Have Fun Paddling in the Rapids

Whitewater Center is a place for beginners and even experienced enthusiasts to enjoy white water rapids! The man-made rapids are a great alternative when practicing your rafting skills so you can be equipped once you head out to the real deal. Guides and equipment rentals are available to help and teach you along the way, so you don’t have to worry. The center also offers flatwater sports like canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. If you want to get out of the water and try other activities, wall climbing, rope courses, and ziplines are also available in the center. Trails for biking, hiking, and running are also ready for outdoor enthusiasts.

Fish in Charlotte and beyond.