Guide Chris Nichols is quick to mention the great fishing for big blue catfish. He likes to anchor up on summer nights on main-lake points, fan-casting cut baits around his boat into various water depths.
Also, McDowell Creek has a "fantastic spawning bluegill populations in the warmer months," according to guide Shane Lehew. The big bream bite is a great opportunity for fly-fishermen to cast small poppers and buggers at panfish.
Duck Cove is a large, expansive flat midway between Cowan's Ford Dam and the huge sandbar that divides the upper and lower sections of the lake. It has a narrow entrance and is very popular for canoeing and kayaking. It leads to a massive flat teaming with carp, bluegills, small catfish and gar, all offering sight-fishing targets. Fishermen carrying spinning rods can cast small skimmer or marabou jigs.
Carp can also be targeted with fly-fishing gear around the big sandbar at first light, before boat traffic picks up and grills arrive and are fired up.
The upper portion of the lake also has excellent crappie water. Try small jigs or flies, letting them fall slowly into tangled branches of laydowns along the main channel.
Editor's Note: This story appears as part of a feature in North Carolina Sportsman's August issue now on newsstands. To ensure you don't miss any information-packed issues of the magazine, click here to have each issue delivered right to your mail box.