Fishermen are obsessed with keeping secrets, especially when it comes to protecting the whereabouts of their fishing holes, the types of baits they use, and the techniques they employ. To protect these secrets, they speak in riddles rather than give straight answers.As an example, when asked where the fish are biting, a typical response might be, “On the other side of the lake.” Even when pressed for additional information, the answers are usually vague. While there are those who think they’ll find the secret formula to catching fish if they ask enough questions, real fishing pros know that chasing rainbows is a waste of time. That’s why they concentrate on developing basic fishing skills and continue doing what has worked for them in the past. Regardless, there are those who believe that certain fishing lures hold the secret to their fishing success – like the Alabama Rig, which took the bass fishing community by storm in October 2011. The then-secret multi-lure combination was credited with winning $100,000 in a major bass tournament and quickly became the Holy Grail of fishing lures. The hype was such that the sales of other fishing lures plummeted, and the A-Rig was outlawed on some tournament trails. Today, the once hard-to-find and quite expensive lure harness sells for considerably less than last year and is available at most tackle shops. Its decline in popularity begs the question, “Did the fish quit hitting it once the secret was out, or are anglers waiting for the next phenomena of fishing lures?”There was a time when only charter boat captains knew the whereabouts of sunken ships and rock reefs that held large schools of snapper, grouper and amberjacks. Today’s GPS and sonar technology allow everyone to fish those spots. But, as you guessed, even though the secret is out, charter boat captains still catch the bulk of the fish, while the pipe dreamers only bag a few. If it’s not a secret spot or a fishing lure, it is the equipment – right? How many times have you heard, “If I had a boat like that, I could catch more fish than anyone else.” Well, the other day, a couple of fishermen were showing off their crappie limit at the ramp in a 14-foot john boat equipped with a vintage flasher-type fish finder, and the only visible fishing tackle onboard were cane poles rigged with small jigs. So, is there really a deep dark secret to catching fish? Probably not. Just like other sports, it takes practice and hands-on experience. With fishing though, the practice is a lot of fun. Tip from Capt. Gus As lake-water temperatures cool, fish are less likely to hit a fast-moving lure. For that reason, it’s a good winter technique to cast to the same location several times and to slow the retrieve. Hot Spots of the WeekFishing for spotted bass, perch and crappie is excellent, as it has been since the Thanksgiving holiday. Swim baits, shaky heads bumped on the bottom and crank baits fished near points, humps and dock pilings are the lures of choice for those who target bass. White perch are hitting worm pieces, small minnows and shiny spoons. Anglers are finding large schools of perch in narrow coves and near turns in creek channels in water to 50 feet. Crappie fishing is the best it has been in years. Good places for larger crappie are Mountain, Little and Hagers Creeks. The water level on Lake Norman is about 5.0 feet below full pond and is 4.2 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake. The surface water temperature is in the 50 in water not affected by power generation.