Fishing with Gus: Beware these common mistakes when fishing
Saturday, May. 03, 2014

Fishing with Gus: Beware these common mistakes when fishing

How many times have you heard, “I forgot to put the drain plug in the boat, and it almost sank at the dock?” That scenario happens frequently this time of year at lake access boat ramps, which brings to mind a few other mistakes anglers make.

Based on the way they dress, inexperienced fishermen must think it’s warmer on the water than it is on land. Instead of dressing with wind chill and surface water temperatures in mind, they dress as if the predicted high temperature of the day will occur as they board the boat. Additionally, they leave rain gear behind, even on days when there is a high likelihood of showers.

It’s funny that most people have little difficulty waking up and getting to work on time, but when it comes to fishing, the alarm clock never works. There always seems to be more traffic than expected, and there always seems to be the need to stop on the way to buy a fishing license.

There are also mistakes that cause one to lose a big fish, like the line breaking because the drag was set too tight or the knot that held the hook came loose just as the fish was being pulled aboard. Pulled aboard? That’s a mistake, as well, since all fish worth catching should be lipped or netted.

When the big one is finally in the boat, wouldn’t it be nice if a camera was handy or someone knew how to take a picture with a smart phone? Too many times, photo opportunities are missed because the camera couldn’t be found or the phone was left in the car so it wouldn’t get wet.

One of the most embarrassing and sometimes dangerous mistakes is to run out of gas while boating. Few, if any, can say with conviction that this has never happened to them. To be safe, top off the tank each time you venture out on the lake.

Tip from Capt. Gus

Dock fishermen, when table scraps fail to lure your favorite species, go back to the basics by using minnows, crickets and worms.

Hot spots of the week

Schools of spotted bass and white perch are hitting live minnows and lures fished in sloughs and coves. Larger fish are located near deep brush piles and along drop-offs in water from 10 feet to 30 feet deep.

In addition to bass and perch, some legal size (16-inch) hybrid striped bass are taking live baits, small spoons and A-rigs cast in major creek channels. Best bets are Reed, Davidson and Hicks creeks.

Cat fishing continues to improve as water temperatures rise. Channel cats are plentiful, particularly in the shallower coves, where they hit a variety of baits, including night crawlers, chicken livers, stink baits and leftover table scraps. Trophy Arkansas blue and flathead catfish are hitting chicken parts, fresh cut and live bream and white perch in deeper water.

Upcoming events

Safe-boating class: How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night is a free class at 6:30 p.m. May 14 at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd. in Cornelius. Becky Johnson and I will cover topics that include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “The 10 Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley at 704-892-7575.

Free fishing seminar: If you want to learn how to catch Lake Norman’s trophy catfish, come to Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville, 6:30 p.m. May 21. Mac Byrum, the lake’s premier catfish guide, will discuss the techniques and strategies he employs to capture trophy blues and flatheads. In addition, a free handout pinpointing all six rock reefs will be given out.

Lake levels

Water levels are about 1.8 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.1 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake. The surface water temperature is in the 60s in water not affected by power generation on Lake Norman.

Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a fishing guide on Lake Norman. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more