“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” is a country music song made popular by Willie Nelson. While cowboys have their place in the minds of many, most readers of this column know that my heroes are fishermen – fictional and real. Those who have inspired others, particularly youngsters, to fish and enjoy the outdoors are my all-time heroes.
“Santiago,” the fictional Cuban fisherman who tangled with a giant marlin in Hemingway's “Old Man and the Sea,” comes to mind. Then there is Ahab, the captain of a whaling ship that roamed the seven seas in search of Moby Dick. Their adventures led many anglers down the fishing path.
Quint was the captain devoured by a great white shark in the movie “Jaws.” He prided himself in capturing very large fish, but at the end of story, he didn't have a boat big enough to finish the job. Regardless of his demise, Quint stimulated many an angler to give big game fishing a try.
The faces of real-life fishermen fill television screens each weekend. The shows not only entertain but teach techniques that help even the savviest angler improve his catch rate. I, like many, have learned with age that fishing is much more than catching fish. It is also the adventure, the thrill of the chase and the dream of going to far-off places where real trophy fish hide.
That's why Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston and other TV hosts have taken viewers to new fishing holes for decades. Even before their time, a fisherman named “Gadabout Gaddis” took anglers to exotic fishing places in a single-engine Piper Cherokee. The show was called “The Flying Fisherman.” In each episode, “Gadabout Gaddis” caught big lunkers in far-off places.
My earliest recollections of fishing are with my father in a rowboat. The boat was small, but the fish were always big in my mind's eye. I recall him watching and smiling when I caught my first fish. This was the beginning of a recreational pastime for me that has lasted a lifetime and is also the reason that my real heroes will always be those who introduce children to the sport.
The next time you hear that Willie Nelson song, take a kid fishing.
Tips from Capt Gus
When unhooking a fish, hold it upside down. Belly up, it becomes almost lifeless and makes un-hooking much easier.
Saltwater Charter Boat Captain Shannon Miller will be in the fishing tackle department from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 18 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36 in Mooresville. Capt. Miller will answer questions and discuss offshore fishing techniques he uses on Carolina and Virginia coastal waters. Details: 704-658-0822.
A two-hour course, “Introduction to Bass Fishing on Lake Norman,” will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at Mitchell College, 219 N. Academy St. in Mooresville. I will discuss tackle, tactics and techniques I use to catch largemouth and spotted bass on Lake Norman. To preregister and pay the $25 fee: 704-663-1923.
A free fishing seminar, “How to Read and Interpret a Fish Finder to Catch Perch, Stripers and Bass,” conducted by Jake Bussolini, will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36 in Mooresville. Details: 704-658-0822. Jake is the author of two books, “Jake's Take on the Lake” and “Fighting Fish.” Both books focus on the specifics of fishing Lake Norman.
Hot Spot of the Week
At daylight, surface-feeding stripers and spotted bass are being taken in Reed and Mountain Creeks. Largemouths are plentiful around docks and riprap. White perch are schooling off points and bottom contour drops to 40 feet. Striper, bass and cat fishing has been very good the past week.
The lake level is down about 2.5 feet from full pond, and the water's surface temperature is in the 70s.