University City

April 5, 2013

Fishing with Gus: Use eyes, ears to catch fish

Hungry birds, fish can lead you to where you should be angling

Fishermen depend so much on electronics to locate fish that often times they forget to use their eyes and ears to help find them.

In Alaska, anglers look for game fish in areas where bald eagles are seen diving into the water, or where grizzly bears are snatching salmon from fast-moving streams. When ocean fishing, seagulls scream and man-o-war birds hover overhead. Lake Norman is no different. Savvy anglers look for sights and listen for sounds that lead to predators that are feeding.

Birds play a big part in helping to locate fish on area lakes, particularly during colder months when low flying terns, gulls and diving loons show the way to large schools of perch, bass and stripers. Long-legged blue herons stalking the shallows or black crows hopping along the shoreline are sure signs of bait fish in the area. Even after dark, a blue heron perched on a lighted dock could alert an angler to the presence of fish. The osprey – a large bird of prey – will build its nest in areas close to where fish can be captured on the water’s surface with their sharp talons.

It’s not always birds that show the way. Often, fish themselves reveal their presence by swirling on the surface or jumping after small fish and insects. On calm days, baitfish that swim close to the surface will cause the water to shimmer. The disturbance quickly attracts bass and other hungry fish. The rustling of grass often points the way to a big bass chasing bait along a shoreline or while preparing a spawning bed. On the coast, shallow water fishermen look for the tails of bone fish and drum in the water. This is seen when they root along the bottom for food.

Sometimes fishermen can hear, but not see fish hitting the surface. Usually this is a sunfish, bass or trout taking a fly or other type of insect – a good time to use a small bait that matches the hatch.

Upcoming events

A free safe-boating class, “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night,” will be held 6:30-8 p.m. April 10 at Morning Star Marina, Kings Point, Exit 28, 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 spot, and interpreting lake maps. For information, call her at 704-892-7575.

“Things That Affect Fish Behavior,” a two-part free seminar, will begin with Jake Bussolini leading a discussion on “How to Catch Fish as Weather, Seasons and Lake Conditions Change.” During part two, I will demonstrate how to rig and fish soft plastic lures. The new seminar will begin at 6:30 p.m. April 17 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. For information, call 704-658-0822.

Hot Spot of the Week

White perch and spotted bass are being caught the deep water of Stumpy, Hagers, Mountain and Reed creeks. Largemouth bass are already bedding in shallow coves up and down the lake. Hot hole fishing has been good for those using Zara Spooks for bass and stripers feeding on the surface and with blood worms when bottom fishing.

The water level on Lake Norman is approximately 2.3 feet below full pond. Mountain Island Lake is 3.2 feet below full. Surface water temperatures range from the mid-50s to low 60s, depending on location or proximity to a power plant.

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