Lake Norman & Mooresville

Catch a laugh with these fish tales

It’s not always “the one that got away” that makes the best fish tale.

We were headed across Reed Creek one fall morning when we came upon a school of hybrid striped bass. As the boat slowed, one of the anglers jumped on the forward platform to make a cast.

I really don’t know what happened, and neither did he, but instead of tossing the lure toward the fish, he tossed the rod and reel into the fray of feeding fish. As we watched it sink to the bottom of Lake Norman, his only comment was, “I won’t be bothered with that rod and reel anymore.” Everyone got a laugh out of the incident, and he bought me a new outfit.

Another began as I was fishing with a family group one hot summer morning, just as the sun began to rise. The big ball of fire had barely cleared the horizon when one of the youngsters saw it and asked, “Is that Saturn, the red planet?”

Some time ago, a man hooked and played a 3-foot garfish to the boat. I didn’t want to land it for fear of getting its needle-sharp teeth caught in the webbing of the net. As I was asking what he wanted to do with it, he reached into the water with both hands and grabbed it by the snout and tail. He quickly pulled it from the water, held it in front of him and said, “I want my picture taken.” His partner snapped a couple of shots, and the garfish was released unharmed. I’m not sure if the man was that good at handling fish – or that lucky for not losing a couple of fingers.

A teenage Jet Skier pulled up to a local marina and asked the gas dock girl if he could get $2 worth of gas. She looked at him and said, “At four dollars a gallon, you won’t get out of the harbor.” The Jet Skier replied, “That’s all the money I have. I’ll go as far as it will take me.” With that, she handed him the gas nozzle and turned away to help another boat. He began to pump the gas into a hole where a cup holder used to be, and his $2 worth of gas ended up in the bilge. He smiled and waved as he left the dock. Thank goodness there wasn’t a spark to ignite the gas.

The wife of one of the three men fishing on this particular day had never been fishing. She tried cast after cast to get her lure far enough away from the boat to catch a bass. Each time she tried, someone made a negative comment about her casting ability. I worked with her for most of the morning, but she continued to have problems. When it was almost time to leave, everyone but the lady had caught fish. She finally made a cast of about 30 feet, her only decent cast of the day. When the lure hit the water, she shouted, “I’ve hooked two bass!” Everyone watched as she reeled in a double header. The lady never cracked a smile, but I suspect that she was laughing big on the inside.

Another woman on a trip for white perch out-fished her husband and sons to the point of embarrassment. They changed positions, sides of the boat and even exchanged fishing rods with her. She still caught more than all the rest combined. When asked if she always caught more fish than the rest of the family, she said, “Only when I sprinkle fish powder on my shoulders.” I didn’t know about fish powder, so I asked if she brought some with her. She reached into her bag and pulled out a plastic bottle with the words “Fish Powder” taped over the label. “I did this as a joke,” she said, “but now I think it really works.”

Free safe-boating class

“How to Navigate Lake Norman, Day or Night” will be held at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd., Cornelius, at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12. Becky Johnson and I will cover “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “10 Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley at 704-892-7575.

Tips from Capt. Gus

Boat batteries require extra attention during hot weather. Be sure the cable connections are tight, and the battery is filled with fluids and fully charged before leaving the dock. Jumper cables and a cellphone are nice to have if the battery dies.

Hot spots of the week

The bridges that cross Lake Norman’s river and creek channels are good paces to suspend lights over the side of the boat when night fishing for crappie, perch, bass and catfish. Hybrid striped bass and a few stripers are being taken by anglers trolling Alabama rigs at depths to 50 feet below the surface.

Lake conditions

The lake level is down about 4.0 feet from full pond and the water surface temperature is in the mid-80s and low 90s on Lake Norman.

Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman: