University City

Fishing with Capt. Gus: Reader tells how he was ‘out-fished by a tree’

A few weeks ago, readers were asked to submit their favorite fish stories. Thanks for your responses. As promised, here are a few I would like to share. The first comes from Mike, whose wife asked him to submit it.

“In my home state of West Virginia, many of the lakes were built by the Corps of Engineers for flood control. Because of the steep mountains, rainfall runoff can be swift and heavy, so it is not uncommon for these flood-control lakes to quickly rise several feet overnight and then fall just as quickly as water is held and let out of the dams.

“My wife and I vacationed at one such lake adjoining a state park one spring and decided to go cat-fishing right before a big storm was going to strike. A favorite place was down by a small dock and launch site. As fate would have it, just as I was casting out, the wind caught my line and embedded it in an overhanging tree limb. Though I tried frantically to get my bait and sinker back, the line finally broke and left the line and bait hanging high over the water. The storm was rapidly approaching, so we headed back to our cabin for the day.

“The next morning, we decided to go back down to the spot we had been fishing because the storms were long gone. When we got back down to the dock, we realized that the lake level was now several feet higher than when we fished the morning before, and the water was very muddy. Though there was a light breeze that morning, I noticed that the small tree that overhung the water was now partially under water – and kept moving when the breeze subsided.

“A sudden wave revealed that the limb that had yesterday’s bait hanging from it was bouncing up and down. We could not see the end of the line. That bait, which had been hanging yesterday above the water and was now submerged, had a fish on it.

“I tried to break the limb off while trying to stay out of the water, with no luck. Then, around the corner, a bass boat appeared and I asked them if they could help. They took their net, caught us a nice 4 or 5 pound channel cat and graciously trolled to shore and gave it to me. That was the only fish for the day. I had been out-fished by a tree.”

The second story comes from Joe, a Lake Norman area resident.

“Two guys were telling fish stories when one bragged to the other that he had caught a 40-pound channel catfish the other day. The second guy didn’t blink an eye and said, ‘That’s nothing, I caught an old oil lamp yesterday with the light still burning.’ The first replied, ‘I will take 30 pounds off my catfish, if you’ll cut the light off on your lamp.’ ”

Upcoming events

Free safe-boating class: “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held at Morning Star Marina, Kings Point, Exit 28, Cornelius, at 6:30 p.m. June 12. 704-892-7575.

Free fishing seminar: “Ten Ways to Catch Summer White Perch.” 6:30 p.m. June 19 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, in Mooresville. 704-658-0822.

Tip from Capt. Gus

Live bait minnows are difficult to keep when air temperatures exceed 80 degrees. To keep them lively, add ice and store the bait bucket away from the sunlight.

Fishing report

White perch, spotted bass and crappie have moved to deeper water and are feeding in schools. Perch are suspended in water from 20 feet to 30 feet deep and are hitting spinners, spoons, live minnows and Sabiki rigs. Spotted bass fishing is best early in the morning and after dark. Eighty-degree water temperatures have shad swimming near the surface and bass chasing them out of the water. Anglers are casting top water lures into the breaks. Best lures are buzz baits and flukes. Large crappie, some up to 18 inches in length, are being taken on crappie jigs and minnows near deep brush piles.

Lake levels

The water level on Lake Norman is approximately 1.4 feet below full pond. Mountain Island Lake is 3.3 feet below full. Surface water temperatures are in the low to mid -80, depending on location or proximity to a power plant.