Fishing with Gus

There was a time when the only worms used to catch bass were dug from the ground.

Earthworms caught a lot of fish and still do. As time passed, live worms were raised commercially, packaged and sold in bait shops and convenience stores, and people stopped digging for them.

When someone thought a manufactured look-alike would catch more fish than Mother Nature’s version, the rubber worm was invented. The inventor was right, to a point. Today, plastic worms are the bait of choice for most bass fishermen. What used to be a simple process of digging, hooking and fishing with live worms has evolved into a complicated science.

Today’s soft plastic worms come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, scents and weights. Add to that the dozens of methods used to fish with them, and it’s no wonder the novice angler becomes confused with the thousands of packages of night crawler imitations available.

Some are weighted so they sink without using a weight. Others float so they can be fished from the surface to the bottom. The same design might be available in a variety of colors or scents and can be fished weedless or with the hook showing.

Ask a salesperson which worm is best. Unless that person is a fisherman, you will get a deer-in-the-headlight stare but not an answer to your question.

So, how do you start fishing with worms?

Begin by talking to, or better yet, bass fishing with someone who uses plastic worms. Ask lots of questions. Notice how a worm is rigged and watch as it settles in the water. Finally, pay close attention to the retrieve.

If you can’t find someone to help, start with a six-inch watermelon colored worm, rigged Texas style. The rigging is simple. Slide a 3/16-ounce bullet weight on the line and tie a 3/0 weedless hook to the terminal end. Run the hook through the head and out the body of the worm, being certain the worm hangs straight before clipping the weed guard. Cast it to a desired spot and slowly bump it along the bottom as you retrieve the line. When a bass taps, drop the rod tip slightly, reel in any slack line and set the hook.

The next thing you should see is a bass on the surface trying to shake your worm.

Tips from Gus

Bass feeding on the surface occurs when you least expect it. Always have a lure rigged that can be cast into the fray. Look for lures that pop, buzz or run just below the surface (jerk and crank baits).

Upcoming events

Jake Bussolini and I will present a free fishing seminar, “Learn about Lake Norman’s New Fish Attractors and Manmade Reefs,” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Gander Mountain, 236 Norman Station Blvd. Details: 704-658-0822.

Hot spots of the week

Fishing is great for bass, perch and crappie.

In case you don’t have a spot in mind, try the north or south hot hole for bass and perch or brush piles in water to 20 feet for crappie.

Aside from the hot holes, spotted bass are active on rip-rap points, around brush and under docks that have multiple pilings and wooden cross-members.

The lake level on Lake Norman is 4.7 feet below full pond. The water surface temperature is in the mid- to high 70s.

Capt. Gus Gustafson, of Lake Norman Ventures, is a full-time professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Details: 704-617-6812 or