Fishing with Gus

Much has been written lately about the drought and low-water conditions on area lakes. Below are some do’s and don’ts to help make your next fall boating experience safer.

• Do run the middle of the channel, not the edge. Don’t take high water short cuts. Stay in marked channels.

• Do stay between the red and green markers. Don’t pass between red and white or green and white markers.

• Do get out of your vehicle and visually check the boat ramp before backing the trailer into the water. Don’t allow the trailer wheels to drop off the end of the ramp.

• Do leave the dock or ramp with the out drive (motor) tilted up until you reach deep water. Don’t approach a dock at any speed greater than you are willing to hit it.

• Do have a current lake map aboard your vessel. Don’t run aground before referring to the map!

• Do operate your vessel only in familiar waters until lake levels return to normal. Don’t venture far from port after dark unless you are certain that you know the return course.

• Do watch for dark spots, brown water, unusual wave patterns or objects protruding from the surface of the water. Don’t assume the water is deep enough to pass unless you are in a marked channel. Even then, when in doubt, slow to no-wake speed and proceed with caution

• Do run with the depth finder and/or navigation systems on. Don’t assume that the water is deep enough, just because you traveled the same area last fall.

• Do have a list of phone numbers to call in case your vessel runs aground or breaks down. Don’t assume that all groundings occur at night. A careless boater can hit bottom at any time.

• Do have a spare prop and the tools on board to make the switch in case the original is damaged. Don’t forget to have a long towline on board.

• Do attend a safe boating class. Learn to interpret the navigation aids and the rules of the road.  Don’t forget to enroll the entire family.  Each family member will operate the vessel at one time or another.

Upcoming events

• I’ll lead a free safe boating class, “How to Navigate Norman when the Lake is Low,” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 9 at North Point Watersports, 112 Doolie Road, Mooresville, NC 28117. Topics for discussion will include understanding Lake Norman’s channel marker and buoy system and learning how to avoid the 10 most dangerous spots. Details: 704-617-6812 or

• Bill Hassig, of Fishermen’s Friend in Kannapolis, will lead a free fishing seminar, “Electric Trolling Motor Maintenance,” at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Gander Mountain, 236 Norman Station Blvd. Hassig will discuss ways to maximize the performance and improve the battery life of your motor. Everyone who owns or is considering buying an electric trolling motor should plan to attend this informative session. Details: 704-658-0822.

Tips from Gus

According to Lake Norman catfish guide Mac Byrum, blue catfish can’t resist raw chicken breasts marinated in garlic sauce. The chicken is cut into strips and fished on the bottom the same way as with other fresh-cut baits.

Hot spot of the week

Your best bets for bass are top water lures fished at daylight in boat basins and around bridge pilings and rip-rap points. Anglers fishing the south hot hole are catching bass and white perch throughout the day.

White perch are also being caught in water to 30 feet on Sabiki rigs fished vertically. Channel cats are hitting stink baits, worms and chicken parts in back coves and around docks.

The lake level on Lake Norman is about 4.7 feet from full pond and down 3 feet on Mountain Island Lake. The water’s surface temperature is in the 60s.

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