Fishing was simple before Lake Norman formed.

Fishermen took turns sculling the boat. One hand worked the paddle, while the other held the rod. The angler on the bow had the first cast at every fishing spot.

Trying to cast and paddle at the same time was difficult. Rather than fight the paddle all day, it was easier to beach the boat and wade the shallow points, drift or anchor in a likely spot. A cinderblock was the most popular anchor, but because of its rough surface, the anchor rope became chafed and had to be replaced frequently.

Everyone owned a cheap, handheld compass. If the compass was not level, it gave incorrect headings. Even when level, its accuracy was questionable. If it was foggy or dark, fishing from the bank was the right thing to do.

About 60 years ago, spinning reels replaced baitcasting reels in popularity. Spinners didn’t backlash and light lures could be cast for long distances. That is when the Mitchell 300 became the favorite of fishermen.

Until then, Pflueger baitcasting reels were used by both fresh and saltwater anglers. Dacron replaced monofilament line about the same time.

Fishing rods were made from a solid piece of fiberglass. They were stiff and heavy, with little, tip action. However, the rod would not break when stepped on or accidentally closed in a car door!

No one owned a VHF (ship-to-shore radio), and cell phones were yet to come. Citizen band radios (CBs) were the first means of boat-to-boat communication on area lakes.  Bass fishermen were using them in the 1970s. Conversations between fishermen in boats were interrupted on occasion by truckers traveling the nearby highways. The truck drivers wanted to know what was hitting, how big the fish were and where they were biting.

In those days, when a problem arose, no one would answer the CB. To get help, one had to hail a passing boat by waving both arms or by tying a shirt to a paddle and holding it upright.

Modern conveniences like GPS, sonar and electric trolling motors have made today’s fishing easier. Reels have smoother drags and are tangle free. Rods are lightweight and sensitive to the lightest bite. Space-age plastic tackle boxes don’t rust, and outboard motors are larger, faster, and more dependable and start with a flip of a switch.

Times have changed, and fishing equipment has improved. If you haven’t been in awhile, give it a try. The fish are biting!

Upcoming events
I will conduct a free fishing seminar, Bank and Dock Fishing for Sunfish, White Perch, Catfish and Bass, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, at Gander Mountain. I will cover everything from fishing with cane poles, hooks and bobbers to using live and cut baits. I’ll offer suggestions about the best places to fish from shore and where the white perch are biting. Bring the entire family! Details: 704-658-0822.

Hot spots of the week

Catfish, bass and some stripers are in the main river channel from Marker 7 south to the dam. Best fishing takes place after dark until early morning. White perch continue to please anglers who are “fun fishing” with children are looking for lots of fish to fry. Best bets are deep coves and channel points. The larger fish are 40 to 60 feet deep.

In spite of the heat, bass fishing continues to be good to very good. Deep is the key word. During the day, fish deep docks, deep brush and deep humps. Crappie are biting around bridge pilings after dark, and catfish are plentiful day or night.

Tips from Capt. Gus

Tip your Sabiki fly or jigging spoon with a small piece of white perch. The scent will attract larger perch, cats and bass.

The surface water temperature varies by location but is mainly in the high 80s in open waters. The water level is about 2.1 feet below full pond on Lake Norman. q

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