Fishing with Gus

A story published in the March 16 edition of this newspaper mentioned that the largest fish population in Lake Norman was the striped bass and that the introduction of hybrid striped bass would diminish an already limited food supply. Both statements are without merit.

There are so few stripers in Lake Norman that forage fish (shad and herring) actually die of natural causes. Fishermen know there are more than enough bait fish in the lake to support a hybrid bass fishery. Ask any angler who throws a cast net for bait or knows how to interpret the images on a sonar screen, and you’ll hear there is plenty of bait and fewer stripers than at any time in the last 20 years.

Jake Bussolini, author of “Jake’s Take on the Lake” and an avid Lake Norman fisherman, believes mass fish kills among stripers have led to an exponential increase in shad, leaving plenty of bait fish for crappie and catfish.

“Even with fewer people fishing this year due to the economy, most fishermen will tell you that the size of bait schools is larger than ever,” Bussolini said.

So, why doesn’t the state stock hybrids instead of stripers – a fish that can withstand Lake Norman’s harsh environment? This question has been on the table for years. No one knows why hybrids are stocked in other North Carolina impoundments, but not in Lake Norman.

Hot spots of the week

Large bass are being caught on spawning beds. The beds are easy to find with polarized glasses. Smaller bass are feeding on shad in back coves and pockets at daylight and just before dark.

Crappie, many larger than normal, are around stick-ups and brush piles. Some say that crappie fishing is the best it has been in years.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the 60s and 70s. The water level is about 2.9 feet below full pond on Lake Norman.

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