Fishing with Capt. Gus: Christmas week perfect time on the lake

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The week between Christmas and New Years is a great time to fish for striped bass, catfish, crappie and bass on Lake Norman.

Many people are on vacation, so try to get an early start. Lake access parking lots fill early and the better fishing holes will see plenty of anglers. Holiday weather varies from year to year as weather systems roll through, but usually there are several nice days to be on the water.

For boat owners, fishing is easy. Tow the boat to the lake and enjoy great holiday fishing. Everyone is not so lucky. Many must fish from the shore, rent a boat or find a guide or friend to go with.

Public access to shoreline fishing is only permitted in a few locations. The Lake Norman State Park near Troutman (704-528-6350) offers excellent fishing. Shoreline fishing is permitted on the small landlocked body of water known as Park Lake. In addition, the fishing pier next to the new swimming area is open to the public on weekends during the winter. Expect to catch bass, bream, catfish and crappie from the small lake, and don’t be surprised if a striped bass tugs on your line when fishing from the pier. A freshwater fishing license is required when bank fishing. Licenses can be purchased at local tackle shops or online at http://www.ncwildlife.org/.

Bank fishing is also permitted during certain times at the McGuire Nuclear Station off N.C. 73 near Huntersville and at the Marshall Steam Station off N.C. 150 in Terrell. Bass, catfish, perch and stripers are caught during the cooler months. Bottom fishing with cut bait, minnows and worms is effective in both locations.

Saltshaker Marine (704-892-5990) and Westport Marina (704-483-5172) rent pontoon boats and will be open during the holidays. The number of boats is limited, so don’t wait until the last minute to reserve one. Pontoons make excellent fishing platforms and can accommodate large groups.

A fun way to kill a few hours on a chilly day is to visit the large freshwater aquarium at the Bass Pro Shops at Concord Mills. This live display features big bass, catfish, crappie and other fish native to area lakes. Enjoy the fish feeding presentations scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, noon on Thursday and 2 p.m. each Saturday.

Upcoming events

The North Carolina Catfish Association Tournament Series (NCCATS) will hold its winter meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 6 at the Boxcar Grille, I-40, Exit 135, in Claremont. For additional information, visit http://www.nccats.net/ or call Omar Edwards at 828-312-4486.

Capt. Gus Gustafson will be at the Bass Pro Shops, Concord Mills, on Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. to show how to catch white perch at Lake Norman. The 90-minute seminar is free and open to the public. Call 704-979-2200 for more information.

The Lake Norman Striper Swipers Open Winter Classic Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27. First place earns $1,500. This biggest one- day striper fishing event of the season will be at Queen’s Landing, N.C. 150 in Mooresville. For more information, visit http://www.lnssfishn. com/ or call Tommy Messick at 704-634-6410.

One final tip

It’s a good idea to stretch new line after loading it on the reel. This can be done by pulling out 50 to 100 feet of line behind a slow moving boat. The water pressure will remove all memory from the monofilament line and will reduce the risk of developing a bird’s nest when casting.

Lake Norman hot spots

Areas in and around the two hot water discharge chutes where cold water temperatures have concentrated baitfish and where stripers and bass are feeding. The lake level is 96.4 or 3.4 feet below full pond and the water surface temperature is in the low 50s. Fishing has been good to very good for stripers and bass.

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Visit http://www.fishingwithgus. com/ or call Gus Gustafson at 704-489-0763, or e-mail him at Gus@LakeNorman.com.

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