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Fishin’ with Capt. Gus: Spring isn’t just in the air at Lake Norman

Spring has isprungî and the fish are anxious.  If youíre like many Piedmont residents, it may have been a long time since you wet a line.
These tips will help make your first fishing trip of the new season a productive one:
Get an early start. Sunrise signals the first inning of a fishing day. Fish are particularly active from dawn until an hour or so after sunrise.
Ice, gas and bait. Plan to be on the lake at first light. Load the boat with your supplies and tackle the night before. Donít forget to set the clock.
Sunglasses. Polarized glasses reduce the glare and make it easier to see through the water.
Artificial baits. Swimming lures that imitate the look and action of shad (Shad Raps, Rapalas, Rattle Traps and Redfins) are popular with bass and striper anglers. Soft plastic worms and lizard look-a-likes are preferred when fish are deep and feeding near the bottom.
Live minnows are particularly effective during the spring. They swim naturally when hooked through the nose or lips. To keep them lively, a battery-operated aerator is recommended.
  Hooks, sinkers and bobbers. Match the size of the terminal tackle to the size of the bait for the type of fish you target. When fishing slows, downsize bait, hooks, sinkers and bobbers.
Casting. Nowís a good time to re-spool reels with new line. A 6- to 7-foot medium action spinning rod and reel combination, loaded with 8-pound test line is perfect for most fishing on Piedmont lakes. Optimum performance is achieved when the spinning reel is filled to within an eighth of an inch from the lip of the spool.
Best places to fish: Boat docks are preferred for most species of fish on Lake Norman. Other prime targets include bridge pilings, downed trees, brush piles, channel markers and points of land.
Be sure to have a landing net on board. Place the net in the water and lead the fish into it head first.
  Donít forget to take a camera and share the pictures with those who didnít go with you.
While cruising the banks, watch for wildlife.  Squirrels can be seen scampering along the ground or playfully jumping from branch to branch. Ducks and geese are swimming in pairs and turtles are sunning on logs along the bank. The sky is busy with many types of birds. Itís not uncommon to see an osprey circling its prey, a blue heron flying with its neck tucked in or flocks of turkey buzzards gliding in the thermal air currents. If youíre really fortunate, you might see a bald eagle (white head and tail). There have been several eagle sightings in recent months.
 The far ends of coves are filled with bass, carp and garfish preparing to spawn. Some carp are over 20 pounds and garfish grow to over 3 feet in length.   
Blue heron are plentiful, but hard to see because they stand very still and blend in well with the surroundings. The best place to see them is at Blue Heron Island, the smaller of the two islands between markers D4 and D6, where dozens of mating pairs set up housekeeping and raise chicks.
Upcoming events:
 
iNight Fishing on Lake Norman,î Mitchell College, Mooresville, Tuesday, April 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Capt. Gus Gustafson will discuss how to use scented baits, lights and other techniques to attract fish after dark off boats and docks. The fee for this two-hour session is $25. Call 704-663-1923 to pre-register.
 Safe Boating Class,  Thursday, 6 p.m., April 17. Lighthouse Marine Services is conducting a iHow to use GPS, Sonar and Radar to Navigate and Fish on Lake Norman.î This three-hour class will be  at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. Cost is $25 per person with pre-registration. Call 704-587-0325 or visit www.lmservice.org for more information.
 The Lake Norman Striper Swipersí Spring Classic fishing tournament is planned for April 19-20. This two-day event begins at 6 a.m. Saturday and continues until the weigh-in at 1 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit www.lnssfishn.com.
iIntroduction to Bass Fishing,î Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville, Wednesday, April 23, 6:30 p.m. Call 704-658-0822 for more information on this free seminar.  
Tips from Gus
Small bobbers mean more fish. Larger bobbers are easier to cast and see, but are more difficult for small or medium size fish to tug on. In fact, if a fish detects too much resistance, it might drop the bait before swallowing it.
 The water level is currently 2 feet below full   and dingy in spots. Surface temperature is in the upper 50s to low 60s.

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

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