Capt. Gus: Fall fishing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Each fall, a group of 50-plus surf-fishermen venture to North Carolina’s Outer Banks in search of red drum, bluefish, flounder and trout.
In past years, the Blues Brothers, as they are called, chose to fish the week before Thanksgiving, but this year they changed the date to the last week in October. The change proved to be a good one, since the weather was warm and big red drum were blitzing the surf at the Point of Cape Hatteras.
John Alden of Stanley and his son John Alden Jr. had the surf fishing trip of a lifetime the night of Oct. 23. The father and son duo could not contain themselves the next morning, as they related the events of the previous night’s fishing.
It seems the big reds had been running the beach for more than a week. Knowing that the best bite was at sunset, they arrived at the point in time to take their place next to dozens of other hopeful surf-casters.
As expected, the drum began to hit as the sun started setting on the horizon. First, one angler hooked up, then another, and the blitz was on. The fish ranged in length from 3 to 4 feet, which is big enough to tax any angler’s skill in heavy surf.
The Alden’s used bait-casting reels mounted on long surf rods, capable of tossing a 7-ounce, frog-tongue sinker with fresh mullet strips, hundreds of feet into the ocean.
As night fell, the crowd dwindled, though the red drum blitz was still in full swing. The Aldens hooked fish after fish, losing a few to the unyielding surf, but catching so many that they were exhausted when the bite eventually subsided sometime after 11 p.m.
In total, they caught and released eight red drum, four each, and lost another four or so. The largest measured over 40 inches.
If you’ve ever fished the surf after dark, you know how challenging it is. Not only do red drum put up quite a battle, but the pounding surf wears down even the fittest of anglers. Not to mention, the aggravation of untangling lines and backlashes in the dark, while others around you are fighting fish.
Big and Little John Alden weren’t the only ones who landed large fish that week.
Dick Megorden, an accomplished angler from Charlotte, caught a personal best, 40 3-inch red drum. Others with big catches included Ed Goodwin of Wilmington, Walter Scholtz of Charlotte, and Tim Davis of Huntersville.
Upcoming Events:
A Free Fishing Seminar on “Electric Trolling Motor Maintenance” is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. Bill Hassig of Fishermen’s Friend in Kannapolis will discuss ways to maximize the performance and improve the battery life of your motor. Everyone who owns or is considering the purchase of an electric trolling motor should plan to attend this informative session. For additional information, call 704-658-0822.
Hot Spots of the Week:
Spotted bass fishing is excellent throughout the day using traditional methods. Best baits are soft plastics and buzz baits. White perch continue to hit minnows and jigs in water to 30 feet.
As has been the case all year, Sabiki flies, rigged in tandem with a jigging spoon, allow the angler to catch more than one at a time. A few stripers are being caught on shad, herring and shiners in the river channel between Markers 19 and 23.
The lake level on Lake Norman is down 4.6 feet from full pond and down 2.7 feet on Mountain Island Lake. The water surface temperature is in the 60s.Capt. Gus Gustafson, licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a member of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and a professional sport fishing guide on Lake Norman. Visit his Web site at, e-mail him at or call 704-617-6812.