Catching river monsters takes tools, skill
Big fish on. Fish lost. That’s the short version of most fish tales.
While the time, place, conditions and type of fish vary with each tale, the end result is always the same: big fish on or fish lost.
So what is one to do differently if he wants to land a river monster?
First, be certain that all tackle is in good repair and functional:
• Inspect rods for loose or worn guides.
• Clean and lubricate reels.
• Check the drag for smoothness. Set it at less than half the line’s breaking strength.
• Assure that hooks are sharp.
• Be certain knots are tight.
• Don’t forget the landing net. A large net is necessary if you expect to land a trophy fish.
When a big one hits, keep a tight line and a bowed fishing rod while facing the fish. A strong fish will pull line from the reel. Don’t be concerned, as a properly set drag will let the line go without breaking or pulling the hook.
Landing takes time. A “green” fish is more likely to free itself than one that is tired and spent.
Getting a big fish to the boat is only half the battle. The next step is to boat it. This is done by lipping the fish by hand using the thumb and forefinger or leading it into a landing net. It goes without saying, that fish with teeth should be netted and only head first.
Attempting to net a fish from the side or from behind will result in a lost fish. Aside from netting head first, assure that the net is set deep enough in the water so that the fish is not able to dive below it. Quickly lift the netted fish out of the water and into the boat.
Finally, get the fish out of the net and unhooked before taking pictures. Be certain to hold the fish tightly, otherwise, it could wiggle free and instead of a picture, you will have another story about the one that got away.
Tips from Gus
If it smells, use it for catfish bait. Catfish eat almost anything, including shrimp, pizza crust, grapes and leftover table scraps. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You might even catch a big one on a gummy worm.
Hot spots of the week
Spotted bass are being caught throughout the day on shallow points and around river humps as they feed on shad minnows. Top water baits are best to use. Some anglers add an ice fly trailer to entice more strikes.
Large schools of white perch are 20 to 40 feet deep. Jigging spoons and vertically fished Sabiki rigs are the baits of choice.
Flathead catfishing is very good for those who use live white perch for bait.
The lake level on Lake Norman is about 2.4 feet below full pond. The surface water temperature is about 90 degrees in water not affected by power generation.
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.