Fishing with Gus

This is a fish tale, because it begins with the words, “This is no lie.”

Two brothers had fished for years. Both were competitive, but Larry was the better angler.

On a trip to Canada, Larry and Jim hired a guide to take them fishing. Day one was a success, with both anglers catching plenty of fish. But it wasn’t long before competitive issues surfaced. On the second day, Jim couldn’t catch a fish, but Larry was landing one after another.

As the day wore on, Jim began to blame the guide for the poor fishing at his end of the boat. Each time Larry caught a fish, Jim badgered the guide, claiming that he was too far from the bank or that his lure wasn’t as good as the one his brother was casting.

Finally, the guide couldn’t take Jim’s abuse any longer, so he headed back to camp early. The bickering continued that evening. Finally, an argument resulted in Jim saying that he would not be fishing with the guide or his brother, Larry, the next day.

While Larry headed up lake with the guide, Jim trudged down the bank to fish from shore for whatever would bite. Fishing was slow. Larry didn’t get a single hit on the guided trip. All the while, he was thinking how bad it would be if he returned to camp to find that Jim had caught a big pike or muskie fishing from the bank without a guide.

Jim’s luck wasn’t any better. He tried and tried and never got a bite. After finally giving up, he walked back to the fish camp empty-handed and still upset about yesterday’s episodes with the guide. He found himself within shouting distance of the camp, when he came upon an Indian fishing from the bank. As he passed, the Indian raised a stringer of fish that was almost too heavy to lift.

Larry and the guide had just arrived at the dock, when they saw Jim ambling down the trail with his fishing rod in one hand and a long stringer of fish slung over his back. Larry couldn’t believe that his brother caught that many fish from the shore without a guide. The guide was even more shocked!

Jim’s gigantic stringer became a legend over time. Sometime during each occasion that brought the brothers together, the conversation always gravitated to the sight of Jim hauling all those fish over his shoulder. The story became embellished to the point that the stringer was so heavy, that Jim had to drag the fish in the dirt back to camp.

Years later, Jim passed away. No one in the family, including Larry, could figure out why Jim left this world for the happy fishing grounds with such a big smile on his face. Could it be because he never mentioned buying that stringer of fish from the Indian?

You might find this story hard to believe, but “this is no lie.”

Tips from Gus

When unhooking white perch, hold them from underneath. This will reduce the chance of being stabbed by its sharp pointed fins and gills. Likewise, keep your hands away from the pointed and barbed dorsal and pectoral fins of a catfish.

Hot spots of the week

Spotted bass fishing is excellent, with some anglers catching 50 or more during a single outing. Fish soft plastics off channel points and try jigging spoons, fished vertically over suspended fish. Large schools of white perch are being located in water from 20 to 40 feet deep. Catfish are still quite active, in spite of cooling water temperatures. Striper fishing remains spotty, but those being caught are hitting live baits and jigging spoons.

The lake level on Lake Norman is down about 4.6 feet from full pond. The water surface temperature is in the low 60s.

Capt. Gus Gustafson is a full-time professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Details: 704-617-6812 or