Fishing with Gus

A look at history tells us that seafood was so plentiful, that striped bass, eels, clams and lobster shared the table with turkey at the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving.

So the story goes, the Wampanoag Indians not only taught the Pilgrims how to catch fish for food, but also how to use it as fertilizer for their corn and vegetable crops.

The sweet-tasting meat of striped bass became so popular with the New World settlers, that some wonder why turkey has the featured position on today’s Thanksgiving platter.

So, if you, like many, are tired of turkey, consider having fish for Thanksgiving.

The following recipes work well for striped bass, largemouth bass or any other mild fish filet.

Tim Schafer’s Striped Bass Fillets in a Buttermilk Bread Crumb Crust

This crust makes the outside of the fish crunchy and the inside moist and flaky. It serves four. You’ll be out of the kitchen in 30 minutes.

• 4 to 8-ounce striped bass fillets

• 2 cups of buttermilk

• 3 cups of seasoned bread crumbs

• 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

• 1 lemon cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour buttermilk into a bowl, and place fish in the buttermilk. Next, coat the fillets in bread crumbs and pat on extra crumbs. Place fillets on an oiled baking tray. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown and fish is flaky but firm. Serve with a fresh slice of lemon.

Michelle Armstrong’s Pretzel Fish

• Buttermilk

• 2 egg whites

• 2 cups of pretzels (crushed)

• 1 teaspoon of thyme

• Pepper to taste

Soak filets in buttermilk for 10 minutes. Mix pretzels, thyme and pepper. Dip fish in egg, then in pretzel mix and coat both sides. Pan fry until light brown and crispy.

Capt. Rick’s Spanish-Style Striper

• 1/8 cup of olive oil

• 1 diced (or sliced) white onion

• Fresh garlic to taste

• 1 chopped red bell pepper

• 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or paprika

• Salt to taste

• 1 cup white wine

Heat olive oil to medium high. Add onion, fresh minced garlic and red bell pepper. Sauté until tender. Place fish filets directly on top of the simmering mixture. Allow fish to cook approximately 7 minutes, then flip. Add 1 cup of white wine and allow it to evaporate. Add salt and cayenne to taste. Cover for 10 minutes with heat on very low.

Upcoming events

The Ryan Newman Foundation will hold its sixth annual Charity Fishing Tournament from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 10, at Blythe Landing, Huntersville. Details: www.ryannewmanfoundation.org.

Tips from Capt. Gus

• Wear latex surgical gloves to keep hands dry when dipping bait.

• Boots with 200 grams or more of Thinsulate will keep your feet warm on cold days.

• Find pocket warmers at local tackle shops for a dollar or two. They last all day.

• Gore-Tex outerwear will keep wind and rain from penetrating your clothing.

Hot spots of the week

Perch and spotted bass are biting. Some reports indicate that spotted bass are so plentiful, that they are being caught two and three at a time on Alabama or Sabiki rigs. Bass are schooling over submerged brush piles, under water islands and in the middle of coves. White perch are also hitting Sabiki rigs fished vertically and on crappie minnows positioned near the bottom. Anglers fishing deep brush piles and bridge pilings are catching 20-fish limits of crappie (some over 15 inches long).

The lake level on Lake Norman is down about 4.1 feet from full pond. The water’s surface temperature is in the 50s and low 60s.

Capt. Gus Gustafson is a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Details: 704-617-6812 or www.fishingwithgus.com