Fishing with Gus

In the world of bass fishing, a rig can be defined as any combination of line/wire, terminal tackle, gadgets or lures attached in a way that will catch fish.

The most popular one for a long time was the Carolina Rig, a bottom-bumping rig primarily used to catch bass on soft plastic lures. Over the years, other rigs, including the Texas, Drop-Shot and Shaky-Head rigs have won tournaments.

In late 2011, a new rig skyrocketed in popularity when it won a bass tournament in Alabama. The Alabama Rig is a multi-lure rig, designed to imitate a school of swimming baitfish. Since the A-Rig’s emergence, anglers have won tournament after tournament using it.

A large number of bass over five pounds are tempted to hit one of the five or more lures that make up the typical A-Rig. Even more interesting, multiple hook-ups, (two or three bass on a single cast) have become commonplace.

Anglers are finding the A-Rig to be extremely versatile, as it can be cast or trolled depending on circumstances. In fact, recreational anglers are trolling with lead-core line and down riggers to get the A-Rig deeper.

While black bass was the original target for the A-Rig, striper and hybrid striped bass have been caught as well. Because it is smaller than the umbrella rig used to catch larger saltwater stripers and bluefish, it is less expensive and quite effective in area lakes where stripers and hybrids have been stocked.

As one would expect, the popularity of the A-Rig has driven up the price and made it difficult to find. Expect to pay $15 (average price $25) or more for the basic rig, plus the cost of the lures. A recent search found the Alabama Rig in stock at most fishing tackle outlets, including Gander Mountain, The Bass Pro-Shops, Tackle Town and The Great Outdoors.

If you wish to save a few bucks, do what a lot of anglers are doing and make your own! The materials needed, including molds for rig and jig heads, wire, swivels, snaps and miscellaneous items can be bought online or locally at Tackle Town (704-483-1007) in Maiden.

Tips from Capt. Gus

During the winter months, some of the best fishing is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. During these hours, the water surface warms a bit, and fish swim closer to the surface, which makes them easier to catch.

Hot spots of the week

Anglers fishing near diving sea birds are being rewarded with nice catches of bass, perch and stripers. Surface action can occur at anytime, so keep a watchful eye to the sky. Best bets are where creek runs meet the main river channel and anywhere large concentrations of sea gulls and terns are flying low or resting on the water. Those targeting bass are finding them on sunny shallow banks in the afternoon. White perch fishermen are finding them in water to 70 feet in depth.

The surface water temperature is in the 40s and low 50s. The lake level is about 2.9 feet below full pond on Lake Norman.

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