Fishing with Gus

This is a fish tale about Rusty Hook, a retired Native American medicine man. Some might find it hard to believe, but there is a little bit of truth in every fish tale.

Rusty Hook began handcrafting fishing lures and opened a tackle shop after being forced to retire when his powers waned. The lures quickly gained notoriety for their beauty and ability to catch fish.

Everyone wanted them, but there was one problem. The lures were overpriced, so they gathered dust and rust on the shelves and hangers in the tackle shop. Undaunted, the retired medicine man continued to make lures until the store was bulging at the seams.

His overpriced tackle became the brunt of many jokes. As his lures rusted away in the shop, he became known as Rusty Hook.

Eventually, a man named Brook befriended Rusty and helped him get his fledgling tackle shop on track. They renamed the business “Rusty Hook’s Bait and Tackle.” Quickly, it became a gathering place for local fishermen.

One day, Brook was summoned to the hospital where Rusty Hook lay on his deathbed. Rusty Hook handed him the most beautiful fishing lure anyone had ever seen. “Don’t lose it,” he murmured, as his spirit passed on to the happy fishing grounds in the sky.

The lure was too pretty not to be used. So Brook fished with it every chance he could. Each time he used it, he landed a trophy fish, until one day a big one parted the line and swam away with Rusty Hook’s lure in its mouth.

Brook, remembering Rusty Hook’s final words, “Don’t lose it,” looked skyward, to seek forgiveness. That is when he saw an eagle feather floating down from the sky.

Was the feather sighting a coincidence or a sign of forgiveness from his departed friend?  Brook didn’t know for sure, but he never again landed a trophy fish.

Upcoming events

• The Lake Norman Sail & Power Squadron will hold a boater safety class at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 2, at the Mount Mourne Volunteer Fire Department, 1577 Mecklenburg Hwy. The class costs $45 and includes a student manual and lunch. Register in advance. Details: Bob Yannacci, 704-660-5568 or

• I’ll conduct a free boating class, “How to Safely Navigate Lake Norman,” at 6:30 p.m. June 13 at North Point Watersports, 112 Doolie Road. Topics will include understanding Lake Norman’s channel marker and buoy system, avoiding dangerous spots and navigating in low-water conditions. Details: 704-617-6812 or

• I’ll conduct a free seminar, How to Catch More Fish this Summer Using Sonar and GPS, at 6:30 p.m. June 20 at Gander Mountain, 236 Norman Station Blvd. Bring questions and fish finder/GPS instruction booklets to the 90-minute session. Details: call 704-658-0822.

Hot spots of the week

White perch fishing is excellent. The best lures to use are pieces of worms, crappie minnows and Sabiki rigs fished just off the bottom in water from 20 to 40 feet deep.

Perch continue to be in Reed, Mountain and Stumpy creeks. Spotted bass are hitting along the shoreline at dawn and dusk and around deep docks and river humps during the day.

Blue cats are hitting fresh cut bait in coves and on shallow points, while flatheads are hitting live bream and perch.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the 70s and 80s in waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 1.3 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and about 2.9 feet below on Mountain Island Lake.

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