Todd Probst of Concord, NC holds a Lake Norman striped bass.
Photo courtesy of Capt. Gus

Hooking oneself happens to most anglers sooner or later. Some stories are quite funny after the fact, and make for great jokes. But, when hooks are handled in a careless manner, the danger is real, and there is always the potential of serious injury to eye, body and limb. Modern fish hooks are very sharp. In fact, so sharp, that little, if any, pressure is required to penetrate the hard mouth of a fish, or for that matter, any part of the angler’s body. Furthermore, being hooked is a painful and stressful experience.

To minimize the chances of getting hooked, consider the following:

  • Keep hooks, lures and tackle boxes away from everyone’s reach – especially children.
  • Wear glasses to protect your eyes while fishing.
  • Don’t fish in bare feet.
  • Be sure the casting area is clear, particularly behind you.
  • Don’t allow bare hooks and lures to tangle or swing freely. Securely attach the hook to the hook holder near the fore-grip of the rod handle or to another convenient place on the rod or reel.
  • Place rigged fishing outfits in rod holders or storage compartments. Never allow them to lie on the deck when not in use.
  • Should a cast cause a lure to hang up, don’t try to yank or pull it loose. This can cause the hook or lure to fly toward you like a missile. It’s best to work back to the hang up and attempt to unhook it by hand.
  • Net, gaff or hand lip fish, don’t try to flip them into the boat.
  • Give yourself plenty of slack line while attempting to gain control of your catch. Hold it tightly, either by the mouth (if it doesn’t have teeth), or behind the gills. Then attempt to remove the hook.
  • Expect your catch to wiggle and flip at any time, so keep a tight grip.
  • Needle nose pliers might be required to remove deeply embedded hooks.
  • In the event you get hooked or hook someone else, remain calm. Clip off the line attached to the hook or lure before seeking professional help.
  • It’s best to allow a doctor to remove the hook, not another fisherman.

Tips from Capt. Gus: Sometimes it’s not the hook that wounds you, but the sharp fins, spines or teeth of your catch. In either case, a tetanus shot might be required.

Hot Spots of the Week: What difference a few days make. The weather has changed dramatically and so has the fishing. Striper and hybrid fishing is improving, while bass and crappie have retreated to deeper water. The good news is that colder weather has increased the persistence of sea birds, making it easier to locate surface feeding schools of fish.

In the coming weeks, expect to find schooling bass, perch, hybrids and stripers suspended in water to depths to seventy feet. Best bets are Hicks and Stumpy Creeks and in the main river channel south of the Highway 150 Bridge to channel marker 15. Further downstream, fish will be active in deeper sections of Mountain Creek and its tributaries, as well as in Reed and Davison Creeks.

Not all fish will be taken from super deep water. Bass, in particular, can be taken on soft plastics and on slow moving jerk and/or crank baits, when fished around deep docks or river and creek channel points.

Upcoming Events: Free Fishing Seminar – “Using Sonar, Down Scan, Structure Scan and GPS to Catch More Fish in 2016” – Jake Bussolini and I will discuss the theory and practical application of locating and landing fish with the aid of electronics. This ninety-minute session will begin at 6:30 p.m. on January 20th at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, in Mooresville, NC. For additional information, call 704 658 0822.

Lake Norman is about 2.9’ below full pond and is 3.0’ below at Mountain Island Lake. The water surface temperature is in the low to mid-fifties.