A twist on a Christmas classic

By Gus Gustafson

“A Visit from Capt. Gus” has become a Lake Norman tradition and is being repeated again this holiday season. Enjoy!  
 
‘Twas the night before fishing, and all through the lake,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a snake;
The poles were stuck in the rod holders with care,
In hopes that a big fish would soon be there;
The kids were nestled all snug in the vessel,
While dreaming of fishes they soon would wrestle;
And mama in her winter duds and I in my fishing cap,
Had just settled down on our watery mat,
When out on the lake there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
I flew to the stern where I saw a big splash, and
Before I knew it, I heard a big crash.
The moon on the breast of the water below
Gave a luster of silver and made everything glow,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature boat pulled by eight tiny fish, or were they reindeer?
With a tall old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be a trick.
More rapid than bonefish his coursers they came,
And he tooted and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Bass! Now, Trout! Now, Bream and Flathead, too!
On, Striper! On Perch! On Crappie and Blue!
To the top of the dam! To the head of the falls!
Now swim away! Swim away! Swim away all!”
As waves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to our vessel the coursers they flew,
With a boat load of fish and Capt. Gus, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard with a swish
The flipping and flopping of each little fish.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the mast came Capt. Gus with a bound.
He was dressed in Red Gore-Tex, from his head to his toe,
And his clothes were all smelly from scales and minnows;
A box full of tackle he carried on his back,
And he looked like a fish peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes-they looked fishy! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like redfish, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was bowed like a rod,
And the beard on his chin was as white as a cod (fish).
The end of a fishing line he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke from the motor encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a narrow face and a flat little belly,
It didn’t shake much like a bowl full of jelly.
He wasn’t chubby and plump, just a tall old elf,
That made me laugh when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A fishing rod in hand and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stringers, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the mast he rose;
He jumped in his boat, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all swam with the speed of a missile.
But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,
“Merry Fish-mas to all, and to all a good-night.”
 
Tips from Capt. Gus
Here’s a last minute gift idea: The best time of the year to purchase marine electronics (fish finders, GPS and radar) is between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15, when the 2010 models are closed out at large discounts.
 
Hot spots of the week
Cold weather has slowed the fishermen, but not the fish. Lots of spotted bass and white perch are being caught on jigs and bucktails in most major creek channels. A few stripers are biting live bait up river.
Catfish are in the warmer waters of Ramsey and McCrary creeks.

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. His website is www.fishingwith
gus.com. Contact him at 704-617-6812 or Gus@LakeNorman.com.

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