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Fishin’ with Capt. Gus: Blue Heron Island

GUS GUSTAFSON
Guest Columnist

Early July is the time to visit the Blue Heron rookery on the smaller of the two islands between markers D4 and D6 in Reed Creek. While this island is off limits during nesting season (do not beach your vessel to walk on it), the nesting birds can easily be viewed from afar with binoculars.
Below is a rewrite about Blue Heron Island and its prehistoric looking residents.
Currently, the island is a beehive of activity. The chicks have hatched and are maturing. The parents take turns twenty-four hours a day hunting for food to feed the young birds. When they aren’t foraging, they’re gathering nesting materials (mostly sticks and branches) to enlarge or repair their gigantic nests. At times, there are so many blue herons circling the island, that the air space resembles that of a busy airport.
The nesting season began in the spring and will continue until the chicks are old enough to fly, feed and fend for themselves. The activity on Blue Heron Island is interesting to watch because the tall pines are filled with multiple nests. A closer look finds that each nest has several chicks, all hungry and chirping loudly between feedings.
The more you watch, the more fascinated you will be at how the young birds recognize their parents as they glide back to the nest with a mouthful of food. It is quite a sight to watch birds that weigh up to seven pounds make three point landings between the branches of the lofty pine trees.
Blue Herons are experts at fishing, but also eat snakes and small ground animals. They wade patiently and then stand quietly in place until their quarry is close enough to snare with a quick thrust of their blade like beak. While the adult birds stand upwards of four and a half feet, their necks are so skinny that if a fish gets sideways, it can choke to death. The neck of a juvenile bird is smaller yet, which makes choking a major reason for the species’ high mortality rate.
Blue Heron Island viewing tips:
▪ The shallows surrounding Blue Heron Island are covered with rocks and stumps. Do not venture too close.
▪ The best pictures are taken with a telephoto lens with the sun to your back.
▪ Binoculars are recommended. Everyone in your party should have a pair.
▪ Turn off the boat motor so you can hear the chirping sounds of the chicks as they excitedly welcome their parents return with food.
Upcoming Events:
A Free Safe Boating Class on “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held at Morning Star Marina, Kings Point, Exit 28, Cornelius, NC on July 10th at 6:30 p.m. Becky Johnson and I will cover topics that include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System”, “How to Avoid Shallow Water”,” The Ten Most Dangerous Spots”, and “Interpreting Lake Maps”. For more information, call Becky Johnson at 704 892 7575.
A Free Fishing Seminar: “Introduction to Sonar” – How to use fish finders and down scan imaging to catch more bass, white perch, crappie and catfish on Lake Norman. Jake Bussolini and I will conduct this ninety minute seminar beginning at 6:30 p.m. on July 17th at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, in Mooresville, NC. For additional information, call 704 658 0822
Hot Spots of the Week: Summer fishing for white perch has been excellent throughout the day and around lighted docks at night. One angler reported catching over one hundred pound-size perch near a lighted doc bass  in Ramsey Creek. Spotted bass are surface feeding on river and secondary points, while largemouths’ are hitting soft plastics fished under boat docks and piers.Night fishing for crappie is good under bridges after the boat traffic subsides.
The water level on Lake Norman is approximately 1.5’ below full pond. Mountain Island Lake is 2.9’ below full. Surface water temperatures are in the low to mid-eighties, depending on location or proximity to a power plant.
Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an Outdoor Columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his website, www.fishingwithgus.com or call 704-617-6812. For additional information, e-mailGus@LakeNorman.com.

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