• March 2008 - Volume 15, Number 3


    Sitting in the catbird seat of saltwater management, DMF director Louis Daniel explains what changes N.C. may see in the future.

    The old Johnnie Mercer’s Fishing Pier at Wrightsville Beach was where Louis Daniel, director of North Carolina’s Division of Marine Fisheries, began his love affair with the ocean.

    Three experts reveal tricks of the trade for bagging a dominant gobbler.

    Age and maturity separate the men from the boys.

    This concept seems to be true not only with humans, but with favored hunting targets, specificially white-tailed deer and wild turkey gobblers.

    Wrightsville Beach anglers can find hard-fighting gamefish during March at the Liberty Ship.

    Only a few empty trailers were parked at the parking lot at the Wrightsville Beach Wildlife ramp last March.

    The trailers created a question — was the early run of bonito Capt. Matt Wirt (Reel Adventure Charters, 910-540-0570, www.reel-adventure.com) had found a few days earlier a freak occurrence or had the fish arrived and word hadn’t spread?

    Two experts reveal how to land major hauls of early-season Kerr Lake largemouths.

    A fine line exists between finding early-season bass once in a while at Kerr Lake and consistently landing quality limits.

    It happens every spring as anglers hit Kerr Lake (aka Buggs Island) during early March. They may swing aggressive largemouth after largemouth into their boats and think they’ve solved the lake’s puzzles. However, the next weekend may be a complete water haul with a weigh-in bag that resembles a fat goose egg.

    Put a hook in a “convict fish,” and enjoy Charleston’s winter sheepshead fishery.

    While Old Man Winter is loosening his grip on the coast this month, it’s still a little too early to go fishing for bass and flounder in the creeks.

    Why not make like Wyatt Earp and try to “round-up” as many “convicts” as you can?

    Scouting and patience are the two keys to working this region’s early season gobblers.

    For most South Carolina turkey hunters, nothing is better than hearing several longbeards booming gobbles at dawn on Opening Day.

    But for many, there is a way to improve on the scenario — to begin the season in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

    Marine biologists believe speckled trout will carry the day this spring and summer, and other inshore and bluewater species also look promising.

    How will fishermen fare along South Carolina’s coastline this year?

    To answer that question, all you have to do is forecast the weather.

    At least that’s what Charlie Wenner, a marine biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, has to do when he looks into his crystal ball.

    Once the piedmont’s premier bass spot, Jordan Lake rebounds as a ‘hawg’ heaven.

    During the late 1980s, Jordan Lake, an impoundment divided by U.S. 64 east of Pittsboro, was the hottest largemouth reservoir in North Carolina.

    Anglers regularly caught 50 to 100 largemouth bass a day, the majority 2- and 3-pound football-shaped lunkers with 8- and 10-pounders common. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the dam in 1984, so Jordan had only recently been flooded, and largemouths flourished.

    March is a big transition month — but it’s also a month for big bass catches at Clarks Hill.

    On the calendar, March occupies 31 days — like a lot of the other months.

    But for bass fisherman, March covers an awful lot of ground. Conditions can and will change at the drop of a cold front, and over the course of a little better than four weeks, bass fishing can go from dead to dynamite, from winter to wonderful.

    Coastal rivers swell with shad during the spring, and winter-starved catfish are some of the first to feast on the banquet.

    Even though winter never really gets a good grip on the Lowcountry, the lengthening days of March have a feel to them like none other on the calendar.

    The air smells clean, and the warmth of the sun on your skin is as comforting as a blanket to a 4-year-old. While the woods and swamps seem stark and lifeless, pockets of color from yellow Jessamine are a visual reminder that spring is coming.

    Up-to-date tactics will help you fill your cooler this month with Lake Wateree crappie.

    Years ago, crappie fishing was a pretty laid-back, contemplative fishing experience.

    Using three or four land markers — a large tree, a dock, a point — you located a position where you had caught crappie before and anchored there. Then, you set out cane poles baited with minnows, sat back and contemplated world affairs while waiting on the fish to bite.

    When March winds turn wave tops to sea spray, anglers can pick and choose between four types of hot fishing at Cape Lookout.

    It was a typical day for a usually tepid fishing month — not the dead of winter but not quite spring, as a northeast wind bore down on the North Carolina coast.

    The thermometer reading was in the low 50s, but the wind-chill factor made it feel much colder to tiny patches of exposed anglers’ noses, cheeks and hands. Rainwear with sweatshirts worn underneath was the uniform of the day.

    When opening day arrives at Cherokee, even a blizzard can’t hold anglers at bay.

    He wasn’t looking forward to a six-hour drive through the mountains on slippery, snow-covered roads, but Bryan Shilbett is a dedicated trout fisherman who never fails to show up for opening day of Cherokee’s pay-to-fish trout season.

    Finding spring striped bass at Lake Norman is about knowing where to start and where to finish.

    Spreading across more than 32,000 surface acres, Lake Norman is a pretty big place. But striper anglers trying to figure out where to find fish can eliminate a lot of water just by knowing the habits of their favorite quarry.

    If anglers can find a place to launch a boat, Lake James provides N.C.’s top muskie action.

    It was the perfect day for casting last March.

    The sun was bright and there was no wind except a breeze generated by a fast boat moving at planing speed. The water surface was as smooth as glass and the depths below nearly as clear.

    March is prime tie to catch slab-sized crappie on Lake Wateree. We provide the tactics.