• February 2012 - Volume 19, Number 2


    Bladen County squirrel hunters have let their sport go to the dogs.

    It didn’t take long for Terry Nance and his brother Cody to hit paydirt. Minutes after they opened the doors of the kennel in the back of a pickup truck and released several dogs into the woods in rural Bladen County, the were rewarded with excited barking.

    Reefs and wrecks outside of Bulls Bay provide great winter action for anglers targeting this tasty fish.

    Diehard anglers willing to tough out February’s chilly breezes can face a commanding challenge from one of the most powerful fish of winter. Sheepshead, aka “convicts of the sea” for their striped outerwear, migrate from jagged inshore dwellings to reefs and wreck just a hop and skip outside the mouth of Bulls Bay. They arrive at these undersea retreats in massive schools to spend the winter, preparing for the early spring spawn. They become overly aggressive, contributing to the mind-blowing action that’s practically unknown to many South Carolina anglers.

    Ashmore Heritage Preserve offers plenty of squirrels and not much hunting pressure.

    Enter just about any standing timber, and squirrels will call it home. Be it a local woodlot, dense swamps of the Lowcountry, or high mountain ridges, squirrels live pretty much everywhere. Their chatter and scurrying around in the leaves have annoyed many deer hunters and brought smiles to many youngsters hoping to get a shot at some of these fast running, high climbing acrobats of the canopy.

    The string of fabulous whitetails shows that North Carolina is capable of producing trophy racks from almost every corner of the state.

    As a magazine that tries to discover and present to its readers the most-impressive deer killed in the Tarheel State each year, North Carolina Sportsman closely monitors the annual white-tail harvest.

    It’s never too ‘early’ to sample this Triangle-area lake’s fine crappie fishing.

    Ask most crappie fishermen when they’d rather be targeting slabs, and most all of them will say spring: March, April or May.

    Fish the beachfront off Onslow County’s shoreline and do battle with big schools of wintering red drum.

    The bone-chilling conditions of February offer some of the best light-tackle angling of the year in the surf of Onslow Bay. Between the shores of Topsail Beach and Bogue Inlet to the north, huge schools of red drum pack into the surf in just a few feet of water to escape the wrath of porpoises. Fishermen tossing scented soft plastics will quickly be rewarded by strikes from these famished beasts in the gin-clear winter waters.

    By February, the fishing action is heating up on “the lower lake,” as Lake Moultrie is most often known by Santee Cooper locals.

    From an above-water vantage, it all looks the same. A 60,000-bowl, Lake Moultrie has minimal visible cover, except around its edges. Beneath the surface, though, the story changes. Swamps, hills, valleys, farms, ponds, roads, creeks, rivers and more create a widely varied “landscape”, so much of the best fishing occurs in places that “look like nothing” from the boat.

    Don’t pass up the preserve ‘option’ if you’ve got a hankering for February quail.

    At one time or other, most bird hunters said, “I wouldn’t think of hunting at a hunting preserve.”

    Lower Roanoke River, western Albemarle Sound hold hungry, winter striped bass waiting to start their spring spawning runs.

    February delivers bone-chilling conditions across much of North Carolina and, surprising to some, sizzling striped bass angling on the lower section of the Roanoke River, near its confluence with the Albemarle Sound.

    Charleston anglers can catch winter redfish on either end of the tide cycle by following these expert tips.

    Winter and cold weather does not mean the end of shallow-water fishing for redfish. February can be highly productive using two different techniques, at the high or low end of the tide.

    Veteran angler Robbie Cortis of Mount Pleasant fishes traditional hotspots such as points and deep holes and cover such as bridges, piers, wooden pilings and docks on higher tides.

    When the water gets cold, trolling for big trout takes center stage on this mountain reservoir.

    Lake Jocassee is a mountain lake located in the northwestern corner of the state, split between Oconee and Pickens counties, its headwaters across the North Carolina line.

    Bulls Bay is a great place to load the cooler with big sheepshead, and the same is true at Lake Moultrie for catfish.