• April 2012 - Volume 7, Number 4


    Follow these instructions, and tagging an old tom will become much easier.

    A grand old South Carolina turkey hunter from yesteryear, Archibald Rutledge, once wrote: “Some men are mere hunters; others are turkey hunters.”

    Those who belong to the latter clan recognize that it is a sport chock full of mishaps, miscues, mistakes, mischances, misses and pure misery. In no other sport do participants actually revel in misfortune, but spend any time in a turkey camp, and it’s a virtual guarantee that you’ll hear at least as many tales involving words and phrases such as “hung up,” “henned up,” “call shy,” and “walk-away gobblers” as you will accounts of success.

    Fishing should be decent, but changes may be coming

    Saltwater fishing in North Carolina, offshore and in coastal waters, shouldn’t be much different in 2012 from the recent past.

    Changes may be coming, with the state legislature’s Committee on Marine Fisheries studying a number of changes in the way North Carolina’s saltwater resources are being managed. Any changes that are made — if any are made — will likely be phased over several years and won’t have an immediate impact on the fish you catch this year, and how many.

    A change of tactics is necessary for North Carolina hunters who travel to different areas of the state in search of nice gobblers.

    The morning hunt had been perplexing. By 8:45, only two toms had sounded off a total of four times on Arthur Dick’s 1,800-acre Willow Oaks Plantation in Rockingham County outside of Eden.

    “We have so many gobblers and hens here,” Dick said, “that sometimes it’s just better to set up 10 yards off an access road, commit to sitting still for an hour or two, and make a couple of clucks.”

    Chose your water — clear or dirty — and set out to catch that big bass this month by following these experts’ advice.

    Badin Lake is full of big bass. To catch them this month, you’ll first have to decide whether you want to fish clean or dirty water. The clean water is for the patient fisherman who favors finesse techniques to catch spawning bass. The dirty water is for the power fisherman who loves to throw big baits into heavy cover.

    Either way, a smart fisherman can have a great time on the water chasing big bass on this beautiful Piedmont reservoir, which covers 5,200 acres on the Yadkin River southwest of Denton. You just have to pick the style you prefer and let Kevin Chandler, Mike Davis and Chris Baldwin share their strategies, honed by years of putting fish in their livewells during tournaments.

    April kicks off great spring fishing for redfish on shallow flats around the area’s sounds, rivers and creeks.

    Okay, no excuses now. The weather is beautiful, the garden is planted and the redfish are biting again. Time to go fishing. Redfishing in the Lowcountry was pretty good all winter, but many anglers were too busy with other outdoor sports or just didn’t like cold-weather fishing ,so they didn’t go.

    Then, come March, as the weather moderates and the sun begins warming the water, anglers get the urge to hit the flats again. Trouble is, the redfish stop biting in March for some reason. Theories exist, but nobody really knows the reason for the early spring lull that has frustrated anglers cursing at spot-tails that won’t eat anything.

    A mountain gem and home to a fine population of trout, Lake Jocassee serves up super April fishing. But in such a deep lake, where do you begin? Here are 10 great spots to get you started.

    Sam Jones doesn’t know why trout relate to structural features that are 100 feet beneath them. More important than “why” they do, though, is knowing “that” they do so and learning which structures attract the most fish any given month.

    Jones, who operates Jocassee Charters, has learned those lessons through longevity. He grew up fishing Upstate waters with his dad, has fished Lake Jocassee for 30 years and has guided for the past 10 years. Jones specialized in controlled-depth trolling for trout, and he often targets fish that suspend well above structural features.

    Stripers, hybrids and gobblers are all on the menu in and around this Upstate reservoir in April.

    One of the best public cast-and-blast opportunities for South Carolina outdoorsmen this month is the Upstate hotspot of Lake Hartwell. Not only is there some sensational striper and hybrid fishing in April, but the Fant’s Grove and Keowee Wildlife Management Areas are both open to turkey hunting and offer an outstanding opportunity to harvest a gobbler.

    According to Tom Swayngham, regional wildlife coordinator for the S.C. Carolina Department of Natural Resources’s Clemson office, both WMAs are located on Lake Hartwell, and both have an excellent populations of turkeys. He said the opportunity for excellent fishing and turkey hunting is there for the taking.

    Bluewater fishermen can reach these powerful, speedy fish out of Little River in the spring, but they’d better take care; the meeting might not be friendly.

    Bluewater fanatics should gear up this month as eddies of warm water move toward the shoreline, kicking off a flurry of action from a favorite reel screamer, the almighty wahoo.

    As springtime conditions arrive, they create a niche for fishermen with a proven recipe to fill the fishbox with feisty wahoo in the clear, cobalt waters off the coast of Little River Inlet.

    Bass fishing in North Carolina can’t get much better than this in April

    The glory days of largemouth bass fishing at Jordan Lake are long gone.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the dam to impound the Haw River and New Hope Creek in 1973, and it took until 1984 to get the lake to full pool. Bass fishing hit its zenith during the next half-dozen or so few years.

    When Jordan first opened to the public, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission hadn’t thought much about creel and size limits, so anglers filled ice chests with football-shaped bucketmouths from two to 10 pounds. It wasn’t unusual to catch 100 fish in a day, especially on one spot, a flooded roadbed — the former Pea Ridge Road — that stretched about a half-mile from Vista Point to a point just east of the current New Hope Overlook boat launch.

    Chances are you drive by one Spartanburg County’s crappie hotspots on your way to the big impoundments. Next time, stop!

    If you live in the Upstate and still make the long drive to either Murray, Clarks Hill or Wateree to load up on springtime crappie, you may be by-passing some overlooked fishing opportunities.

    Several counties along the I-85 corridor are home to a number of small, water-district impoundments that contain both slab crappie and numbers of them to compete with the big lakes. Spartanburg County alone is home to four of these smaller bodies of water that are full of nice crappie.

    Graham and Swain counties offer trout, walleye and smallmouth bass to anglers with a hankering for the fun of a mixed bag.

    When I was a boy growing up in the heart of the Smokies, my Grandpa Joe used to say, in his pithy way, “There ain’t nothing like April.”

    His perspective embraced a variety of considerations — joy that the miseries of winter and cabin fever were at an end, delight in plowing and planting the land on his little farm alongside the Tuckasegee River, buying and raising a bunch of biddies that would become Sunday fried chicken dinners in the not-too-distant future, reveling in the beauty of wildflowers, but most of all, rejoicing in fine fishing.

    Moving from the ocean to the Cape Fear River, redfish give Wilmington-area fishermen plenty of opportunities in April.

    Capt. Stu Caulder discussed the day’s gameplan with his fishing party while idling through a No Wake zone in the Intracoastal Waterway at Wrightsville Beach.

    The target was redfish, and Caulder figured that on a nice, April day, a two-pronged attack might be the ticket. The surf and the marsh might both be productive.

    Cape Fear captains take full advantage of a great springtime run of these fast, aggressive fish. Here’s how to join them:

    Capt. Butch Foster fired up the engines of Yeah Right, his 34-foot Chris Craft. On a chilly spring morning, his fishing party for the day was inside Southport Marina, drinking steaming cups of coffee.

    The were all getting wired for wahoo.

    Many fishermen haven’t recognized the potential for an early spring trip to the bluewater. If they did, they’d make a beeline to the coast, and the first big fish they’d likely encounter is a wahoo.

    Great spring days are in store for flounder anglers and turkey hunters.