• July 2012 - Volume 7, Number 7


    Fisherman can experience the ‘wow factor’ in the Calibogue Sound as summer arrives.

    Once practiced only by hosts of TV fishing shows, catch-and-release is now commonplace among anglers and has gained a strong saltwater following. This changes the criteria for what makes a sportfish desirable, because without table quality what is left to judge a fish by?

    The “wow” factor.

    A fish with a veracious appetite, smoking speed and brute strength screams “Wow.” Add easy accessibility, vivid surface strikes and a street-fighter attitude and the wow factor goes off the charts.

    July is an ‘offshore’ month for largemouth bass on Lake Wateree. Here’s where to look.

    Lake Wateree in known for producing great springtime action for quality largemouth bass, but once the weather turns hot, many fishermen move on to other lakes.

    According to some very knowledgeable bass fishermen, that’s a big mistake. July and the rest of the summer can provide some of the hottest bass fishing of the entire year on Wateree if you do some “deep thinking” — as in “deep-water thinking.”

    Underutilized and underrated, convict fish can make for some sweet seafood dinners. Here’s how to put them in your corral.

    While easing across the no-wake zone at the State Ports in Morehead City, Matt Lamb was paying a lot of attention to just how the tide was moving and how strong it was flowing. He had several buckets of fiddler crabs and sea urchins, and the gameplan was to invite some tasty sheepshead home for dinner. The velocity and direction of the tide would determine exactly where the day would begin and how it would progress.

    Lamb, who owns and operates Chasin’ Tails Outdoors on the Atlantic Beach causeway and guides whenever he isn’t in the shop or fishing a redfish tournament, said sheepshead fishing in the Morehead City and Atlantic Beach area is underrated and underutilized. He has found good numbers of these fish wearing the convict stripes, and there are still many areas he hasn’t explored that he feels would be productive.

    Wrightsville Beach is jumping-off point for great nearshore action on king mackerel, dolphin.

    The huddle at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s boating-access area at Wrightsville Beach took place before dawn — while there were still enough parking spaces for vehicles. One of the busiest ramps on the coast on weekends, it serves a heavily populated area and is the jumping-off point for some of the best nearshore saltwater combo fishing anywhere.

    Capt. Jim Sabella of Plan 9 Fishing Charters fired the engine on his center console to head out of Masonboro Inlet, the epicenter of king mackerel tournament fishing, but in the heat of the summer, also home to schools of burnt bronze dolphin, aka mahi mahi.

    Summer is topwater time at this big Savannah River impoundment, as roving bass and stripers ambush schools of blueback herring and threadfin shad.

    Run and gun, run and gun, run and gun. For bass pro Brian Latimer of Belton, summer bass fishing at Lake Hartwell means making milk runs in search of active fish. Somewhere along the way, he expects to find bass, and when he does, things can get pretty exciting, with bass, hybrids and stripers all hammering topwater lures.

    “It’s a huge topwater time,” Latimer said, “The herring suspend over tree, humps and long, flat points, and bass and stripers move around in big wolf packs, ambushing the baitfish.”

    North Carolina’s newest lake is still hot in sizzling weather.

    When Randleman Regional Reservoir — popularly known as Randleman Dam Lake — opened its gates for the first time at 8 o’clock one morning in March 2010, anglers towing bass boats were ready to go. In fact they’d been ready to go for hours, some since the previous night. The line of boas stretched a half-mile down the access road in anticipation of being among the first watercrafts on the lake.

    Rebreast sunfish make this wild, scenic river a fisherman’s dream.

    Dalton Reams of Sumter summed up a sure-fire way to land a mess of redbreast sunfish on the Lynches River in July.

    “See that stump? Now look at that eddy just below it. And do you see that trickle of water from that incoming creek just below the eddy?” Reams asked.

    Moments later, he cast a No. 2 Mepps Aglia spinner between the stump and the eddy. After a few turns on the handle of his reel, his ultralight spinning rod bowed. For a second, the dark water of the Lynches glowed red, then Reames lifted a brightly-colored redbreast bream out of the river.

    Lower Cape Fear is perfect ‘summer home’ for plenty of specks. Here’s how to catch them.

    Fishermen have many options in the lower Cape Fear River during the summer, with redfish, flounder and sheepshead available from Snow’s Cut all the way to the Bald Head Island jetties.

    And low and behold, one of North Carolina’s premier gamefish, the speckled trout, will be congregated in familiar places.While most anglers restrict trout talk to the fall and the early spring , these spotted delicacies will be swarming inshore waters, spawning and pouncing on any food they come across. By using the right stuff in the right places, fishermen can catch trout well into the summer.

    Ocracoke Island is out of the way, but it’s one of North Carolina’s best coastal fisheries, offering a summer smorgasborg for anglers.

    On the highways that run south from Corolla, the village of Ocracoke is the end of the line on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Other inlets are more-easily accessed; getting to Ocracoke is a test of patience or a relaxing ride, depending on how you view the 40-minute ferry trip from Hatteras or the 2-hour ferry trips from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island.

    Bulls Bay redfish don’t shut down during the summer, but you definitley need a strategy when the mercury is rising.

    You remember the week late last July: The temperature along the coast in the Lowcountry climbed toward the 100-degree mark several days in a row.

    When Fred Bricketto of Carolina Backwaters Fishing Charters motored out of the boat basin at Isle of Palms Marina on July 22, heading north up the ICW to Bulls Bay, the radio station said the high that afternoon might reach 102. The only thing that made the sweltering heat bearable was a light wind blowing in off the ocean, just enough to stir the dust and keep the bugs down.

    Georgetown waters hold plenty of tarpon when hot weather arrives.

    As water temperatures rise in the heart of the summer, a mysterious rival surfaces in Georgetown’s inlets, bays and beachfront locales. Tarpon fever sets in and rapidly spreads, pushing silver king groupies into a crazed hunt for one of the top predators of the sea.

    Newbie anglers become immediately hooked when one of these super-sized beasts doubles over one of the heavy rods on the boat’s stern. While Georgetown’s waters have always been a familiar stop along tarpons’ migration route, fishing opportunities today are better than ever, with more and more fish favoring these rich waters.

    Most fishermen approach July as a month when bass are deep, but a Shearon Harris expert knows how to reach out and touch them on top.

    While waiting for a visiting angler, Chili the Wonder Dog took guide Jeff Thomas for a walk around the parking lot at the Merry Oaks boat ramp at Shearon Harris Lake as the sun burned through the daylight fog last July 10.

    It didn’t appear to be a great day for fishing. The temperature had zoomed into the 90s and spent a week there, slowing the bite, so Thomas, a bass pro from nearby Broadway, wanted to get an early start, along with Chili.

    "I’m gonna show you something not a lot of people know who fish Harris know about," Thomas said when his party finally arrived.

    Rivers in Northeastern North Carolina produce great bream fishing for anglers who fish both styles of flies.

    A layer of fog floated above the water, foreshadowing the humidity that sunrise would bring on a July day. Bob Smithwick manuvered between the pilings on the NC 45 bridge, working the throttle and steering levers on his panfish-model Bass Tracker.

    The ramp at the south end of the bridge, which spans three rivers, gave the 77-year-old Smithwick angler access to some of the best and most extensive panfish action found anywhere.

    Dolphin and king mackerel are neighbors this month around nearshore wrecks and reefs off the east side of Cape Fear.