• April 2013 - Volume 8, Number 4


    The action can be great and your cooler full if you follow tips from these dolphin-catching experts.

    If you’re ready for a real blast of spring in South Carolina, look no further than the offshore opportunities for catching dolphin this month. These ravenous eating machines literally explode on lures being trolled at or just below the ocean’s surface, and are one of the most-popular and frequently caught bluewater species.

    Dolphin, aka mahimahi, have many qualities that make it a favorite among saltwater fishermen, including remarkable abundance, bullish fighting, spectacular jumps, astonishing growth, striking beauty and outstanding table fare. With liberal creel limits, dolphin can be caught in big numbers and in exciting fast-paced action.

    Big push inshore from wintering flounder fills smallish, shallow estuary.

    Within feet of the state line, the northern end of the Grand Strand harbors a unique estuary with local and worldly significance. On a grand scale, Walter Maxwell’s 1,780-pound tiger shark — caught from a Cherry Grove pier in 1964 — remains untouched after almost 50 years, and is the only all-tackle world record from South Carolina waters. But light-tackle anglers recognize this area for an entirely different reason as April arrives. The two-lane boat ramp on the north end of 53rd Avenue in Cherry Grove gets more than its fair share of traffic, and for good reason. April means flounder around these parts, as Cherry Grove’s pocket-sized estuary fills up with hungry flounder moving in from the ocean through Hog Inlet when the rest of the region’s fishing barometer remains cold.

    Use larger, more colorful baits or lures if you’re targeting white crappie on Lake Marion.

    To much of the angling world, a crappie is a crappie. They’re found in most every small lake or large impoundment; they spawn in the spring when the dogwoods bloom; you can catch them on either minnows or small jigs.

    Most important, they are delicious when deep fried in peanut oil — which, more than any other factor, probably accounts for their widespread popularity.

    The explosion in kayak fishing has put more anglers on the water. Here are some suggestions for your first paddle boat.

    You’ve likely noticed that there is a surge in kayak fishing.

    You see them being pulled or carried down the highway. You see them at the boat ramps. And you’ll likely see them in some of your favorite fishing spots — even offshore.

    The explosion in kayak fishing has put more anglers on the water. Here are some suggestions for your first paddle boat.

    You’ve likely noticed that there is a surge in kayak fishing.

    You see them being pulled or carried down the highway. You see them at the boat ramps. And you’ll likely see them in some of your favorite fishing spots — even offshore.

    The proper use of decoys can give North Carolina turkey hunters a big edge, while incorrect use can doom them to blank tags.

    As April arrives, North Carolina’s woods will once again fill at the crack of dawn with mysterious silhouettes enshrouded with leafy, covert attire. Success will follow for many, with tags filled on the opening day — even the opening hour — of spring turkey season.

    Yet many tom turkeys follow a different path, evading even the most-seasoned fanatic hunters. From a vast collection of cackles, purrs, clucks and yelps, wild gobblers must sift through the sweet talk to make it out alive. And the dozens of life-like decoys on the market make it even more challenging for a longbeard to make it to his next birthday.

    Hunters using decoys can quickly simplify their hunt drawing their quarry into range with little effort. Nevertheless, hunters must adopt a winning decoy strategy to get that trophy bird within range.

    The prespawn can be maddening, as cold fronts roll through and impact the bass bite. Here are some tips from the pros to help fill out your stringer, even when things get tough.

    Pickles and ice cream, donuts with lots of sprinkles, Cheese Whiz and anything with chocolate - pregnancy cravings are a fact of life, for a soon-to-be mom eating for two (or more).

    Expectant bass might not crave anything odd, but they're all about packing their bellies for their forthcoming spawn. Learn where and how to locate these fish and you can, ahem, "expect" your own delivery of rod-bending fun.

    First, consider the basics of where they'll spawn. Creeks, coves, backwater canals. Pretty much any shallow habitat with good sunlight and some type of cover will do.

    Unique habitat, smart birds add up to an interesting battle between hunters and gobblers.

    Perhaps nowhere in North Carolina have wild turkeys fared better than the state’s northeastern quadrant.

    For years, the counties along the Roanoke River drainage — Bertie, Halifax, Martin and Northampton — have been among leaders in turkey harvests.

    The region, including private and public land, features several advantages for the birds, not the least of which is relatively few human occupants. Also, many residents are farmers who cultivate large fields that grow agricultural crops and provide food for turkeys. Swampy habitats around fields also offer safe roosting and escape areas, but perhaps most important, landowners have protected the birds.

    All types of cover and structure will hold spring bass on Lake Wateree in April.

    April and shallow-water bass form a strong bond with fishermen. It is that time of year when bass are roaming the shallows and the water is warm enough for an aggressive bite.

    This month brings hordes of anglers to lakes throughout South Carolina, and as far as shallow-water fishing, Lake Wateree ranks very high.

    Wateree is considered by many to be an ideal spring reservoir. There’s an abundance of shallow cover to congregate bass: weeds, brush, stumps, logs, docks and rocky shorelines. There’s also an abundance of shallow flats, drops, ledges, humps and points at a wide variety of depths that hold fish. Whatever migration stage the bass are in, there is ample identifiable structure to fish.

    Troll spoons or diving baits to limit out on big spring Spanish macks.

    One of the regular oddities of the Cape Fear coast is a spring run of large Spanish mackerel along rocks just off the beach a few miles north of Cape Fear and the mouth of the Cape Fear River. While they occasionally show up around other bottom structure in the area in the same general time frame, the focal point is a rock outcropping off Fort Fisher. Sheepshead Rock, as it is shown on most charts, lies in approximately 25 feet of water just offshore of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, but it has one peak that rises to within 10 feet of the surface.

    Wilmington’s Sutton Lake provides bass fishermen with unusual action.

    When the historic port city of Wilmington shows up on most anglers’ radar, the bountiful inshore and offshore fisheries quickly come to mind. But a sensational freshwater fishery flourishes just minutes from the salt and the bustling city.

    Sutton Lake, an 1,100-acre reservoir situated adjacent to the banks of the Cape Fear River, is home to one of the hottest largemouth bass fisheries North Carolina has to offer.

    And hot it is!

    Use terrain to your advantage, call softly and let that big longbeard wander into range.

    The beams from my headlights swung around, illuminating our designated parking place along the side of a gravel road that provides access to thousands of acres of public land in South Carolina's Upstate. Shifting into park, we got out and eased in the predawn morning, readying our gear, then making our way up the mountain to find the old logging road that meandered along the ridge top.

    We found our position on the crest of the mountain as the sky began to brighten. Not another soul was around, and we could barely contain our excitement as we listened to the morning awakening.

    Tributaries to Onslow County’s New River hold some of North Carolina’s biggest speckled trout. Here’s how to catch them.

    Guide Ricky Kellum of Jacksonville laughs when he recalls certain phone calls he receives each spring.

    "Some people ask me, 'When will the 10-pounders start biting?'" Kellum said, chuckling.

    The "10-pounders" anglers want information about are New River spotted seatrout.

    It's time for big speckled trout in New River, while across North Carolina it's turkey time for hunters