During the winter, most of the fishermen who sing the famous line “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” from Sammy Cahn’s classic Christmas song have comfortably shielded themselves from the elements by nestling up to a warm fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate in hand.
Veteran fishermen debate over the best time of year to target blue catfish on the Santee Cooper lakes. Some argue for April, when big blues move shallow to spawn. Others point to June, when blues continually graze on mussel beds. Another argument can be made that February is best, as anglers claim it never gets too cold for blue cats.
It was typical winter morning, with a bite to the breeze that made even weatherworn Capt. David Baxley cinch down his acrylic headgear and pull up the hood of his sweatshirt like a scarf. Launching from a ramp in Surf City was a snap because it was in a protected area, but when Baxley headed south along the Intracoastal Waterway, the wind chilling a forehead brought on a brain freeze as easily as a snow cone during the summer. Hunkering down behind the windshield, he jammed the throttle down even more.
As the end of the season approaches, hunting pressure has taken its toll on deer. Many have been killed and most of the rest educated to typical hunter strategies. Blend in cold and sometimes nasty weather, and hunting effort dwindles. Plus, small-game hunting enters the picture, and instead of having to sit still in the cold weather, small-game hunters typically can stay on the move and keep warm much easier.
It happens to every fisherman at sometime or another. A sick feeling in the pit of a stomach for some, panic for others, and even anger for a select few souls. Yep, the sight of someone anchored up in your favorite spot can cause quite an internal stir, and when it is followed up by someone anchored up on your second favorite fishing spot....
The urge to look up was overwhelming, especially for the youngsters crouched in the small drainage ditch separating two wheat fields near Pungo Lake and the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge in Washington County. The whistling honk of tundra swans filled the air as flocks of the large, white birds circled the area deciding which field looked better for breakfast.
As fall settles in along North Carolina’s coast, locals don’t fret over the end of summer. The last months of the year mean several things: smaller crowds, cooler temperatures and the best speckled trout fishing of the year.
The winter months, particularly December through February, are best times to pursue striped bass in large impoundments across North Carolina, and High Rock Lake on the Yadkin River south of Lexington has consistently been a top producer.
Rockingham County has become North Carolina's No. 1 destination for trophy bucks in recent years, as this 10-pointer killed by Eric League illustrates.