Back when North Carolina was moving wild turkeys all around the state and in from other states, some of the last counties to get imported gobblers and hens were those in the coastal plain. They were considered to have the least turkey-friendly habitat across the state, well behind the Piedmont, the mountains and counties along the Roanoke River.
Mention the Dan River, and most residents of North Carolina immediately think of Duke Energy’s coal-ash spill near Eden in February 2014. That accidental discharge into the river made and continues to make headlines, and because of the dangerous elements and compounds that wound up in the Dan, many people believe the entire river is contaminated.
Hunt turkeys long enough, and every hunter will learn that some gobblers are just more difficult to kill than others. A few years of experience usually enables hunters to call reasonably well and have a suitable sense of woodsmanship. Many take gobblers with reasonable regularity.
Mack Farr scratches his head when he talks about Lake Hartwell’s great striped bass fishing. A well-known guide who lives in Buford, Ga., Farr spends most of the spring fishing Hartwell, an hour or so up I-85 from his normal home waters of Lake Lanier.
In North Carolina, the Uwharrie River flows through an ancient mountain range that offers a modern challenge for turkey hunters. Between the urban sprawl of Charlotte and the Piedmont Triad, hunters escape to rolling woodlands of the 51,551-acre Uwharrie National Forest and the surrounding farm lands and forest. Once here, they can test their skills against a worthy game bird.
Fishermen come from all over to visit the Santee Cooper lakes every year, many to target the great numbers of catfish and the possibility of catching a trophy. And with fish shallow and spawning, spring is a perfect storm for the jumbo whisker lover.
The Albemarle Sound is one of the two largest estuaries in the North Carolina and is home to a world-renowned population of striped bass, which receive most of the attention given to the sound’s fishery.
As March rolls into April, changes begin in the inshore waters of South Carolina that bring a smile to the faces of fishermen. Shrimp, menhaden and yearling fry begin showing up in creeks, and speckled trout become more active and feed more aggressively.
We sat spellbound as the late Jack Lombard of Mountain Rest talked about the birth of modern turkey hunting in South Carolina. He spoke softly, without pretense. At 86, a few months before he passed away, he had nothing to prove. The competitive ways of youth were long behind him. His eyes had a faraway look as his thoughts went to a life filled with turkey hunting success.
Capt. Joe Ward of Pollocksville has a special relationship with the Neuse River and the creeks that flow into it. He has been fishing the area since childhood, and during a long career in civil service at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, he often towed his boat to work to get in a few hours of fishing in the afternoon. He knows most of the holes and flats in the creeks around Cherry Point and has a good understanding of when fish should be in what areas.
Spring saltwater fishing along North Carolina’s southeastern coast begins in April when the water temperature warms enough to draw Spanish mackerel up from Florida where they spend the winter. It also helps that the baitfish that headline their menu also return.