• May 2015 - Volume 22, Number 5


    Don’t let the last hours of spring turkey season tick away without using some new tricks

    One May morning a few years ago, I sat in heavy cover beside a small, weed-filled Orange County field. My heart thumped in my chest like a bass drum.

    Speckled trout are on the rebound, flounder on the slide; most other species fall somewhere in the middle.

    It’s a mixed bag of good news and bad news for fishermen who target various species in North Carolina’s coastal waters.

    This season could harbor some better results for anglers who target speckled trout and black sea bass, good seasons for Spanish mackerel and red drum, and maybe not as good fishing for flounder, striped bass and gray trout.’

    Jutting into the ocean, close to the Gulf Stream, Cape Hatteras offers bluewater fishermen a unique opportunity this month.

    Cape Hatteras has gained the reputation as the billfish capital of the east coast, largely because it juts far enough into the Atlantic Ocean that the Gulf Stream passes by not too many miles offshore, bringing with it loads of blue and white marlin, spearfish, swordfish and sailfish. 

    Boat docks and brush piles will hold a lot of postspawn crappie at Kerr Lake this month.

    May is largely a transition month for crappie across North Carolina, and Kerr Lake, aka Buggs Island, is no different.  Nearly all crappie have completed the spawn on the 49,500-acre reservoir that straddles the North Carolina-Virginia border are in some stage of moving from their shallow spawning grounds back to deeper water. 

    Frog lures will pull bass up through the heavy vegetation and cover that develops as the weather heats up.

    Bass fishing is hot this month across North Carolina, but with the hot fishing comes hot weather, and that brings one of an angler’s biggest foes — the growth of surface weeds that can foul all types of fishing lures. This makes some bodies of water virtually unfishable for many anglers, but those who use the right lure can have a field day.

    The smaller, the better. That’s how some trout fishermen look at North Carolina’s backcountry mountain streams.

    Western North Carolina contains some of the most remote places east of the Mississippi River, with absolutely breathtaking views from every angle. The mountains are full of steep ridges, deep canyons and are covered in century-old forests, a true wilderness. 

    Live bait, artificials and even flies will draw strikes from a hungry cobia.

    Cobia. Just the mention of the great gamefish gets many anglers excited, even more so after the winter has given way to spring, especially in the Lowcountry. 

    Spotted bass have taken over Lake Russell’s bass fishery, and in May, that’s not a bad thing.

    Lake Richard B. Russell has changed dramatically in terms of black bass fishing since its impoundment in 1984. When it first filled up, the lake was great for largemouth bass and had the shallow-water cover for largemouth bass fishing to explode, as well as deep cover to perpetuate the fishery.

    Live blueback herring are a big meal for hungry hybrid bass on Clarks Hill Lake.

    Most anglers, Brad Sasser included, go about fishing for striped bass and hybrid bass the same way. It’s sort of like cousins and half-cousins hanging out together; they live in the same neighborhood, grow up together and get along well, even though they may both share the same parental lineage.

    Find a school of hungry stripers, stay on them, and you can have some of the season’s most-exciting action.

    “Here they come.” 

    Those were the only words the anglers aboard Truman Lyon’s boat needed to hear. The 83-year-old striper guide watched as his graph depicted several fish leaving a mass of stripers clustered near the bottom of Lake Moultrie, moving higher in the water column. His vast experience told him this meant rod-bending action was mere moments away.

    Keep a handful of rods ready whenever you find a big school of baitfish; hungry cobia will be nearby.

    As the spring peaks in the Palmetto State, fishermen looking for an opponent built for pure power and brute force won’t have to venture far past the jetties at Murrells Inlet. Early this month, cobia will arrive just off the sandy shores, and they won’t be little ones looking for a safe haven. 

    Side-scan sonar technology has made it easier to find cobia. Making them bite is another problem, however.

    A clear sky and a calm wind beckoned as Mike Taylor loaded his boat at a private dock in Morehead City for a day on the water. He was especially happy because there had been no pre-dawn alarm, and even the sun appeared to be smiling. Because of the fish he had chosen to target, being on the water before daylight wasn’t essential.

    May is the month when redfish start hitting topwater baits in the waters around Charleston.

    Kevin Blair fishes the waters around Charleston about 200 days a year, but his favorite days are in May when he can catch redfish on topwater baits.

    Cobia invade nearshore reefs along the Grand Strand and Lowcountry bays this month, while hybrid bass are on fire at Clarks Hill Lake.