• April 2016 - Volume 23, Number 4


    North Carolina’s statewide flock and annual turkey harvests are still rising, but is the high-water mark at hand? This season might be the best for a while.

    Hunters may remember with satisfaction the spring of 2016 because turkey season might wind up being one of the best in North Carolina history.

    Don’t worry about targeting spawners; you can have great days in April catching Shearon Harris Lake’s bass coming and going from bedding areas.

    As April arrives at Shearon Harris Lake, one thing is for certain: the spawn is irrefutable. Waves of buck bass and fat females will be hitting the banks and preparing beds, eager to deposit the eggs they’ve carried through the winter before retreating to make room for another group. Although it’s a staple of many fisherman to sight-cast to shallow, bedding bass, two top-notch anglers often catch their biggest fish of the year by targeting bass that most boats are sitting on top of.

    Call them Mahi Mahi, dorado or dolphin. They’re not porpoises, but they perform so many tricks, a trip offshore this month could be more fun than a day at Sea World.

    Few fish create the dreams of the everyday offshore angler the way dolphin do. Old salts wax poetic about marlin and tuna and sailfish, but Senior Dorado, he’s everyman’s fish. From 70-foot sport yachts to dual-outboard, trailered boats, the dolphin is more than a worthy opponent on the line and a blessing at the table.

    Target Keowee’s spots, largemouths with different tactics as the spawn approaches.

    Lake Keowee. The name brings joy to the heart of some anglers and tears to the eyes of others. For bass fishermen, it can be a mix of both — on the same day, maybe even just an hour or even a few casts apart.

    It takes special tactics to draw a strike from a spawning bass. One Lake Norman pro shares his know-how.

    Anglers see it, bass feel it and nature signals the change. The sun and warmer temperatures are here, and that means bass are headed to the bank to commence the yearly spawn. Not every bass in a given lake decides to make the move at the same time, but instead, waves of bass will flood the shallows looking to make a bed and begin spawning.

    Be patient, be persistent and be a whole lot of things that spell doom for turkeys.

    Turkey hunting is a character-building sport where creativity and adaptation in the heat of battle determine success or failure or any given hunt. If a hunter adapts successfully, a gobbler may be tagged. If wrong decisions are made, the less-desirable outcome prevails and character building continues. 

    The annual spawning run of striped bass up the Roanoke River is in full swing this month. Here’s how to show up and have plenty of fun.

    Striped bass are one of the success stories of fishery management, and their spring spawning run up the Roanoke River is the jewel in North Carolina’s crown. 

    The village of Hatteras is the jumping-off spot for great bluewater fishing that cranks up in April.

    The first bluewater fish to arrive off the Outer Banks each year are tuna, and their names include a small variety of colors. Bluefin have become regular visitors in March, staying until the water begins warming in April. Pods of blackfin pass through in winter, but the schools get larger and hungrier as spring arrives. They are joined by a few yellowfin and occasional bigeye tuna in late March and early April, and the fishing continues to improve. 

    With the spawn at hand, it helps to know when and where to find crappie that are heading to their beds.

    Spring has arrived, and across the south, April is many things to many people, especially when it comes to enjoying blooming trees, shrubs and azaleas, plus South Carolina’s outdoor treasures. For anglers headed to the Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, the migration of big crappie into shallow waters takes precedences over everything else. It’s time to slay Santee Cooper slabs.

    The lower Saluda River around Columbia offers April anglers with tremendous opportunities to catch trout and striped bass in places many would not expect to find them.

    Rather than packing the truck and making a long drive to the Upstate, the lower Saluda River offers trout fishermen a unique opportunity in the Midlands. Stocked during the winter by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, the lower Saluda in and around Columbia is filled with quality browns and rainbows.  

    Fishing on Lake Waccamaw hits its peak with largemouth bass head to the shoreline this month.

    Forget what you know about early spring bass fishing in North Carolina. Lake Waccamaw is different. Broad and shallow, Lake Waccamaw is a natural lake in rural Columbus County, and it affords anglers some unique opportunities not available on man-made lakes across the Tarheel State.

    Gobblers that have heard a lot of calls don’t come running the first time you help. Here are some tips for putting the moves on a bird that’s been heavily hunted.

    As the morning began to brighten, the sounds of a new day started to emerge. Crickets faded into chirps from chickadees. Courting frogs merged into the wakening call of the Carolina wren. Charles Hudson and I stood near a giant oak bordering a beaver swamp, listening, when a distant gobble got our attention. 

    Three top turkey hunters provide their North Carolina brethren with some special tips.

    Turkey hunters like to think they know what they’re doing, but is such always the case? To answer that question, as well as five others, a handful of North Carolina’s best turkey hunters spoke on the subject.

    Turkey season is reaching its peak across South Carolina, and a lot of the easy birds have already been killed. So learn how to score a tough late-season tom.