After a battle with largemouth bass virus that infected about 40 percent of its population before running its course, John H. Kerr Reservoir’s largemouth bass have recovered, as fishermen discovered the past couple of years. And while the spawn ends for most North Carolina chub chasers on most lakes by the end of April, there’s still plenty of reason to visit John H. Kerr Reservoir, aka Buggs Island, in May.
“Watch my cork this time,” Josh Devlin said as he threaded a fresh cricket onto a small hook while fishing on the Little Pee Dee River.
Devlin, who hails from Florence, lobbed out an easy catch with his ultralight spinning outfit, smiling from ear to ear with anticipation. The cork hit the water, and without so much as a hesitation on the surface, it went straight under as though it was a weight instead of a float. The bream bite was hot.
Hidden in North Carolina’s coastal plain, Contentnea Creek is unknown to most fishermen, but locals know it well and consider it a treasure. After all, the name Contentnea is derived from a Native American phrase meaning “fish passing by.”
April showers may bring May flowers, but too much rain means muddy water, and South Carolina has had more than its muddy water over the past year. That’s just one reason that inshore fishermen in the Charleston area are dreaming of settled, stable weather on the horizon.
It’s a warm, early morning in the middle of spring, with a slight breeze out of the southwest. Stephen Hunter keeps his Cape Horn center console in Holden Beach, but he often chooses to use the Cape Fear River channel when leaving before dawn, for no other reason than the reliability of its water. Picking his way behind Oak Island and Southport, he makes a starboard turn into the channel, slips into the ocean, then pushes the throttle down and heads offshore.
One of the two gobblers that had been responding to Karl Helmkamp’s calls since daylight had gone silent for a while, presumably paired up with a hen, but the other kept gobbling even when he switched tactics and only answered its calls.
Having turkey season extend into May offers some late-season opportunities for turkey hunters in the Palmetto State, but how much will hunters take advantage of it? Hunter numbers seem to dwindle late in the season, based on the absence of vehicles parked at gates and along roads in areas with good turkey habitat. Places that were packed in late March and the first half of April often become increasingly hunter-free by late in the season.
The Lumber River forms the boundary between Robeson and Columbus counties and cuts across the North Carolina-South Carolina border. While geographically important, the true value of the river is that it is the lifeblood of local anglers because its floodplain creates habitats that support many fish species.
Shellcracker spawning time in Lake Marion depends on water temperature and other physical factors, but anglers can gauge the peak bedding season by the myriad of boat trailers lining roads leading to launching ramps. Long walks are expected, even welcomed by many, because it means shellcrackers are bedding.
Panfish of various species are among the most-common fish found throughout South Carolina’s rivers, and for many anglers, one is held in the highest regard. The redbreast sunfish is a hearty fighter and so brightly colored that its name leaves no one wondering where it came from.
Wrightsville Beach may be known as a world-class surfing destination or as the most socially accepted stretch of white sand along the entire east coast. But for anglers ready to tame a world-class fish, the crystal blue waters along these stunning shorelines are just what the doctor ordered, and there’s no better time than this month, when the annual cobia run begins. Massive, breeder cobia snuggle along the coastline, famished and ready to fill up the tank on anything they can find.
Bream season is here, and there’s no limit to the options. So get on the water and fill a stringer.