• August 2016 - Volume 11, Number 8


    Barring another historic rain event, South Carolina deer hunters should expect a good deer season this fall, especially for big bucks.

    August is “go time” for deer hunters in South Carolina, and most are making final preparations for the 2016 season opener. Opening day redefines the phrase “go time” because hunters seeking unpressured deer have more than ample opportunities.

    Feisty, powerful and tasty, it’s hard to beat a spadefish for summer fishing fun.

    Guide Robert McCarley of Georgetown’s Reel Tight Charters hit the water on a crystal-clear, summer morning, making a short jog to an area where he quickly collected a tub of finger-size mullet and a couple dozen jellyball jellyfish, the latter being a favorite food of spadefish, both of which show up as the water temperature climbs in the summer.

    Fishing at this Saluda River reservoir can be excellent for anglers willing to brave the heat for some big bass — shallow and deep.

    Many of the die-hard bass fishermen who call Lake Greenwood home or rank it among their top lakes would likely classify August as their least-favorite month to fish. It’s hot, and the recreational boat traffic reaches a crescendo in the last month of summer vacation.

    Creeks, waterway, inlets in southern Brunswick County are ground zero for flounder action in steamy weather.

    After a short run up the Intracoastal Waterway in lower Brunswick County, Greg Holmes banked his flats boat into one of the many small creeks. Clearing the shoal at the mouth, he chopped the throttle, turned off the outboard and stepped forward to lower the trolling motor. In a couple of minutes, he had the boat positioned and dropped his Cajun Anchor to hold the boat in place.

    Edisto anglers have almost a sure thing this month catching sharks, large and small. The action’s so good you’ll forget it’s dog days.

    Hearing the word “Shark!” screamed may strike fear into the hearts of Lowcountry swimmers, but it is music to the ears of their angling counterparts, especially this time of year when the heat has slowed a lot of fishing action for many species.

    Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters loves to pursue sharks off Edisto Island in the dog days of summer, with blacktips and bonnetheads prime targets in August. The action is often fast and predictable, and it results in some sizable catches.

    Different bass-fishing situations call for different kinds of fishing line. Know which ones fit where.

    Monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided line — options are numerous, and while certain fundamentals definitely guide the decisions; there’s plenty of room for creativity and situation-specific uses. Maybe you’re trying to make a lure do something or not do something; perhaps, the habitat you’re fishing presents a concentrated set of considerations. In any case, understand that line choice can greatly impact your productivity.

    North Carolina’s deer herd appears stable, with big gains in the mountains, but what does the future hold, especially with coyotes on the scene?

    The 2015 statewide harvest of 162,588 whitetail deer was the eighth-highest in North Carolina history, and that should be good news for this fall’s season. 

    “The harvest seems to be holding fairly steady, except for some circumstances when the herd can be affected by a variety of events,” said Jonathan Shaw, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s supervising deer biologist. “I don’t know whether or not it will go higher or lower. If we continue to harvest deer at same rate and put (more) coyotes on the landscape, (that) may start to show up (negatively).”

    The upside of fishing for bass on North Carolina’s Neuse River comes when the water is low and falling.

    The water gauge on the US 70 bridge over the Neuse River in Kinston ends about a foot below the guardrail. Just above that 27-foot mark, someone painted a vertical arrow and one word: “Floyd.”

    Eastern North Carolina’s most-destructive hurricane submerged the bridge when it spread flood waters across hundreds of square miles, causing 57 fatalities and $6.9 billion in property damage. Those figures from 1987 didn’t include the destruction of natural resources, especially to the Neuse’s bass population.

    Lake Gaston on the North Carolina/Virginia border has established itself as heaven for blue catfish and the antlers who target them. The peak of summer heat presents plenty of opportunities if you know where to find them.

    Zakk Royce became a household name in the fishing community this past December when he broke North Carolina’s state record for blue catfish, not once, but twice in a period of less than 24 hours at Lake Gaston — first with a 91-pound fish and then a 105-pounder he connected with soon after shuttling the first fish back to its original location to be released.  

    The areas inshore of Hatteras and Ocracoke inlets fill up with some hefty red drum this month as fish begin to move back toward the ocean.

    The mouth of the Neuse River and the western Pamlico Sound aren’t the only places to hook into a trophy red drum this month. Massive schools of the bronzed beasts still haunt Hatteras and Ocracoke Inlets, where they entered the estuary last spring after a long winter at sea. 

    While the western side of Pamlico Sound has gained notoriety for the size of the gathering, the clear waters of the Outer Banks grant a special opportunity to anglers: sight-casting to schools of mature reds that number in the hundreds.  

    North Carolina anglers have a short window to target tarpon, and that window is about to open.

    Fishing spans every type of environment imaginable, with thousands of species to target. For some, all it takes is a fresh cricket or shiny lure to produce a tug on the end of the line, but some species require much more. 

    In freshwater, the muskellunge ranks at the top of the list for sparse hookup opportunities, being known as the “fish of 10,000 casts.” In North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound and its tributaries, the tarpon occupies that saltwater niche, with only a few hundred fish winding up with a sore mouth annually.

    North Carolina has more than 4,000 miles of streams holding wild, native trout waiting to sample your fly collection.

    For most residents of North Carolina, the summer’s heat and humidity are givens. Fishing one of the state’s trout steams designed as “wild trout” is a great way to make an end run around the elements.

    Jake Rash, a biologist at the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission’s hatchery at Marion, said that of the 5,300 miles of public trout waters within the state’s boundaries, around 4,300 are designated as wild-trout waters. For the most part, these streams are in high country, cooler than places most of us live.

    Bulls Bay is a great place to target the underappreciated tripletails, floating, sight-fishing battlers who will gobble down just about anything that drifts past their noses.

    Whether cooling off in the Atlantic or basking under the sun, South Carolina’s coastline creates a perfect getaway to escape the daily grind. For fisherman, there is nothing better than a trip to relieve stress and bring a few fish back home for dinner,. and for anglers looking for a new challenge who can safely navigate the Bulls Bay’s waters, the tripletail is the perfect rival. 

    North Carolina hunters can look for the same kind of deer hunting they've had the past several seasons, thanks to a stable statewide deer herd.