• February 2017 - Volume 24, Number 2


    Hunters across the Carolinas ran into plenty of trophy whitetails during the season that ended a month ago. Here are some of their stories — and lots of their photos.

    It didn’t take deer hunters in North Carolina and South Carolina very long to make their marks this past fall. Even with a big crop of acorns on the ground in many places — usually a harbinger of a tough whitetail season — a lot of big bucks began falling in September, and they never quit.

    Some big, big bucks.

    Take advantage of federal efforts to thin the burgeoning population of snow geese.

    When the talk turns to snow geese, most North Carolina hunters immediately think about a long trip to the great plains of North Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, Manitoba or any of the other states and provinces along the central flyway.  

    Know where to look and how to fish live baits, and Lake Murray’s winter stripers may become your favorite targets.

    Most people would consider a cold, dreary day in February a terrible time to be outside, much less on the water fishing. But that sentiment doesn’t hold true for Mike Gault of Jonesville, S.C. A retired game warden, he looks forward to the nastiest days of the year so he can head to South Carolina’s Lake Murray and drag live baits behind the boat for striped bass.

    February might be cold, but spring is just around the corner, and Lake Tillery crappie know it’s time to head to their prespawn staging areas.

    Under normal circumstances, February is likely to remain a relatively cold, winter month, with only premonitions of spring peeking through its icy exterior. But those subtle differences will be the only prompting necessary to nudge crappie into feeding position for the prespawn stages, especially at Lake Tillery, which is northeast of Charlotte, N.C. on the Yadkin-Pee Dee River system.

    The drop-shot rig, tied for either soft-plastic lures or live bait, is a precise presentation that catches bass in cold water across the Carolinas.

    The air is biting cold, and the sky is the purest shade of blue. Glenn Grindstaff of Marion, N.C., is huddled inside his thick coat. The hood is pulled well past the top of his head. The outboard chugs along at idle speed as he steers his boat across sharp-breaking points, along channel-swing banks and over deep-water flats. All the while, he’s intently watching the fish finder mounted above the helm. He can picture what he wants to see.

    Crappie will begin their long migration to Clarks Hill Lake’s shallows this month; here’s how to keep them from getting there.

    Although he lives just a hop, skip and jump from Lake Greenwood, when winter begins to wane, Rod Wall of Ninety Six much prefers to make the hour-long drive southwest to fish on his favorite crappie lake: Clarks Hill.

    Man-made marinas and canals along the North Carolina/South Carolina state line will hold plenty of winter speckled trout.

    By February, Old Man Winter is making his mark on the Carolinas, and one great thing about living along the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina is the predictable, pleasant days. Sure, the temperatures can drop into the 20s with an occasional snow flurry, but anglers can expect a quick turnaround, with 60-degree weather just around the corner. And the best part is the winter fishing for speckled trout. 

    Aluminum boats have come a long way in a short period of time. Fishermen are flocking to them as features are added.

    Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part Sportsman Boat Showcase. Click here to read Part I on 2017’s Top Fiberglass Boats.

    Aluminum boats are often described with these terms: utilitarian, practical, serviceable, functional and no-frills. In actuality, aluminum boat are all that and more; so much more.

    Aluminum boats are built for every purpose, from work boats, to dressed-out fishing boats and even luxury yachts. The john boats that come to mind when many folks think about aluminum are an important segment of the market, but they’re not the only aluminum boat design. Nope, not by a long shot.  

    Winter trout are waiting, and if you know how to catch them you can tag a lunker like this 10-pound, 2-ounce pig caught by guide Justin Carter in Wando River near his home base of Charleston, S.C.