John McDonald Jr. of Woodruff, S.C., killed this huge Spartanburg County buck on Oct. 14.
As he pushed away from the boat ramp at the Dram Tree Park in Wilmington, N.C., Rennie Clark’s plan for a chilly, slightly cloudy fall day, was first to target stripers in the Northeast Cape Fear River, then head to the Cape Fear River for trout and red drum.
The temperature hovered around 25 degrees. As the light began to fade, crystals of frost started to form, and my breath rose into the cold morning air as I surveyed the edge of a field for any movement.
Cool weather and dropping water temperatures are a very good combination for December crappie on South Carolina’s Lake Marion. Anglers with a good game plan find that crappies begin to congregate into tighter areas around deep-water cover and score outstanding catches.
All cylinders fire in the Carolinas when offshore and inshore fisheries take off at the end of fall. Offshore waters are dominated by massive grouper, line-stretching tuna and reel-screaming wahoo; the inshore grounds teem with redfish and the Carolinas’ most-coveted species, the speckled trout.
Gone are the days when catfish were delegated to warm weather and water for consistent fishing. With the introduction of blue catfish into many lakes and rivers in the Carolinas, the cold-weather catfishing game has changed significantly.
John Mallette’s love affair with grouper began when he was a teen on Topsail Island, where his family once owned Ocean City Pier. He took a trip with Joe Hifko, a noted fisherman, and was hooked right away.