Fishing has been very good, but conditions are cool and wet. Another warming trend should really stimulate the bite.
We went a few days ago on the North Mills River and had fun, but the poachers have really worked on this stream. We caught a few and one nice rainbow.
Water temperature was 50 degrees, which is ideal for trout.
Next trip will be the East Fork Broad. It is also a delayed harvest stream.
Andy Stevenson and his 15-year-old son Mac had a successful hunt recently on their farm. It is a unique habitat that features a Carolina Bay. These bays are thought to have been formed by asteroids thousands of years ago. They have some unique plant and animal species that are rare.
Stevenson is the rising president of South Carolina Ducks Unlimited.
They killed mallards, wood ducks and Mac killed a nice black duck.
Ken Lundin was successful the third time that he spotted this nice buck in Oconee County on Nov. 23. He was hunting in the same general area each time and had shot at the deer, but made a clean miss on the second sighting.
The third time was a charm. Lundin shot once as the big buck was trailing a doe. He was about 50 yards away and he took him with one shot from his .30/30 with a 150 grain slug at 50 yards.
Recent trout fishing trips have been cold weather affairs. My friend Gene Cunningham and I went recently and the water was low, clear and 36 degrees F. Fishing was slow, but we caught and released fish on nymphs and I had 17' and a 15' rainbows along with a few smaller. It was all visual, since the strikes were so subtle. It required setting the hook when you could see the mouth open and the gills flare. The takes were so gentle, the leader would never indicate a take.
Air temp. was low forties and overcast, so after a few hours we felt like zombies, but it was a great trip.
Since this trip, water conditions have improved and temperatures are higher. I can't wait to get back in the stream again.
Do you think pellet guns are only for kids? Not any more! It is amazing the accuracy of a good pellet gun and the wallop that a small pellet packs.
I recently received an RWS .177 caliber pellet gun and have been well pleased with it. It has a 4 power scope on it and I have sighted it in at 25 yards. It is extremely accurate at 25-30 yards. After that, it begins to lose velocity and shocking power.
This little gun will kill a squirrel easily at 25-30 yards, but shot placement is very critical. If a rest is available, use it.
This gun has a break action barrel (single shot). It is essential when hunting squirrels to make the first shot count since loading requires looking down and inserting the next pellet. That means taking your eye off the squirrel and may allow it to escape.
If you have a close area where you need to hunt with a relatively short range and quiet gun, this is the ticket.
This gun shoots a pellet at 1,000 fps, and some of the models now shoot pellets at up to 1,300 fps.
Don't expect to be able to use flat nosed pellets and pointed nose pellets interchangeably. They will shoot to a different point of impact. Choose the one that shoots best in your gun and stick with it. You must be comfortable with where your gun shoots and be able to shoot it consistently.
If you haven't shot a pellet gun, try it. It's a real hoot, and yes, it will kill squirrels. They are tough little critters, but if you do your part, the pellet gun will prove to be an enjoyable additional to your gun rack.
L. Woodrow Ross
On Wednesday, January 2, I was hunting alone at Lake Cunningham WMA which is only open on Wed. a.m. for hunting. It was cold for our area in Greenville County at 18 degrees and about an inch of snow was on the ground.
I paddled up the lake to the hunting area and pushed the kayak into the undergrowth and moved into some cattails for cover. Shooting time was 7:04 and just after that two mallards dropped in and I killed the drake.
I only had one other shot at a passing wood duck, but missed.
It was not an extraordinary hunt except the mallard had a band. When I called in the details later that day, a lady told me that the drake was banded at a place called Alabama, New York in 2003. I found that very interesting when considering the hunting the duck has been exposed to and survived this long.
This is only the second banded duck that I have killed and I was delighted to do so on this hunt.
I saw some flights of canada geese, but none came close enough for a shot.
It was a good day.
L. Woodrow Ross
www.lwoodrowross.com and www.flyfishnorthamerica.com
Gun season for deer has been open for a while now, but don't put up the bow. Hunt those 'tight' places where shots will be close with your bow.
I just had a disaster with my compound. The limbs developed hairline cracks and I called Browning about my warranty. The bow that had was discontinued, but they are sending me a comparable new bow. That speaks well of their customer service.
In the meantime, I purchased a blank from Rudderbow and finished a 68' longbow made of hickory and faced with bamboo. I have tweaked the grip and the arrow shelf, but now it is shooting great and I am having a ball with it.
If you haven't tried primitive archery, give it a try. It is really neat.
Get out there and shoot some arrows! Good luck.
Fished twice in November on the Chattooga River delayed harvest section. Guided a new fly fisherman one week-end and he caught his first trout. His best was between 13' and 14' long. He hooked and lost a nice rainbow that looked to be between 16 and 18'. Needless to say, he is hooked on fly fishing.
Second trip, I went alone and caught and released about 16 rainbows from 10' to 15'. It was a great day, even though the water was 43 degrees, very low due to drought and clear.
There has been some reduced stocking due to the low water conditions, but the fishing is good for those willing to work for it.
Get out there and enjoy it!