• Volume 19 Number 7 - July 2012


    Underutilized and underrated, convict fish can make for some sweet seafood dinners. Here’s how to put them in your corral.

    While easing across the no-wake zone at the State Ports in Morehead City, Matt Lamb was paying a lot of attention to just how the tide was moving and how strong it was flowing. He had several buckets of fiddler crabs and sea urchins, and the gameplan was to invite some tasty sheepshead home for dinner. The velocity and direction of the tide would determine exactly where the day would begin and how it would progress.

    Lamb, who owns and operates Chasin’ Tails Outdoors on the Atlantic Beach causeway and guides whenever he isn’t in the shop or fishing a redfish tournament, said sheepshead fishing in the Morehead City and Atlantic Beach area is underrated and underutilized. He has found good numbers of these fish wearing the convict stripes, and there are still many areas he hasn’t explored that he feels would be productive.

    Wrightsville Beach is jumping-off point for great nearshore action on king mackerel, dolphin.

    The huddle at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s boating-access area at Wrightsville Beach took place before dawn — while there were still enough parking spaces for vehicles. One of the busiest ramps on the coast on weekends, it serves a heavily populated area and is the jumping-off point for some of the best nearshore saltwater combo fishing anywhere.

    Capt. Jim Sabella of Plan 9 Fishing Charters fired the engine on his center console to head out of Masonboro Inlet, the epicenter of king mackerel tournament fishing, but in the heat of the summer, also home to schools of burnt bronze dolphin, aka mahi mahi.

    North Carolina’s newest lake is still hot in sizzling weather.

    When Randleman Regional Reservoir — popularly known as Randleman Dam Lake — opened its gates for the first time at 8 o’clock one morning in March 2010, anglers towing bass boats were ready to go. In fact they’d been ready to go for hours, some since the previous night. The line of boas stretched a half-mile down the access road in anticipation of being among the first watercrafts on the lake.

    Lower Cape Fear is perfect ‘summer home’ for plenty of specks. Here’s how to catch them.

    Fishermen have many options in the lower Cape Fear River during the summer, with redfish, flounder and sheepshead available from Snow’s Cut all the way to the Bald Head Island jetties.

    And low and behold, one of North Carolina’s premier gamefish, the speckled trout, will be congregated in familiar places.While most anglers restrict trout talk to the fall and the early spring , these spotted delicacies will be swarming inshore waters, spawning and pouncing on any food they come across. By using the right stuff in the right places, fishermen can catch trout well into the summer.

    Ocracoke Island is out of the way, but it’s one of North Carolina’s best coastal fisheries, offering a summer smorgasborg for anglers.

    On the highways that run south from Corolla, the village of Ocracoke is the end of the line on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Other inlets are more-easily accessed; getting to Ocracoke is a test of patience or a relaxing ride, depending on how you view the 40-minute ferry trip from Hatteras or the 2-hour ferry trips from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island.

    Most fishermen approach July as a month when bass are deep, but a Shearon Harris expert knows how to reach out and touch them on top.

    While waiting for a visiting angler, Chili the Wonder Dog took guide Jeff Thomas for a walk around the parking lot at the Merry Oaks boat ramp at Shearon Harris Lake as the sun burned through the daylight fog last July 10.

    It didn’t appear to be a great day for fishing. The temperature had zoomed into the 90s and spent a week there, slowing the bite, so Thomas, a bass pro from nearby Broadway, wanted to get an early start, along with Chili.

    "I’m gonna show you something not a lot of people know who fish Harris know about," Thomas said when his party finally arrived.

    Rivers in Northeastern North Carolina produce great bream fishing for anglers who fish both styles of flies.

    A layer of fog floated above the water, foreshadowing the humidity that sunrise would bring on a July day. Bob Smithwick manuvered between the pilings on the NC 45 bridge, working the throttle and steering levers on his panfish-model Bass Tracker.

    The ramp at the south end of the bridge, which spans three rivers, gave the 77-year-old Smithwick angler access to some of the best and most extensive panfish action found anywhere.