• Volume 19 Number 9 - September 2012

    Features

    North Carolina’s public lands provide hunters with access to every wild-game species available. Here’s your guide to these pieces of property.

    North Carolina’s 89 game lands cover 2 million acres and spread from the mountains to the sea. They offer sportsmen who don’t have access to private property many opportunities to hunt every species of game in the state — from doves to black bear.

    The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s biologists and crews manage these public lands, which also play a key role in conservation and preservation. Commission staff members create habitat not only for wild game, but for animals that aren’t hunted plus for native plants, streams and the fish that swim in them.

    For places to hunt the elusive ‘Carolina pigeon,’ try North Carolina’s game-lands fields.

    The best dove hunt floating on top of my memory happened when I was about 12 or 13 years old.

    My dad and about a dozen of his friends drove to an Alamance County farm. The group’s alpha male, Lennie, was a respected timber cruiser for a local sawmill who sharpened chain saws at his cigar smoke-filled repair shop at night.

    Dad and his friends often met at "Lennie’s place" every night after dinner — if they escaped their wives. From two to a half dozen trucks were parked outside while inside these guys spun yarns — some of them true — about their outdoors adventures, exploits of smarter-than-human bird dogs, wily old gobblers, big bucks, dumb relatives, crack shots they’d made and crack pots in Raleigh and Washington, D.C.

    Fall Harkers Island flounder action is as good as it gets. Here are the details.

    Working through the braided cuts in the Shackleford Banks marsh would have been a daunting feat for many fishermen, but Capt. Noah Lynk of Harkers Island buzzed his Bay Rider skiff in and out of the channels with the skill and confidence of someone who travels them regularly.

    Finally, after a dozen or more turns and twists, he cut the throttle and slowed to idle speed.

    Turning one more corner, Lynk (who operates Noah’s Ark Fishing and Tour Charters) eased through a small cut barely wider than the boat that opened into an area where several creeks formed a fair-sized pocket. He silently glided to an area where water was being channeled through two funnels between oyster rocks and eased his anchor over.

    New Bern is jumping-off point for great fall fishing in the Neuse and Trent rivers.

    Now that fall has arrived, fishermen are swarming to saltwater. While some of the more expansive waters of the Neuse River downstream from New Bern receive all of the publicity during the summer when giant red drum and torpedoing tarpon are making the biggest splash, these bigger gamefish will be moving out of the river by September.

    So it’s increasingly the smaller fish that are stealing the show. Anglers who want to catch something the right size to keep for eating — or who just want to catch lots of fish using light tackle — will find no better place to launch a small boat packed full of what amounts to bass-fishing tackle.

    From Southport to Little River, boats can find plenty of action from powerful wahoo over the next few months.

    It would be hard to imagine what the bluewater fishery along the coast between Cape Fear and the Grand Strand would look like without the vicious striped cousin of the king mackerel.

    It has been years since the area has produced any notable catches of yellowfin tuna. Dolphin and billfish do visit each year, but typically only for a few months at a time.

    Thankfully, the wicked wahoo is there to pick up the slack — and they do that and more, especially in the fall.

    Spotted bass, white perch now top targets on lower end of this sprawling reservoir.

    Craig Parks calls himself a “reformed striper fisherman,” and says it’s a matter of necessity.

    Parks, who runs Fish On Lake Norman Guide Service, said that, on Lake Norman, the alternative is to be a frustrated striper fisherman, or an unsuccessful striper fisherman, or a retired striper fisherman.

    “The striper population is really low now,” Parks said. “Starting about seven years ago, we’ve been having a fish kill about every other summer, and we had a big one in 2009. I’ve seen them floating this summer — not in big numbers, but I don’t doubt there’d be more if there were more in the lake.”

    Archery season in Eastern North Carolina is often overlooked, but a bow could be the ticket to filling your tags. Here are the keys.

    With North Carolina’s 2012-13 deer season set to begin when the statewide archery season opens Sept. 8, bowhunters from Manteo to Murphy will be in the woods.

    Hopefully, most of them will have practiced enough to be able to make accurate shots, but outside conditions and hunter success or failure will vary greatly, depending upon weather, food sources, stand locations and dozens of other variables.