• Volume 19 Number 10 - October 2012


    Because smokepole season dates differ, hunters from across North Carolina must use different tactics to put venison in the freezer and racks on the wall.

    With North Carolina’s deer seasons divided into four regions by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission — along with seasons that cater to three different kinds weapons — hunters find themselves in different weather and deer-activity conditions but relegated to using the same types of weapons. That can cause some problems that can be overcome. For instance, archery hunters have the closest thing to a consistent opening date as the statewide archery season began at approximately the same time. But muzzleloader and gun seasons vary widely by region. Zoned seasons mean hunters must make choices how and where to pursue whitetails, particularly with muzzleloading rifles. Muzzleloader season was expanded from one to two weeks last season, and the length of season is the same for 2012-13.

    This Shearon Harris guide goes against the grain and targets deep bass with live shad.

    Guide Greg Griffin of Holly Sprints is a live-bait specialist who dangles natural baits in front of fish instead of artificial replicas.

    Griffin’s approach, mainly on display at Shearon Harris Lake, isn’t unique, in that many fishermen use live bait to catch fish: crappie, walleye, stripers, mountain trout, catfish or bream, not to mention saltwater species.

    What sets Griffin apart is that he uses live bait to catch largemouth bass, a tactic that irks many other fishermen just as the use of live bait agitates many trout-fishing purists.

    Pay attention to these factors to fill your buck tag this fall.

    As autumn arrives in North Carolinas, hunters in the Eastern deer section get the first shot at a trophy buck, while the rest of the state’s hunters are still launching razor-tipped arrows. On Oct. 13, deer in the eastern third of the state will no longer be able to skirt just outside of primitive-weapons range to reach their destinations. The opening of gun season will allow hunters to encounter trophy bucks before hunting pressure drives them deep into secluded cover.

    The ball is certainly in the hunter’s court in October. For starters, early season hunters just have a statistical advantage. With the exception of the relatively few deer taking during the primitive-weapons seasons, the overwhelming majority of surviving bucks from previous seasons will be available. Every deer responsible for creating fresh rubs and scrapes is out there, not to mention all of the mature bucks uncovered during pre-season trail-camera surveys.

    Structure is rare, so find some and cash in on this river’s best fishing.

    George Beckwith had barely closed the bail on his spinning reel when his rod tip bounced, not the solid thump of a redfish or flounder, but the peck of one of many bait thieves in the lower Neuse River. In just a few seconds, the peck came back again in the rat-a-tat-tat style of a pinfish.

    Beckwith didn’t relax, knowing that if the chunk of cut mullet lasted long enough, a puppy drum or flounder would come investigate what the smaller fish was biting and shaking.

    “Don’t try to set the hook on the little taps,” Beckwith said. “When it’s a drum, it will be a solid thump, and a flounder will be a much lighter bite that just seems to get heavier. On the lighter bite, give it a few seconds to get the bait in its mouth before setting the hook.”

    The fall run of this tasty saltwater panfish brings fishermen from across North Carolina to coastal piers.

    A crisp wind out of the northeast forced dozens of anglers standing along the wooden rails to cinch down the hoods of their jackets, raincoats and sweatshirts. Peeking out from beneath the cap bills were the happy faces of anglers of all ages and genders.

    They had come from across the state, but standing shoulder-to-shoulder along the rails at Kure Beach Fishing Pier, there were no strangers among them. Everyone was slinging rigs and bait into the water and hauling up spots.

    John Watts and his father, Bobby Watts, were among the spot seekers. The ubiquitous fish show up around nearly every North Carolina ocean pier in the fall, and fortunately, they anghad arrived at the right time for the best action of the year.

    Gator trout love the fall weather, and this is why anglers do too

    Among the distinguished chains of islands of the Cape Fear coast lies the radiant coastal community of Wrightsville Beach. Popular among locals and tourists for its gin-clear waters, high surf and dazzling shorelines, the fishing can also be exceptional. At times, these waters can produce pure angling pleasures, and fall conditions along the rock jetties that line Masonboro Inlet on the south end of town spawn an unbelievable fishery of jumbo speckled trout fully eligible for a chapter of its own in North Carolina’s angler almanac. Even though speckled trout frequent the waters around Wrightsville Beach almost year-round, it’s not until fall conditions arrives that the huge, gator trout become plentiful. It is not uncommon to catch a limit of 3- to 4-pound fish, with a few exceeding 5 pounds at times. The huge rock wall and jetties double as a major feeding center for these snaggle-toothed beasts, but very few trout can be caught at the jetties before the waters start to cool.

    Angola Bay and Holly Shelter game lands offer hunters a little bit of everything on tracts of land that are anything but little.

    Along a sandy road winding through a wiregrass ridge shaded by longleaf pines, a pickup truck parked. Tied atop a kennel built into the pickup bed was a buck with a pair of long, sickle-shaped antlers. The “cowhorn” was the first deer of the season taken by Richard “Junior” Grubb of Topsail Beach.

    “We’ve been hunting this area for 30 years,” Grubb said. “There don’t seem to be as many hunters as there were, and they are scattered out more.”

    Grubb was hunting on Lodge Road in Holly Shelter Game Land on Opening Day of the 2011 deer season, along with seven other hunters, including his brother, Ricky.