|Bearded hen taken in Columbus County may be NC's biggest ever
April 19 at 7:10 pm
A long-awaited opportunity finally ended in success for a Columbus County hunter on April 16 when he killed a trophy bearded hen that’s unofficially the best ever killed in North Carolina.
Revis Long of Lake Waccamaw had watched his one-of-a-kind trophy for many months before he finally took her down on the third day of North Carolina’s spring turkey season with his 12-gauge Franchi shotgun.
Long’s trophy gal sported a 9.25-inch beard, weighed 9.59 pounds, and had an overall score of 28.09 by using the National Wild Turkey Federation’s score calculator. The NWTF maintains a records database for gobblers and bearded hens, and while the overwhelming majority of their records are male gobblers, 229 bearded hens are listed. Officially, the largest bearded hen ever recorded in North Carolina was taken in Rutherford County on April 21, 1998, that weighed 9.43 pounds, had an 8.75-inch beard and a total score of 27.18.
Under the supervision of wildlife officer Keith Rogers of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Long scored the bird and submitted necessary documentation to the NWTF for processing.
|Deer harvest is down from than 6,000 from 2011 season, Commission reports
April 19 at 5:27 pm
The N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission has announced recorded a statewide decline in the 2012 deer harvests over the previous season, with six of nine wildlife districts reporting decreases.
Hunters reported harvesting 167,249 whitetails in 2012, a drop of 6,304 – 3.6 percent – from the 2011 season; it was the fourth-straight decline in the statewide harvest.
However, Evin Stanford, the Commission’s lead deer biologist, isn’t worried and said the harvest reduction shouldn’t be viewed as a major concern.
“At the state level, (the total harvest) was not that far from last year,” he said. “High levels of mortality were very localized in nature. If you look at the overall state decline, it wasn’t that big, although one region did show an almost 20-percent drop.”
|Another 'gamefish bill' is introduced in N.C. state legislature
April 19 at 4:32 pm
For the fourth time, a bill to classify three coastal saltwater fish as “gamefish” has been introduced in the state legislature. Proponents are hoping this bill will fare better than the previous three attempts.
The bill, H 983, added April 17 to the N.C. House of Representatives hopper, would halt the sale of red drum and spotted seatrout from all coastal waters and striped bass from all coastal waters except the Atlantic Ocean.
The bi-partisan legislation has as primary sponsors: Tom Murry (R-Wake), Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe), Michael Wray (D-Halifax/Northampton) and John Bell (R-Craven/Greene/ Lenoir/Wayne). It also has been signed by Brian Brown (R-Pitt), Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg), Jim Fulghum (R-Wake), Darren Jackson (D-Wake), Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg) and Joe Tolson (D-Edgecombe/ Martin).
The bill is entitled “The 2013 Fisheries Economic Development Act” and has passed a first reading and been sent to the Committee on Commerce and Job Development, of which Murry is chairman.
|Whiting, puffers, bluefish are Oak Island pier fare as anglers await warmer water
April 18 at 8:12 pm
Spring came latethis year, but once it got its foot in the door, it has made up for lost time. One place fishermen are really noticing it are Oak Island’s piers. Even trout fishermen can’t hide pier catches; you’re 20 feet above the water, and either you reel fish in or you don’t.
Vance Courson of Ocean Crest Pier said a cold March definitely a setback for fish and fishermen, but with the past couple of warmer weeks, both are beginning to arrive.
“Our catches are picking up,” Courson said. “Fishermen are catching lots of whiting and puffers, plus some bluefish of various sizes and even some false albacore and bonito at night. We are also having an early pompano bite, and Sherrill Mullis of Oak Island caught a citation pompano of 2 pounds, 5 ounces on April 17.
|Shearon Harris bass spawn about to bust loose
April 17 at 8:05 pm
Sight-fishing for largemouth bass at North Carolina’s top lunker lake has begun, but access to Shearon Harris Lake still is a problem.
“The bass are moving onto the beds at all area lakes,” said guide Jeff Thomas of Carolina Outdoors. “Harris is getting ready to be a sight fisherman’s delight. The dogwoods are bloomin’, and that means the bass will be coming up.”
Because of a cold, wet late winter and early spring, the spawn at Harris this year won’t be in waves of fish as in the past but all at once, he said.
“The full moon is going to happen Monday, and that means the bass should move to the beds,” he said. “They’ll come at the same time. We’ve had a few sporadic bedders at Harris already, but nothing like what’s coming. It’ll be like turning on a light switch.”
|Thomasville couple wins Adam & Eve tourney on Badin
April 16 at 8:10 pm
For those with superstitious leanings, April 13 might be a day of misgivings, but for Neil and Pat McDonald of Thomasville, the date marked the couple’s first victory on the Adam & Eve Trail.
The McDonalds topped a field of 23 teams at Badin Lake with a 5-fish catch totaling 16 pounds, 3 ounces that was anchored with a 4-pound, 7-ounce bass. They caught their fish with plastic worms fishing rocky structure in four to five feet of water. Their victory paid $287.
“We had our limit soon after taking off from the Lakemont Landing,” said Pat. “We’ve had second- and third-place finishes on the trail, but this is the first time we’ve won a tournament.”
|N.C. House passes bill to start hunting 'apprentice' program
April 15 at 8:24 am
The N.C. House of Representatives passed last week House Bill 296 — The Hunter Education/Apprentice Permit — which allows an individual holding a Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permit to hunt if accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who holds a hunting license in North Carolina, or if the individual is accompanied by an adult landholder or landholder’s spouse who is exempt from the hunting license requirement if hunting on the landholder’s land.
Hunting with an apprentice license would still require following other licensing requirements and hunting regulations.
The Hunter Heritage Apprentice Permit is a product of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s “Strategic Recruitment and Retention Initiative” recently organized by Commissioner Dell Murphy. The bill, introduced by Rep. John Bell (R-Craven/Greene/Lenior/Wayne), is intended to increase participation in hunting by allowing individuals to hunt under the guidance of licensed hunters instead of requiring them to complete coursework.
|Youth-Only turkey hunting is great chance to involve kids in the outdoors
April 11 at 2:16 pm
Youth-only hunting days are designed to entice adults to mentor young hunters without succumbing to the temptations of hunting for themselves, and this year, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission expanded youth-only turkey hunting from one day to a six, from the first Saturday of April through the Friday that precedes the regular-season opener.
Walter ‘Deet’ James, hunting heritage biologist for the Commission, understands new-hunter recruitment is vital to the sustainability of hunting and fishing opportunities, and the obstacles that are in the way now did not exist just a couple of decades ago.
|Cape Fear River around Wilmington packed with stripers, puppy drum
April 11 at 8:37 am
Fishermen sticking close to downtown Wilmington have had it pretty good over the past week, according to Capt. Stuart Caulder of Gold Leader Fishing, who expects to catch stripers and puppy drum on every trip, and said productive trout waters are just a short boat-ride away.
“My clients have really been doing well with stripers,” Caulder said. “I know there is a moratorium in the Cape Fear River and all its tributaries, but it sure is fun catching and releasing them. We’ve been catching a whole lot of very healthy fish from about seven to 12 pounds and every one of them has a big belly.”
The dividing lines for Coastal, Joint and Inland Waters are the mouths of most creeks below the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge (US 421/US 17B/US 76) and everything above the bridge. However, there hasn’t been enough rain and runoff to make that area freshwater. Fish are mixing and mingling back and forth across the boundaries.
|Lake Tillery bass, crappie pointing toward peak bite
April 11 at 8:26 am
Spring fishing is on the verge of arriving in full force at Lake Tillery.
“Guys are doing really good on bass and crappie right now,” said Joe Aldridge of Joe’s Bait & Tackle in Albemarle, “but the best is yet to come.”
Tillery’s largemouth aren’t tight to the shoreline yet, as the spawn remains a few weeks away. Some crappie already are in shallow water, but the majority are still staging just off the banks.
|Mt. Pleasant angler 'bridges' his problem, wins at High Rock
April 10 at 7:59 am
Mt. Pleasant’s Steve Dyer resorted to “sinking his bass boat” and to negotiate his way to victory at the April 6 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series N.C. Division tournament at High Rock Lake.
Dyer wanted to fish in Flat Swamp Creek, but with High Rock experiencing high water, the railroad bridge across the mouth of the creek is normally too close to the water to allow the passage of any boats.
“I had to fill my boat with water to weigh it down and lean low to sneak under the Flat Swamp Bridge,” said Dyer, who pulled the drain plug to allow enough water into the hull to lower the boat’s profile enough to get it under the bridge.
The strategy paid off with a 5-fish catch of 19.57 pounds taken by fishing rocky structure in 10 feet of water with Zoom Super Hog creature baits and True South jigs in the Dyer-special green pumpkin color. His biggest bass weighed 6.14 pounds.
|Montgomery County produces great gobbler for 7-year-old hunter
April 09 at 8:22 am
Sportsmen strive to meet certain milestones; everyone wants to land a 10-pound bass, tag a 10-point buck or bag a 20-pound turkey. Grown men and women strive for decades or longer to achieve such goals.
It didn’t take Chase Kinley of Thomasville very long to kill the gobbler of a lifetime.
A 7-year-old first grader, Chase began hunting with his father, Steve, when he was three. This past Saturday, on Opening Day of North Carolina’s new Youth-Only Turkey Season, Chase showed up his father big time, taking a 21-pound gobbler that sported a 10-inch beard and 1 1/8-inch spurs.
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