Winter fishing, especially late in the winter once the days start warming, can be some of the best and most fun of the year, plus, you are ready to shake off winter and get outside. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most dangerous times to be on the water.
Running through the Basin and Second Bay to the creeks beyond Buzzard Bay, Christian Wolfe of Seahawk Inshore Charters weaved his bay boat around submerged mud and oyster rocks and through marsh islands like there were highway markers and a dotted center-line.
It is winter. It is cold. Fishing is likely not the first activity that comes to mind. Fishing from a kayak is likely a step or two below that on the list. Fishing from a kayak at night in the bitter cold, well, that is on the crazy list rather than the activity list.
Each year, a portion of money generated through the sales of North Carolina’s coastal recreational fishing licenses is set aside to fund projects to benefit anglers, fish species, and fishing access points. This year, more than $1.7 million will be split between 15 projects.
Some pretty cold weather has set in around Atlantic Beach, but that hasn’t stopped anglers from catching plenty of red drum and sea trout. These two species are definitely the stars of the show this time of year. Casting topwater plugs on the high, falling tide is a good tactic for both species, said Matt Zook of Capt. Joe’s Bait and Tackle.
If you’ve spent much time fishing with a popping cork, it’s happened to you. You’re fishing along, popping your wrist to make that popping cork create just the right sound, pausing in between, letting the lure under your popping cork settle before popping it again. And then, your popping cork gets crushed by a gator trout.
In the 17 years since the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission defined catch standards to prevent overfishing, and the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission published a fisheries management plan for the species that set more-restrictive limits for commercial and recreational fishermen, red drum have thrived in North Carolina waters.
Fresh off winning the annual Capt. Rickey’s Trout Speck-tacular Tournament on Egret Baits’ new Rattling Vudu Shrimp, Clay Morphis of Shallotte, N.C., caught a big prize, a 13-pound, 30.5-inch flounder, with the same lure on Dec. 29.
About 20 years ago, North Carolina’s winter and early spring inshore fishing was a losing proposition. Cold weather chased sportfish from sounds, bays and rivers to the warmer ocean waters, leaving inshore anglers to oil and respool reels, remove rust and repair rods while waiting for spring.
Anglers are among the most well-known stretchers of the truth in the land — or water, as the case may be. For some reason, everyone has had the biggest fish of their life break off right at the boat with no evidence to prove otherwise. By chance they did land the fish, it was “returned to the water to grow bigger and be caught another day.”
Side-scan or side-imaging has been around for a few years, long enough for units with such capabilities to be more affordable to the average user, providing applications for all kinds of fishing. Side-scan is still sonar; the difference lies in the beam and projection angle.
Astro or solunar tables are published in a lot of outdoor periodicals, but they are often skipped or skimmed as if they were akin to astrology. But animal activity in accordance with the positioning of the sun and moon is an applied science that has been aiding outdoorsmen since the first table was published in 1936.
The N.C. State Port in Wilmington is 24 miles upriver from the mouth of the Cape Fear River. A channel is maintained to allow large ships to travel upriver to the port. There is almost continual maintenance dredging at some point between the river’s mouth and Wilmington.
The Cape Fear is North Carolina’s only major river that flows directly into the ocean. Its headwaters reach into Virginia, and it becomes the Cape Fear about 4 miles below Jordan Lake Dam where the Haw and Deep rivers merge. From there, it works its way about 200 miles to Southport.
The speckled trout bite is hot along the border, with good catches coming from areas in Little River on up to Ocean Isle Beach. The fish are very concentrated though, so while the specks are thick in some areas, they are no present at all – or at least not feeding – in others.