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    The onset of cold weather gets the blue catfish in Santee Cooper’s sprawling reservoirs interested in filling their bellies on a regular basis.

    Code blue! Cold blues! - It’s time for cold blue cats on Santee Cooper lakes

    As the holiday season nears, outdoor lovers gravitate towards an early morning duck hunt or a last-minute sit in their favorite deer stands. But if you’ve got a fishy state of mind, winter is prime time to lock onto a trophy catfish, and there’s no place better than Santee Cooper’s Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.

    December 01 at 7:00am
    A big spotted bass and a big largemouth bass adds up to a nice Lake Norman catch for Carson Orellano of Mooresville, N.C.

    A great spot to be in - Anglers flock to Lake Norman for North Carolina’s best spotted bass fishing

    One morning last December, a bass tournament was blasting off out of the McCrary Creek boating ramp, aka Queens Landing, but Carson Orellana of Mooresville, N.C., was perfectly content to let the traffic clear before he backed his Nitro down the ramp and pushed off into Lake Norman.

    December 01 at 7:00am
    Guide Noah Lynk of Harkers Island caught this huge speckled trout in the waters close to his home base.

    Harkers Island holiday treasures - December fishing in Cape Lookout’s inshore waters can be fantastic

    Once the weather begins to cool around Thanksgiving, many fishermen clean their gear and winterize their boats for storage until spring. Fishermen who put on a jacket and continue to fish really appreciate this. The shorter lines at launching ramps and reduced competition for preferred spots makes catching a limit of specks and reds much easier.

    December 01 at 7:00am
    Late fall is probably the easiest time to catch redfish

    Fast or slow? Just fool them - Which retrieve is the best to catch late-fall Carolina redfish

    Who’s right?  

    You’ve read the articles, watched fishing shows and videos and fished with guides or other so-called experts, and they give conflicting advice on how to catch redfish. Those who fish with bait know catching reds is pretty straight forward: drop live or dead bait into a likely spot and wait until something eats it. Yes, there are many subtleties to presenting the bait into the right spots, but if the fish are hungry, they will eat.

    December 01 at 7:00am

    Cover

    The end of the season is in sight, so it's time to pull out all the stops to tag out on that trophy buck.

    December 01 at 7:00am
    Deer hunters in North Carolina and South Carolina don’t have to put their guns away after the rut. December can be the time to take a bonus buck.

    December deer do’s and don’ts in the Carolinas

    Late-season deer hunting in the Carolinas is not for everyone, just those addicted to hunting whitetails. December can be the most-challenging time of the season, but hunters looking for the chance to fill a tag still have opportunities — and some advantages.

    December 01 at 7:00am
    North Carolina deer hunters shouldn’t give up yet; there’s still December.

    Don’t give up yet - Use food to your advantage to target late-second North Carolina bucks

    Ninety-five percent of North Carolina hunters agree that bagging a whitetail with a sizeable rack is more difficult during December than any other month.

    Several reasons exist for this condition: 

    December 01 at 7:00am
    North Carolina hunters will recognize a sweet swan song from a hunting blind.

    A sweet swan song - The tundra swan sings a sweet song for North Carolina waterfowl hunters

    After pulling on their chest waders at 6 a.m., six hunters left a comfortable cabin and drove to a nearby wheat field to set a spread of over-sized shell and windsock decoys in the soft, black soil near Pantego, N.C. The “weep-weep” sound of a young swan soon turned their faces skyward.

    December 01 at 7:00am
    Pro angler Matt Arey fishes only suspending jerkbaits; to add weight to make them suspend, he’ll change out hooks for ones a size larger.

    Suspending jerkbaits more common than in the past

    Deep inside my tackle box, there is a Rapala floating minnow that’s a victim of a late 1980s how-to article. Above the front hook, I drilled three holes and inserted a split shot in each, then sealed the wounds with epoxy. At the time, it was one of only a few ways that anglers could make their jerkbaits suspend.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    Bass pro Andy Montgomery catches his best jerkbait bass on the lower end of Lake Wylie, where the water is less stained.

    Catch more bass by understanding Wylie’s shad

    Find the shad, and you’ll find the bass. That well-worn wisdom is true on Lake Wylie, especially in the winter. But to find the shad, it helps to know a little about them.

    Lake Wylie’s largemouth bass predominately feed on two types of shad, according to David Goodfred, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The first are gizzard shad, which tolerate cold water well, but quickly grow larger than bass can eat. The other is threadfin, which average 4 to 7 inches long, the perfect size for bass to eat.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    Black nose crappie are a uniquely marked black crappie found in the Eno River. They have a black stripe running from the front of the dorsal fin to the lower jaw.

    Black nose crappie

    Without a doubt, the Eno River presents a unique crappie fishing experience, in part because it offers the opportunity to catch a unique crappie.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    Tiny jigs with built-in spinner blades can make a big difference in the number of crappie going in your cooler.

    Blades of glory

    Ask guide Eddie Moody what the difference is between a long-liner and a tight-liner, he’ll quickly tell you that a tight-liner is more of a finesse or presentation fisherman, while a long-liner is putting his money on a reaction strike. As a long-liner, Moody ups the ante by rigging half of his offerings with bladed jigs to cause a forced feed.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    The short leader and circle hook of a Lupton rig may be the best choice for surf anglers targeting big redfish.

    Wire may help with sharks, but it’s not the leader of choice for surf anglers targeting reds

    A question that is often debated by anglers is whether or not the terminal end of your surf-fishing line should consist of heavy monofilament or wire. 

    November 15 at 6:00am
    October and November are prime times to fish live baits for king mackerel within just a few miles of North Carolina’s beaches.

    How to set up a kite rig for kings

    Setting up a boat to fish for king mackerel with kites isn’t complicated.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    A shock of extremely cold weather will keep deer movements at a minumum until the sun has time to warm the landscape later in the morning.

    Frigid days bookmark deer activity

    Unlike deer hunters in Canada or south Texas, hunters in the Carolinas have to prepare for both ends of the weather spectrum. It is not uncommon to get 80-degree highs for a few days and snow flurries a few days later. While deer in this environment have adapted to quick condition changes, frigid temperatures occur occasionally, and deer will respond predictably. 

    November 15 at 6:00am
    Don’t give deer any advance warning of your presence, and you might score on a real wall-hanger like Alisa Green did last season in Wake County, N.C.

    Without alarms, deer more likely to run into trouble

    The Carolinas, despite their rural setting, are far from what most people would call a wilderness. The overwhelming majority of the states’ deer population is accustomed to automobile horns, sirens, dogs barking and other symptoms of human occupancy.

    November 15 at 6:00am