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Outdoors report: Fishing's good as crappie move into shallows

Crappie fishing remains hot and heavy as fish move into the shallows, preparing to spawn.
Almost any structure, including piers, floating docks, submerged trees or stumps, and rip-rap rocks are all great places to try.
Structure found in water from 2 to 8 feet deep is the best, with minnows being the top choice of most fishermen.
Many are finding tube jigs work great also. Jig colors to consider include black/chartreuse, pearl, white/yellow and red/chartreuse.
Black and white crappie are both being caught in good numbers on High Rock Lake, but blacks usually account for 80 percent of most creels.
Both species are counted together as part of the daily creel limit of 20 total fish.
Some hot spots to try include Panther Creek at the hard turn to the right where the channel gets narrow and turns into more of a narrow creek. Fish the submerged stumps on the left and the rocks and trees lining the right shoreline. Access to this area is usually limited to boats unless permission is obtained to enter from private land.
Another great place is at Crane Creek along the shoreline of the N.C. Wildlife Game Lands. You can get there from Bringle Ferry Road by turning onto Price Road, then right onto File Road to the end. Follow the foot trails to the water’s edge and fish the numerous points and reefs that are within casting distance of the shoreline.
At Dutch Second Creek near Tamarac Marina, focus on the Bringle Ferry Road rip-rap rock shoreline. Water depth drops off quickly and often fish gather within 3 feet of the shore.
Bank fishermen are advised to be aware that areas in the Goodman Lake Road portion of Crane Creek where the steel bridge once stood has limited access by foot. Trespassing, littering, illegal parking and theft from construction sites have forced landowners to close most areas that were once open to fishermen. Fishermen who wander on posted property face arrest, and vehicles parked along the roadside illegally may be towed.
For miles of public land where fishing is great, consider Tuckertown Lake in Rowan County. Travel Bringle Ferry Road through the community of Pooletown, just before crossing the river bridge a large parking area is on the right. For those who want to get away from the crowds, follow foot trails that can be found along the lakeside downstream.
More than 2 miles of wooded shoreline can be found in the first portion of game lands before any houses or private land is found. Crappie, white perch, catfish and largemouth bass abound throughout this area. Travel along River Road, which runs from Bringle Ferry Road to Stokes Ferry Road, for more fishing spots.
Conditions on High Rock Lake and Tuckertown are stained to clear, although some upper portions of creeks are muddy due to recent rains. Water temperatures are in the high 50s in most areas, with water levels within about 2 feet of full in most lakes throughout the Yadkin River chain.
Largemouth bass are becoming more active, with good catches seen along the Yadkin River upstream of Interstate 85 and in Tuckertown Lake near Cabin and Newsome creeks. One fishermen caught and released a largemouth just under 8 pounds near Newsome Creek last week.
Hunting
Hunters are gearing up for opening of turkey season on Saturday with good numbers of birds found throughout the area. Plenty of public land is open to turkey hunting in Rowan, Davidson, Montgomery and Stanly counties. Game Land Maps are free online at www.ncwildlife.org or you can buy one for $10 from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and license agents that carry them.
Hunters are reminded to observe private land boundaries and enter only with written permission. Shotguns or archery equipment is the only allowed methods for hunting turkeys.
Electronic calls, rifles and pistols are illegal, as is hunting by the aid of bait.
Q&A
Q. I have been feeding turkeys throughout the winter and now plan to hunt the same area. How long does the bait have to be gone before it is legal to hunt there?
A. Hunting an area that has been baited can be a risky venture. Often corn, wheat or other grains that are commonly used can be found weeks later under leaves, pine straw or other vegetation. An area is considered “baited” 10 days from the day the last bait is gone.
Q. If it’s legal shooting time and I see a Tom turkey in a tree, is it legal to shoot it?
A. Yes.
Q. If I shoot a bearded hen during the spring season, would I be in trouble?
A. No. Turkey season targets male birds, known as Jakes and Toms. These birds are easily identified by the “beard” that protrudes from their chest. But occasionally a hen will have a beard and is taken by hunters who mistake it for a male. The law is worded in a manner that allows bearded birds only in the spring season, which includes a bearded hen.
Q. While calling turkeys, if a coyote comes within shotgun range, can I shoot it?
A. Yes. Coyote season is open in most areas Monday through Saturday.
Hunting no-nos
While working in turkey season, officers come across some unusual situations or suspects with interesting alibis.
A hunter once claimed his innocence invoking the memory of his dear mother and the good Lord as his witnesses, claiming he had no idea he was anywhere close to a baited area. That didn’t stick when his turkey decoy was found stuck in the middle of a very large pile of corn.
Wildlife Officer Scott Isley of Rowan County was approaching a baited site last season when a shot rang out less than 50 yards from him. Quickly approaching the blind, he found a suspect sitting with a smoking shotgun and reloading. Asking the suspect if he bagged a bird, the excited hunter told the officer that he must of missed the biggest hen turkey he had ever seen. Besides the problem of shooting at a hen, the man was sitting 25 yards from a large tripod deer corn feeder that was in operation scattering corn. When confronted with the issue of the corn, the man replied that the feeder was no problem because it was a “deer feeder” and he was turkey hunting! Several citations followed.
Trout waters open
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission opened approximately 1,120 miles of “hatchery-supported trout waters” in 25 western counties this past Saturday. The season will run until one-half hour after sunset on Feb. 28, 2009.
While fishing on the waters marked by green-and-white signs, anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limits or bait restrictions.
Striped bass seminarDr. Jim Rice of N.C. State University will present a free seminar on striped bass at the Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education starting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Rice will discuss recent findings concerning the physical and biological processes affecting growth and survival of reservoir striped bass.
The Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education is located on the first floor of the N.C Wildlife Resources Commission’s administrative headquarters, 1751 Varsity Drive in Raleigh. For more information, call 919-707-0203.
E-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at huntfishguy66@ aol.com.

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