Outdoors report: Turkey season off with a bang
Turkey season began with great weather and birds gobbling hot and heavy in many areas.
Area hunters bagged large birds, with several weighing more than 20 pounds and some with beards longer than 10 inches.
Wildlife Officers were busy checking baited areas that resulted in several hunters being charged. In one case, a hunter had placed a blind less than 25 yards from a large deer feeder that was filled with corn. As an officer approached, the hunter shot a large gobbler that was standing almost under the tripod of the feeder. When the suspect was questioned, he said he fed deer all year long and the corn was not for turkeys. As he attempted to explain why 14 turkeys were around the “deer” feeder, the timer went off and corn shot from the feeder.
Areas on public land in Rowan and Davidson County saw moderate hunting activity with a fair amount of birds heard or seen. One area to consider is Alcoa gamelands off of Stokes Road in Davidson County. Target the newer cut-overs near Bald Mountain. Be prepared for a 2-mile walk if you enter via Stokes Road. Boat access will place you less than half a mile from wooded ridges and recent cut-overs.
In Rowan County, try Alcoa gamelands between Reeves Isle and Stokes Ferry roads. Park near the cabled logging roads just past Antioch Church on Stokes Ferry Road or at the cabled roads off Reeves Isle Road.
Private land is generally well marked in these areas, but always refer to a current gameland map before hunting.
Crappie fishing remains the hottest ticket around High Rock Lake. Fishermen are filling the parking areas at all public accesses along High Rock and Tuckertown lakes.
Catches have been steady with limits of crappie common, and trophy fish weighing close to or over 2 pounds seen weekly.
Minnows are the hot bait for most people with local tackle stores having a hard time keeping them in stock. Fish are being caught lake wide around any structure in generally shallow water often less than 3 feet deep. Tube jigs are also doing almost as good as live minnows with black/chartreuse with sparkles one of the best to start out with.
Hill’s Minnow Farm’s Crappie Roundup has well over 1,000 participants trying to catch tagged fish worth a total of more than $30,000 in cash and prizes.
Several big money fish have been turned in, with cash prizes from $200 to $500 paid to the lucky fishermen. For more information on rules and recent tagged fish,contact Hill’s Minnow Farm on Bringle Ferry Road near High Rock Lake.
Largemouth bass have been hitting well on Tuckertown and High Rock lakes too, as water temperatures hit the low 60s.
Bass are hitting shad type lures, spinner baits and some soft plastics near shallow water structure. Several weighing in more than 6 pounds were seen on Tuckertown during the past week in the area of Cabin Creek.
On High Rock, good catches are turning up in portions of Pott’s Creek and the area just downstream from Buck Steam power station.
Striped bass are hitting well at the tail races of all the local power dams. At High Rock Dam, stripers up to 20 pounds were seen caught by bank fishermen this past week. The bait of choice was plastic shad bodies with a 1 ounce lead head jig. At Tuckertown Dam, fish weighing between 6 and 10 pounds were caught most every day, with an occasional one weighing to 15 pounds. Narrows and Falls dams are both producing fish in the 10-pound range, with several hitting 15 pounds or more.
As the water warms the next two weeks, the striper spawn should peak with fish hitting 20 pounds or more a possibility at the Yadkin River dams.
The best times to try are early mornings and late evenings, with the amount of water being released from the power plants a major factor in the daily bite.
Live gizzard shad also are one of the best baits and usually can be caught with cast nets near the dams or access areas.
Wear a life vest
North Carolina law requires children younger than 13 to wear an appropriate life vest whenever on a recreational vessel that is under way.
Parents should inspect each child’s life vest to see if it is good condition and that it properly fits, according to the state’s boating safety coordinator.
When choosing a life vest for a child, check for:
– U.S. Coast Guard approved label.
– Head support and, for younger children, a strap between the legs.
The life vest must be a proper fit, with youth sizes corresponding to weight ranges. Make sure it is snug but comfortable
With younger children, have them raise their arms, and when gently tugged upward on the life vest, their chin and ears shouldn’t slip through.
Never buy a life vest that is too large, hoping the child will grow into it. Never let a child wear a life vest that isn’t the correct weight range and lacks the proper buoyancy.
Adults should consider wearing a life vest also, to be safe and to set a good example.
Anglers who may be delaying the purchase of a fishing license because they think the drought parched their favorite fishing hole should consider spending the $15 for a basic annual license because fishing remains good in many places.
In fact, depending on where you are, the fishing can be extremely good, say fisheries biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. In the Coastal Region, many lower sections of rivers were relatively unaffected by the drought. In the Mountain Region, fishing remains at least average in most rivers and streams, and anglers will find abundant fishing opportunities.
While the fishing remains good, biologists are concerned about potential drought impacts upon spawning success. Poor reproductive success could translate into poorer fishing a couple of years from now.
Fish populations are fairly prolific and those stricken by events that Mother Nature doles out tend to recover quickly. For example, Commission biologists found, through multi-year surveys, that largemouth bass populations in coastal rivers rebounded nicely from massive oxygen-related fish kills spawned by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
Each spring, biologists conduct surveys to track the abundance and condition of fish populations. Results help biologists determine management strategies for public waters with the goal of more and better fishing opportunities.
“Money from fishing license sales helps us maintain existing fisheries programs that improve fishing opportunities statewide,” said Bob Curry, chief of the agency’s Division of Inland Fisheries. “Angler dollars help the division protect aquatic habitats; provide youth fishing opportunities; (and) monitor the abundance of sportfish populations.”
E-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These young authors were honored Sunday at a celebration in Raleigh. They wrote on the topic, “Let’s Read,” for the... read more