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Outdoors report: Local lakes paying dividends for fishermen

Local fishermen have been hitting the water in pursuit of crappie, bass and catfish. Success rates have been good, with crappie usually providing steady action throughout the day. Boaters report plenty being caught while trolling, although many are small. The largest ones are starting to show up at night, caught by fishermen using lights and minnows.
Largemouth bass are active across the lake. In the mornings, try spinner-baits along rip-rap near St. Matthew’s Church Road in Fisherman’s Cove and Abbott’s Creek along the shoreline of N.C. 8. During midday, try underwater structure and humps, where small crank baits have been producing good sized fish.
Witgh channel catfish active in most areas, try chicken liver, worms and cut-bait. Fish up to 10 pounds have been caught. Large flathead catfish are biting, with some over 20 pounds coming in. Try shallow areas near sharp drop-offs in late evening and night. Use live bait for the best chance at a trophy sized fish.
Water conditions on High Rock Lake are stained in main channel areas with most creeks clear to stained. Water temperatures are higher than 70 degrees in most places.
Tuckertown Lake is stained in the main channel areas, with major creeks clear. Aquatic weeds are starting to get thick in shallow water, which can result in next to impossible conditions for most baits except top water lures. Although flipping into open areas has been productive for some fishermen, with catches up to 5 pounds. Try Cabin Creek along the southeast shoreline and the small island before you go under the railroad bridge.
Boating safely this summer
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission urges everyone to be safe by wearing a life vest while boating this summer.
Children younger than 13 are required by law to wear a proper life vest whenever they are on a recreational vessel that is underway. The life vest must carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved label, be the correct size for the wearer and in good condition. The law also requires anyone on or being towed by personal watercraft (jet skis) wear approved personal flotation devices.
Boat operators are also reminded that a proper life vest is required for each person onboard.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission provides a vessel operator’s guide, a boating checklist and more.
This boating season, wildlife officers will resume a boat safe, boat sober campaign. A blood-alcohol concentration of .08 is legally intoxicated for vessel operators. The law also allows an operator to be charged if appreciably impaired, regardless of blood-alcohol concentration. Exposure to wind and waves, combined with heat, motor noise and vibrations can create a condition known as boater fatigue, in which the effects of alcohol can be magnified up to three times.
Anglers and the economy
Whether fishing for trout in a coldwater mountain stream, casting a line for largemouth bass in a neighborhood pond, or surf fishing for red drum, the 1.3 million anglers who fish in North Carolina spend more than $1.1 billion annually in pursuit of their favorite fish with a total statewide economic impact of more than $1.9 billion.
According to the 2006 Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Recreation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the majority of angler-spending dollars were trip-related expenditures, which include food, lodging, transportation and other trip expenses. Equipment, such as rods, reels, tackle, etc., constituted the second largest category of expenses, while the purchase of supplementary items, such as magazines, licenses and permits, accounted for the remaining dollars.
Expenditures by freshwater anglers 16 years of age and older in North Carolina averaged $717 per year, while saltwater anglers averaged $1,077 per year.
An avid outdoorsman since he reeled in his first fish at age 7, Lee Ratcliffe, now 34, estimates he spent close to $550 in 2008 on his fishing excursions ó far less than what the Garner resident spent before he became the father of two, but still significant when you multiply his expenditures by 1.3 million other anglers.
“Before every fishing trip, I usually will buy a new lure or get live bait,” Ratcliffe said. “I’ll also fill my gas tank for the boat.”
Ratcliffe’s expenditures, while relatively small, help support industries that provide fishing supplies and help support jobs in his community, which, in time, generate more taxes added to the state’s coffers.
North Carolina ranks ninth in the nation in angler expenditures, according to American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) “Sportfishing in America” survey.
“$4 for a fishing lure, $125 for a rod and reel, $50 to gas up the boat and another $100 for food and accommodations, and it’s easy to see how an overnight fishing trip can add up, particularly when you multiply individual spending by more than 1 million anglers,” said Robert Curry, chief of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Division of Inland Fisheries. “Without anglers, our economy would be a lot smaller.”
This is particularly true when you consider the economic ripple effect that anglers’ direct spending has on the economy. Dollars spent directly on fishing in North Carolina create an additional $775 million in economic activity, boosting anglers’ total statewide economic impact to over $1.9 billion, according to American Sportfishing Association’s survey.
Other economic facts from the American Sportfishing Association’s survey:
– Through their expenditures, anglers directly supported 20,712 jobs, contributing nearly $582 million towards salaries, wages and business earnings.
– North Carolina angling generates more than $138 million in federal tax revenues and more than $122 million in state and local tax revenues.
“The economic impact that anglers have on our state economy is tremendous and everyone should encourage and support fishing,” Curry said. “States that encourage fishing by providing access and maintaining healthy aquatic habitats and fish communities not only provide a wholesome family recreational activity, but benefit through jobs, tax revenues and an increase in tourism.”
Rules up for legislative review
The North Carolina Rules Review Commission has referred a number of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s proposed rules changes to the General Assembly, due to written opposition. This action is required under state law.
As a result, these rules changes will not be implemented until reviewed by the Legislature next year. Legislators have 30 days from the start of the next session to propose a bill disapproving the rule. If no bill is proposed, the rule automatically goes into effect.
For a summary of the Commission’s actions on proposed rules changes at the March 4 Commission meeting, visit WRC Commission Actions on Proposed Changes in Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations for 2009-2010 at www.ncwildlife.org
E-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at huntfishguy66@aol.com.

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