Fishing on the Yadkin River has been difficult due to recent precipitation and high water.
On High Rock Lake, main channel areas are generally muddy to heavily stained. Some scattered floating hazards such as logs and assorted wooden dock parts are from Crane Creek upstream toward the mud flats. Main feeder creeks of High Rock, including Crane, Dutch Second and Abbott’s, are stained to muddy with the one exception of Flat Swamp Creek, which is generally clear once you pass under the railroad bridge on the main channel.
As normal, boaters should be aware that because of the near full water levels on High Rock lake, passing underneath some bridges may be very difficult for boats with tops or high consoles.
For those braving the cold weather and tough water conditions, good numbers of crappie are being caught, with fish up to one pound common. Minnows generally are the No. 1 choice for most cold weather fishermen. Find suspended schools of crappie on drop-offs and submerged structure.
As the water clears, fishing will improve. Try various jigs in hot pink, yellow/white and black/green since all of them normally work well this time of year.
Some fishermen think because it’s cold ó even freezing cold ó that crappie will not bite.
This most definitely is not the case. I’ve watched fishermen casting around floating ice sheets and dragging out slab crappie during some of the coldest days of January and February.
If you are willing to brave the conditions, most often you will have the fishing to yourself, and limits of fish are not unusual most days.
Stripers biting on Badin
Striper fishing has produced some catches over 15 pounds on High Rock Lake, but the hot spot has been at Badin recently. One group of fishermen caught more than 24 one morning.
Look for feeding birds at the surface, and when these are not present, pay close attention to your sonar. Locate bait fish that are usually shad or blue back herring, and jig or cast plastics or large jigs. If fishing live bait, slow troll with the bait placed between 12-16 feet deep. Of course, this can change according to the depth of the water and the suspended fish.
Going for catfish
As winter progresses, most catfishing slows down, but on Badin Lake monster blue cats can be caught, with several hitting 40 pounds this past week. Although the best spots are closely guarded secrets, known only to a few, with a little scouting and a good sonar, most fisherman should be able to find active fish.
Look for isolated deep holes that are off the main channel. Often you will find several big fish piled into one small area. For bait, use live shad and fresh cut bait. Come rigged for trophy size fish, most rig rods with no less than 25 pound test line, with heavy action rods. Although the action may be slow, when you hook up, it can be a true monster. The current state record of 89 pounds was caught in Badin Lake on Nov. 25, 2006. Several fish weighing more than 60 pounds have been caught, but a 90-plus pounder is just waiting to be hauled in.
Plenty of trophy deer
Deer hunting has been great this season. Hunters across the area have bagged some real trophy deer. Local check-in stations have seen an increase of good mature bucks brought in, with hunters taking advantage of the liberal antlerless deer season in Rowan and Davidson counties.
Hunters who want to pack in a freezer of meat have started bagging their share of does, after feeding and letting them walk most of the season. As usual though, after a hot season of hunting, many deer start moving more at night, which can slow success rates.
The reported statewide deer harvest for 2008 was 176,297. That’s more than 4,300 increase from 2007.
In Rowan County, the reported harvest for 2008 was 2,534 deer, with an average of 4.03 antlered bucks harvested per square mile. This was an increase of more than 100 deer from 2007.
It appears as our state’s deer herd continues to grow, hunter opportunity and success increases.
Q: I have shot a deer and lost the trail, can I use a dog to track the deer?
A: No, in the central season part of the state is illegal to use dogs to take deer, which includes tracking them.
Q: Can I paddle a boat or drift and shoot waterfowl from a boat?
A: Yes, as long as you are not under way from the use of a motor. Check local regulations for your county to insure there are not prohibitions involving hunting from a boat.
Q: While hunting waterfowl during deer season, can I have buckshot in a separate ammo box or gun, in case I see a deer and want to shoot it?
A: No, it is unlawful to possess toxic shot, which includes most buckshot while waterfowl hunting.
Q: If I harvest a deer and validate my harvest report card, then use my cell phone to report the harvest, can I cut the deer in pieces before I leave the woods?
A: Yes, the carcass remains should be disposed of in a sanitary manner.
E-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.