C-STUDENT misses $739,500 by 30 pounds

The 72-foot Viking C-STUDENT leads the way in the Heaviest Blue Marlin category after Day 1 of the 2023 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament with their 470.2-pound blue marlin.

They missed the tournament’s coveted Fabulous Fisherman Award, which goes to the first team in each tournament to weigh a blue marlin weighing 500 pounds or better. Another 30 pounds on their prized catch would have put $739,500 in their coffers. They did pocket a not-too-shabby $25,000 for their catch

Two other boats brought blue marlin to the scales at the Morehead City event, but neither made the tournament minimum of 400 pounds.

Hunter Megarity was the angler who reeled in the big fish.

Release Division

BUILDER’S CHOICE, a 64-foot Jarrett Bay based out of New Bern, leads the Release Division at the end of Day 1. They tallied 925 points on the day, releasing two blue marlin and one white marlin.

WAVE PAVER, a 75-foot Bayliss, is in second place in the Release Division after racking up 800 points with two blue marlin releases. They also captured the Daily First Release prize, winning $5000.

The 57-foot Sunny Briggs BUDDY ROWE, ported in Charleston, currently sits in third place with 800 points, releasing two blue marlin.

Non-sonar Release Division

BILL COLLECTOR leads the Non-sonar Release Division with 400 points, followed by numerous other boats with the same score.

Anglers will have lines back in the water tomorrow morning. For full coverage, including live updates, set your internet browser to http://www.thebigrock.com

NC’s new striped bass regulations begin June 1

North Carolina’s saltwater anglers will have a new slot limit for striped bass beginning June 1, 2023. The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries said they are taking this action to comply with the Atlantic State’s Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board’s recommendations.

Starting on June 1, anglers will have a creel limit of one striped bass that is between 28 and 31 inches total length, per person, per day.

This new regulation replaces the 28- to 35-inch slot length.

Another requirement still in place is for anglers to use non-offset circle hooks when using live or natural bait. It will also remain illegal to gaff striped bass.

The ASMFC’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board recently called for emergency action calling for the 31-inch maximum size limit for striped bass fisheries from Maine to North Carolina. Their concern comes about because of the magnitude of the 2022 recreational harvest across the Atlantic coast, which was almost double the harvest of 2021.

For more information about the ASMFC’s striped bass plan, click here.

SCDNR busts offshore poachers

While doing a routine inspection and safety patrol on South Carolina’s Black River recently, SCDNR Region 4 Officers Dozier and Hering inspected a boat returning from an offshore fishing trip. They found the five anglers on board had way more fish than the law allows.

The Game Wardens cited the offenders for having exceeded the limit of Vermilion snapper by 79 fish. They also had two undersized red porgy, and were cited for two boating violations.

The SCDNR seized the fish and donated them.

NC Delayed Harvest Trout Waters open June 3

On June 3, 2023, the NCWRC will open 36 bodies of Delayed Harvest Trout Waters, including 34 streams and two lakes. The Delayed Harvest season will run June 3 through Sept. 30.

On that first day, it’s all about the kids from 6 a.m. to 11:59, when these waters will only be open to youth under 18-years-old. At noon, it opens to all licensed anglers.

During the Delayed Harvest season, anglers can keep up to seven trout per day with no minimum size limits. They can also use any type of bait and any type of fishing gear. Fly-fishing gear not required!

To find the list of Delayed Harvest Trout Waters, along with regulations and trout maps, visit ncwildlife.org/trout.

Youth angler dies on Wateree River

According to the SCDNR and the Kershaw County (SC) Coroner’s office, a 15-year-old from Camden was killed as the result of a boat crash on the Wateree River at approximately 10:16 p.m. on Friday, May 5, 2023.

The crash involved two boats. The teenager was in one boat, which was clipped by another boat near the Pine Tree Creek area of the river. The passengers on the two boats were all friends, and they were all fishing during the outing. Both boats were moving when the crash occurred.

No foul play is suspected and officials said it does not appear any horseplay was involved. The coroner’s office and SCDNR have not released the victims name because he was a minor.

Pee Dee River angler found dead

Mark O’Neal of Rockingham, NC was found deceased on May 2, 2023 after rescuers located him and his capsized boat on the Pee Dee River below Blewett Falls Dam.

The 61-year-old angler went fishing on April 29. When he did not return home, a search and rescue operation began. Rescuers located his dog alive on May 1, but found O’Neal’s lifeless body the next day. They also found his boat.

SC Game Wardens bust pier fishing poachers

When SCDNR received a call recently about two pier anglers keeping undersized fish, as well as an illegal number of fish, Region 4 Officers Thompkins and Williams headed to the pier and began investigating. This led to two alleged poachers being fined for five undersized fish, and for having 67 fish over the legal limit.

Williams counted a total of 41 Spanish mackerel and 18 bluefish from one suspect. Thompkins found another suspect with 23 Spanish mackerel and 21 bluefish.

Both suspected poachers now have pending charges and will be dealt with by the courts.

When cases like this occur, people always ask “what happens to the fish?” It is donated to local food banks and shelters, so it doesn’t go to waste.

Don’t forget, if you see illegal activities in the outdoor world, you can report those violations anonymously to Operation Game Thief in South Carolina by calling 800-922-5431, and in North Carolina by calling 800-662-7137.

Becca Toney bags big gobbler

Becca Toney of Forest City, NC had a big day in the turkey woods on April 25, 2023. Here’s the story, in her own words:

I’ve always had health issues. I started having seizures in 2018 after a AVM cranial bleed. Ever since, I’ve dealt with on going seizures. 

I sat through a thunderstorm on Tuesday for this guy. After the storm lightened up, I heard a gobble up the hill. As quietly as I could, I eased up the hill and sat down by a tree.

I heard him gobble, and I climbed up the mountain just a little further and sat down again. I heard him close by. I took my slate call out and starting calling for him. Next thing I know, I heard loud crunching coming through the woods. That lasted for about two minutes.

I slowly turned around to find four baby fawns. After looking at them, they spooked and ran off. I thought my turkey would’ve ran off too, but he didn’t. I kept calling and he kept coming closer.

As I saw his head poke out through the brush, I turned my safety off. After about a minute, he was out in the open and I took my shot and got him.

My adrenaline was rushing. After picking him up and hauling him about a mile to the nearest house, I got a good friend, Michael Whitaker, to come out and take some photos. I sat down, exhausted and dehydrated, and slipped into a seizure before I knew it.

Michael and my boyfriend David, who drove to me as quick as possible, took great care of me and kept me high in my spirits after my seizure ended by reminding me about the gigantic Tom I killed. 10-inch beard and almost 2-inch spurs. It is a day I’ll never, ever forget.

–Becca Toney; Forest City, NC

NCWRC invokes emergency powers due to CWD

On April 11, 2023, the NCWRC invoked emergency powers to deal with new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease among the whitetail deer herd in two new counties. According to testing done on hunter-harvested deer from North Carolina’s 2022 hunting season, Cumberland County and Wilkes County are infected with the deadly disease.

As part of the emergency powers, the Commission has named several new counties (or parts of) as Primary or Secondary Surveillance Areas. 

In the northwestern section of NC, these new designations will apply in Alleghany, Alexander, Ashe, Guilford, Iredell, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin counties. They will also apply in several eastern NC counties: Bladen, Cumberland, Barnett, Hoke, Robeson and Sampson. 

Davie and Forsyth counties will continue as Secondary Surveillance Areas, carrying over from 2022.

So what exactly does that mean for these counties? Mainly, four areas of interest:

Prohibits fawn rehabilitation

Governs the transportation of deer carcasses and carcass parts

Prohibits placement of minerals and salt licks to congregate wildlife at any time

Prohibits the placement of bait, food, or food products to congregate wildlife outside of hunting season

The public can make comments on these rules through April 28 via the agency’s online Comment Portal or by emailing regulations@ncwildlife.org or by snail mail to:

Rulemaking Coordinator, NCWRC

1701 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699-1700

For more information about CWD, click here.

NC mallard limit increase

The NCWRC has released the season dates, bag limits and other regulations for the Old North State’s 2023-24 waterfowl seasons, along with the same information for doves and other webless migratory game birds, and for the extended falconry seasons.

Click here for a complete list of those dates, which will also be published in North Carolina’s 2023-24 Regulations Digest later this year.

Hunters will notice very little variations for the majority of season dates, but two limit increases are important and notable.

  1. The daily bag limit has been increased from two mallards (only one hen) to four mallards (only two hens).
  2. The daily bag limit for Canada geese or white-fronted geese in the state’s Northeast Canada Goose Hunt Zone has been increased from one to two.

If you’d like to see more information on North Carolina’s migratory game birds, click here.