Team Hooked Up took first place in the Nov. 5, 2022 Southeastern Catfish Club tournament out of Lake Wylie. The team, made up of David Aycoth and Colby Nance, pocketed $2480 for the win.
Aycoth and Nance brought a limit of 2 fish to the scaled totaling 70 pounds. Their bag was anchored by the Big Fish of the Tournament, which weighed 51.67 pounds and netted them another $900.
Team SBG took second place. Mitch Williams and Wyatt Williams won $1380, weighing in 60.62 pounds of fish. They also walked away with another $380 check for their 45.35-pound fish which took second place in the Big Fish award.
Third place went to Team Carolina Blues, made up of Joshua Coggins and Kyle Hefner. They weighed in a total of 58.55 fish, winning $820.
In fourth place, and winning $560 for 55.81 pounds was Team Whoppy Jaw’d — Micah Chappell and Jeremy Jackson.
Team Craig, made up of Casey, Larry and Luke Craig, won $280 for their bag weighing 51.66 pounds.
Ethan Gilliland arrowed the new N.C. state record tilapia in late July, 2022.
Ethan Gilliland of Mooresville, N.C. runs Blue Mountain Bowfishing, a bowfishing charter business. And he recently set the pending state record for tilapia.
Bowfishing records are kept by the Bowfishing Association of America. They currently list a 2.4-pound tilapia as the North Carolina state record. That fish was shot by Harold Brunner on Dec. 15, 2017. Gilliand’s tilapia, which he shot in late July 2022, weighed more than a pound heavier that Brunner’s.
The paperwork to put Gilliland’s fish on top for the Old North State has been submitted. Once approved, his fish will replace Brunner’s on the list.
Tilapia are not native to North Carolina, but have been introduced into numerous waterways across the state.
On a typical night of bowfishing, Gilliland’s clients usually shoot gar, carp and catfish. Taking a trip with him is a great way to experience the outdoors in a little bit of a different way. Bowfishing requires the right equipment and a boat that is correctly set up for it. Gilliland has all that is necessary to provide a safe, fun night of bowfishing. To book a trip with him, call 704-918-0454.
Click here to see a full list of bowfishing state and world records.
Catfish in the daytime, catfish at night. They’re biting all hours at Santee right now.
The summertime catfish report on the Santee Cooper lakes shows many blue cats being caught. Capt. Kyle Austin’s anglers are catching plenty of them at night, which helps beat the heat. But the daytime bite hasn’t been bad.
Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service has a two-part strategy for summertime cats on Santee. First thing in the morning, he likes to anchor down in fairly shallow water. He baits up with cut baitfish, casts out a spread of six to eight rods, sets the rods in the rod holders, then waits.
Wolfe suggests anglers leave the rods in the rod holders until the rod is doubled over. Many anglers try to set the hook, which he said is a mistake. The circle hooks he uses will do their job once the fish commits. And the action of his Catch the Fever rods coupled with the reel’s drag will allow the catfish to swim away long enough for the hook to embed itself in the corner of the fish’s mouth.
As the fish continues to swim away, the rod finally doubles over. Sometime the drag begins to sing, letting you know that a true fighter is on the line
As the sun gets up and the day begins to warm, the catfish leave the shallows, so Wolfe does too. He heads for deep water, usually on the main section of the Lower Lake. Here, he replaces his weights with Drifting Stix, then casts all his rods again. And once again they go in rod holder.
Now, Wolfe suggests his anglers kick back and watch the rod tips. As they drift over humps and deep holes, the bait is being presented to catfish of all sizes. When one takes the bait, you’ll know it quickly.
Fifteen new wildlife law enforcement officers were sworn in by the NCWRC on July 20, 2022.
Fifteen new NCWRC wildlife law enforcement officers were sworn in on July 20, 2022. These officers, commonly referred to as Game Wardens, completed their initial training, and now move on to 6 months of on-the-job training with veteran wildlife officers.
Once their field training is complete, the new officers will be assigned permanent duty stations across North Carolina.
The new officers are listed here in alphabetical order by their last name, along with their hometowns:
If you don’t mind sweating while you fish — and you will sweat here — you’ll find your share of stripers (and hybrids) willing to make it all worth it at Clarks Hill during the heat of summer.
While some days can provide that “catching them on back-to-back casts” action, it’s usually less of a frenzy than that. But you’ll have enough action to keep coming back. And speaking of sweating, you actually want it hot enough that you’ll be sweating profusely. That’s because the hotter it is, the more water they release from the Lake Russell Dam, cooling the waters of Clarks Hill enough that the baitfish and stripers stack up there.
This concentrates the fish into several hundred yards of the dam, where the stripers constantly patrol, chasing and slashing at schools of baitfish. Topwater lures shine here, and can make it a day to remember for anglers.
It’s okay to sleep late
This is also the type of fishing that doesn’t require getting up early, so forget about beating the heat by arriving at daybreak. It takes the noon sun to get it hot enough for them to open the gates at the dam, which provides more energy to all the air conditioners in the nearby towns. Opening those gates allows the water from the cool depths of Russell to pour in, dropping the water temperature significantly and turning the bite on like a light switch.
A good strategy is to get your boat in an eddy or if you’ve got one, hit the Spot Lock on your trolling motor to keep yourself in place. Now just watch the water all around you. If you sit in that one spot, schools will appear close enough to cast to, but you can also quickly motor yourself to a lot of other schools that are just out of casting range. Just make sure you don’t get too close to the school.
Walk-the-dog type lures are great here. Spooks, Sammys, Cane Walkers, Skitter Walks — you name it — whatever your favorite brand of walking lure is, it will work wonders here. Whopper Ploppers are also killer lures here, and you will catch your share either burning it straight back or pausing during your retrieve.
Small boats are fine here
Schools will appear for just a minute or two, then go back down. Many anglers simply keep topwater lures tied on, waiting for another school to surface. Casting blindly can also bring some fish up, so that’s always good to try. Another good option when the fish go down is to cast Rat-L-Traps, allow them to sink a few seconds, then start your retrieve. The bites come fewer with this method, but you’ll catch them often enough this way.
Spend a day here and you’ll quickly pick up on exactly where the striper schools usually appear. You’ll learn a little more each time you go. One of the best things about this lake is it’s easy to navigate, even in small boats. It’s a big lake, surface-acre wise, but it’s small in some ways. It’s narrow in most places, especially at the dam, where you can almost have a conversation from one side of the lake to the other.
Turtle hunting is a dying sport. And so is cleaning and cooking them. Get the most meat out of your cooters with these tips
It’s a bit of a dying sport, with dying recipes to go along with it. But cooter hunting is a lot of fun and can lead to great meals. Harkey’s Taxidermy in Vale, N.C. recently held a cooter contest to see who could catch the biggest snapping turtle. Click here to read about the competition.
But what good is catching a cooter if you don’t know how to clean it and cook it? Harkey’s came through there too, with a video that shows just how to get that snapper ready for the stew.
Hunters in North Carolina have six species of animals they can hunt year-round.
The most popular game animals in North Carolina — deer, turkeys, squirrels and waterfowl — have limited hunting seasons. But a handful are open year-round, at least on private lands throughout the Old North State. Some can even be hunted year-round at night.
So what’s open to North Carolina hunters right now, no matter what time of year you’re reading this? Let’s take a look.
Some folks are still surprised when they see an armadillo. And others think you’re lying or mistaken when you tell them you’ve seen one in North Carolina. But they are definitely in the state, and expanding throughout it every year. As of 2021, NCWRC reported confirmed observations of armadillos in 26 of North Carolina counties, with reports in 67 counties.
The majority of North Carolina’s armadillos live in the western and south central parts of the state. But they have also been observed as far east as Robeson County and as far north as Wake County.
Coyotes have been confirmed in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties. They are among the most adaptable animals in North America, changing their diets with whatever is available in their area throughout the year. Generally despised by hunters, their hardy nature and ability to survive are undeniable.
Coyote hunting is not only legal year-round, it’s also legal to hunt them at night in all but five of North Carolina’s counties (Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington). The use of electronic calls are also legal year-round for coyote hunters.
Coyotes were first brought to North Carolina illegally for use in fox pens prior to 1980. But they expanded into the state naturally from neighboring states since then.
Hunters can kill as many coyotes as they desire in North Carolina, which has no daily or yearly limit on the species. Learn more about the species here.
Wild hogs can also be hunted year-round in North Carolina. Hunters can use electronic calls and can hunt them at night.
Somewhat surprisingly, wild hogs were once protected as game animals, with yearly seasons intended to keep harvest numbers in check. That changed after 2011 due in part to the vast amount of destruction caused by the animals on agricultural and developed lands. The species also carries a number of diseases that are harmful to other animals and humans.
Although NCWRC encourages hunters to kill as many wild hogs as possible, the agency said recreational hunting has very little impact on their population. Trapping, on the other hand is much more effective.
Groundhogs are members — the largest members — of the squirrel family. They live very much unlike squirrels, however. They spend the majority of their time in underground burrows or crawling through open areas of land. They can, however climb trees when necessary and they are exceptionally good swimmers.
Also known as woodchucks, these animals do a lot of damage to agricultural crops and gardens, and they cause other damage by burrowing on landowner’s properties. The biggest populations of groundhogs live in the western, northwestern, and northern part of the state, but they are present in almost every county.
The name woodchuck, by the way, has nothing to do with the animals’ propensity for either chucking or gnawing on wood. It is derived from the Native American name “wuchak” which is what they called this animal.
Woodchucks can be hunted year-round, with no daily or yearly limits. Click here to learn more about the species.
Nutria are often misidentified as groundhogs, beavers and muskrats. They live mostly along the banks of marshes, rivers and swampy areas. They are established throughout eastern North Carolina, with the biggest populations along the coastal regions.
These animals, which are known as semi-aquatic rodents, can turn a saltwater marsh into open water quickly, destroying the habitat that many other species rely on. They feed primarily on the roots of aquatic grasses and plants. They also sometimes turn to a diet of mussels, crustaceans, rice, corn and cabbage, where they find it available.
Nutrias were brought to Hatteras Island in 1941 to control noxious plant species. They quickly devoured those plants, then went about destroying all the native plants in the area too. Along they way, they bred to the point of their population expanding and becoming uncontrollable.
The striped skunk, a member of the weasel family, is known for spraying its foul-smelling musk when frightened. About the size of a large house cat, skunks are prevalent throughout most of North Carolina, with the exception of the Coastal Plain region where they are rarely observed.
Skunks are rarely seen by people because they spend most days sleeping, moving about during nighttime hours. They prefer places that feature a mixture of open fields, rocky areas, wooded ravines, woods and thick brush.
Skunks mostly eat insects, worms, small rodents, small berries and acorns. They will also eat vegetables and bird eggs.
Pay attention to saltwater ponds while on vacation — they often hold big flounder.
Whether you live along the Carolina coastline or are just visiting for vacation, don’t overlook the saltwater ponds that are abundant in some areas. Many vacation resorts feature ponds that either visibly connect to the inshore waters or have a series of hidden culverts that bring water (and fish) into and out of the ponds.
Many of these ponds hold flounder. Some of these fish get into the ponds and never leave, gorging on baitfish every time the tide flows in. So even though the waters are relatively small, some hold big flounder.
The typical baits work here — finger mullet and mud minnows on Carolina rigs are great. But bucktail jigs are just as good when worked slowly and methodically. Many anglers stand on the bank and cast toward the middle, but those in the know make long casts that land much closer to the shoreline, then work the bait or lure slowly as it runs parallel to the sea wall or bank. Just like when fishing a freshwater pond for bass, few fish live in the middle of a pond, with most constantly patrolling the shallower water near the banks.
This type of fishing is good because it doesn’t take up a whole day, so if you’re on a family vacation, you can do it while grilling or while other family members take showers for a night out. Or you can do it as a family without having to hire a charter or dedicate a certain amount of time to it.
It’s laid-back fishing that can pay big dividends. Try it next time you head to the coast.
North Carolina’s saltwater fishing report is a hot one.
Anglers along the North Carolina coastline have been catching a variety of species of fish for the past few weeks. The fishing forecast looks to be just as good for the immediate future.
This past Saturday, the fishing fleet out of Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo dodged the tropical storm, and their anglers brought back yellowfin tuna, dolphinfish, wahoo, sea bass, and a pile of tilefish. They also released two billfish — a blue marlin from COUNTRY GIRL and a sailfish from OBSESSION. The day before, it was much of the same on the meatfish, and a white marlin was released from HAPHAZARD. Nearshore anglers out of Manteo caught lots of Spanish mackerel and ribbonfish.
In the Williamston area, anglers fishing with Capt. Scooter Lilley of CWW Inshore Charters have been slaying the speckled trout in the past week to 10 days. With breaks for stripers, catfish and largemouth bass in the freshwater, Lilley’s saltwater trips have put limits of specks in the boat numerous times. They’ve released a lot of trout (40 in one trip for two anglers) and kept some for the fryer. They’ve also caught some redfish, and an occasional catch-and-release flounder.
In the Atlantic Beach area, anglers are catching everything from cobia, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, red drum, sheepshead and speckled trout. Many reports of catch-and-release flounder, including a 28-incher caught by youth angler Tucker Kane, have also been coming in to the folks at Chasin’ Tails Outdoors Bait & Tackle.
Anglers in Hatteras are having a field day with a variety of fish. Red drum on the beaches have made up many reports coming into the Red Drum Tackle Shop. Madison Thume caught a 33-inch cobia from the beach. Other reports include speckled trout, blues, sea mullet and Spanish. One angler also recently caught a 3-pound, 7-ounce pompano that he weighed in at Red Drum. Sand fleas and shrimp have been the bait of choice for many anglers here.
The fishing is good, so get out there and enjoy it!
South Carolina anglers and hunters will love this new app from SCDNR!
Anglers and hunters in the Palmetto State need to have the appropriate licenses for whatever fishing or hunting they’re doing. Purchasing them used to be a hassle. You had to find a store that sold them, then fill out the paperwork (by hand, like cavemen!), then haul that little folded up scrap of paper in your wallet, just hoping to never lose or ruin it.
Then came online purchasing. That was much easier, but you still had to wait on the license to come in the mail. After a while, they allowed you to print the license from your home printer, as long as you had one.
But now, it’s even easier. SCDNR now has the Go Outdoors South Carolina App, which you can download to your phone. The app allows you to view your current hunting and fishing license, apply for lottery hunts, register and renew your watercraft, report turkey harvests through SC Game Check, upgrade to a hard license (sort of like a credit card), and purchase SCDNR gear.
But that’s not all. The app also has a “Digital Backpack” that has loads of information, like tide charts, sunrise/sunset times, feeding times, and the Hunter’s Toolbox, which shows real-time harvest data for the state. You can also find all the regulations, boat ramps, and a whole host of other information.
Whether you’re an Apple or Android user, hit up your play store and download the Go Outdoors South Carolina app today.