Your Best Spring Fishing in North Carolina
March 20, 2014
There's never been a better time for spring fishing in North Carolina, so grab your favorite rod and reel and hit the water! Here are the places you won't want to miss.
Sutton Lake has aggressive trophy management regulations that help it produce huge bass. Special regulations prohibits keeping bass from Dec. 1 through March 1.
The best month for catching trophy bass is March. Anglers often catch 5-pounders and occasionally land a 10-pounder from the warmer part of the lake at the boat ramp. The boat ramp enters the lake near the power plant's hot water discharge ditch.
Bass eat small baitfish, exploding from the surface as they feed. Topwater lures are therefore not out of the question in March. However, more anglers rely on swimbaits, floating stick minnows, crankbaits and Carolina rigs with soft plastic worms or lizards. Anyone dragging an Alabama rig should experience exciting bass action.
Atlantic bonito make a grand showing every spring, but the run has become inconsistent the past few years. The bright spot has been the Topsail Beach and New River Inlet area.
The fish have stripes and are good to eat fried or grilled, when compared to false albacore, which have swirled markings and are not so good to eat, except for dark fish lovers who like sushi.
Atlantic bonito look like fumbled footballs when they are chasing baitfish, turning summersaults and performing other aerial acrobatics. They move fast, strike hard and put up a dogged fight.
Anglers should look for fish at the inlet, over live bottoms and at artificial reefs. Seabirds diving and fish boiling the water are dead giveaways.
Trolling flashy spoons is a sure-fire way to catch Atlantic bonito. However, anglers also catch them with jigs and flies.
Cape Fear River
The Cape Fear River hosts the best spring run of American shad in the state. The timing and strength of the run depends on flow conditions, so the best fishing may occur in April or May.
What is so exciting about this year's fishing is the reopening of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp at Lock and Dam No. 1 Park. The ramp was closed two years during installation of a rock arch rapid over the dam to allow fish to reach historic spawning areas.
Another new feature at the ramp is a N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission fishing pier, which allows anglers who do not have boats to fish for shad.
Anglers in boats must heed new warning buoys because the rock hazard area extends farther downstream than in the past. The best way to fish is by anchoring a boat downstream of the dam at an eddy. Anglers use medium spinning tackle to land the fish, which can weigh several pounds. Shad put up a strong fight and leap high, putting a strain on lines of less than 10-pound test. The best lures are small jigs with inch-long curly tailed trailers and shad darts.
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