March 20, 2014
By Mike Marsh
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.
Don't forget to share your best fishing photos with us on Camera Corner for your chance to win free gear!
TRITON 21 TrX
Triton's 21 TrX measures 21 feet and features a 95-inch beam. The bow has a 20 percent larger fishing area than last year's model. A bow panel is ready for flush-mount electronics up to 12 inches, and has an organizer for pliers and baits. Stows 24 rods in the bow, 10 more in the center locker and another 14 in the port side. tri-tonboats.com.
The YUMphibian creature bait has two small swimming arms at the top, a pair of longer curl tails at the end, and two big 'flappers ' at the mid-point. Pitch it, flip it, or work it deep. Customize by pinching off appendag-es to create less water disturbance for finicky or pressured fish. 4 1/2, 5 1/4 and 6 inches in 10 color options.
SUZUKI DF15A/20A EFI
Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
SHAKESPEARE MICRO SERIES
Shakespeare's new Micro Series Combos provide lightweight actions and are suited perfectly for panfish. They come in spinning and spin-casting models with high-quality components and each is spooled with Stren monofilament.
STRATOS 186 VLO
MSRP: Pricing starts at $22,195.
The 186 VLO measures in at 18 feet 9 inches with an 89-inch beam. The boat is built on a fiberglass, foam-filled hull and weighs in at 1,450 pounds and can hold a payload of 1,320 pounds. Maximum room is devoted to rod and tackle storage and fishing deck. VLO comes with a cus-tom-built, single axle trailer with submersible lights, a swing jack and a swing-away tongue.
RANGER'S ALUMINUM BOATS
Ranger Boat is introducing a line of aluminum boats called The Tourna-ment Series. There are three models:
€¢ RT 178 sports a 17-foot, 8-inch bass configuration.
€¢ RT 178C has a similar platform (17 feet, 8 inches) but designed for crap-pie and multispecies angling.
€¢ RT188, an 18-foot, 8-inch bass de-sign rated for 115 horsepower.
Rapala is hoping the new Scatter Rap Series lures and their 'evasive action ' will be as popular as the original 'wounded minnow ' style action that the company is famous for. The new lure has a 'Scatter Lip ' that creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweep-ing action. Ideal for multispecies gamefish, the Scatter Rap Series is available in 14-16 classic and new color patterns. Baits 5- to 9-feet deep.
YUM's F2 MightEE Worm is 10 1/2-inches long, has an arrowhead shaped bulge toward the end and is made for big bass. Because the worm tapers to a smaller circumference before blow-ing back out to the bulge, the tail sec-tion wags back-and-forth in the water with each breath of current.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
HAVOC JUICE WORM
MSRP,Package of 12 Juice Worms $3.49.
Designed by Boyd Duckett, the new Havoc Juice Worm gives anglers more action which produces more strikes than any other worms on the market. The slim ribbed 8-inch body has a long, flexible ribbon tail that produces a unique swimming action. 20 colors.
G-Loomis'Jig and Worms Serie GLX rods offer sensitivity to feel the bite and the power to control the fish. GLX models feature Fuji Titanium SIC guides, along with a new proprie-tary reel seat and split-grip handle configurations.
Crestliner's VT19 has a .100 gauge aluminum hull, is 19 feet long with a 91-inch beam. Rated for 150 horse-power and has a top speed of 60 mph. 1,085 pounds and a maximum pay-load of 1,300 pounds. An elevated starboard console has a windscreen, switch panel, gauges and in-dash Lowrance depth finder. 30-gallon aerated livewell. Motor Guide trolling motor.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
CAROLINA SKIFF DLV SERIES
MSRP, $18,178-$22,950, no motor, trailer.
Carolina Skiff's DLV Series is an unsinkable, all-fiberglass, modified-V hull designed for offshore or shallow-water fishing. The series has five siz-es, from the 17-foot DLV 178 with a 90-horsepower outboard to the 25-foot DLV 258 that powers up with a 200hp. High-speed bilge pump, cush-ion seat set, built-in cooler and plenty of storage.
ABU GARCIA REVO SX
Abu Garcia's Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
BERKLEY JAR BAIT FOLDER
Anglers who use jar baits know it's a pain to carry more than a few. Berk-ley now has two Jar Bait Folders to keep the baits at hand and make them easy to transport. Model 1170 holds 10 jars. Model 1490 holds 16. Both have various pockets and a D-ring for pliers.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.