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Road work improves access to stretch of Pee Dee River

Outdoor enthusiasts, including anglers and hunters, now have much easier access to a portion of the Pee Dee River in Richmond County.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently upgraded a 2-mile stretch of road that previously was frequently impassable.

According to the agency, the work in the Diggs Tract of the Pee Dee River Game Land was undertaken from Old Cheraw Highway to the river, creating a route that can be used by all vehicles in most weather conditions.

Additionally, a boating area has been created, affording the only public access to the river between U.S. Highway 74 near Rockingham and Cheraw, S.C. The site includes a concrete ramp with floating dock.

The Wildlife Commission acquired the relatively remote, 1,665-acre Diggs Tract from Progress Energy (now Duke Energy) in 2009. Previously, the only river access was via an old logging road that led to an earthen ramp. Neither was usable during poor weather conditions.

“Improving access to this area was a priority for us because it supports some of the better wetland, stream and bottomland hardwood habitats in the area,” said Jeff Marcus, supervisor of the commission’s Piedmont Wildlife Diversity arm.

The Diggs Tract holds excellent populations of deer, wild turkey and other game species.

There are very good fishing opportunities in the river. The Pee Dee is not dammed between the Diggs area and the Atlantic Ocean, so species including striped bass and American shad make upstream spawning runs in the spring as far as the Blewett Falls Dam near Lilesville.

The Cole Foundation, which provides grants for projects in Richmond County, helped fund the commission’s work to open up the tract. Observer News Services

Anglers prevail despite cold and wind

Participants in two fishing tournaments at Lake Norman boated good catches despite poor conditions last Saturday.

•  Lonnie White and Phil Leonard of Stanley weighed in two catfish scaling 62.39 pounds to win the NC-Cats season opener.

The temperature when 23 teams began fishing was 22 degrees and with 20-mph wind gusts. The thermometer never reached above 42 while the anglers were on the water.

Chris Knox of Hudson and Josh Rector of Hickory finished second with two cats weighing 48.28 pounds. Eric and Marya Jenkins of Catawba were third with 44.75 pounds. Next came Justin Barger and Lacie Holbroke of Conover with 41.34 pounds.

The White/Leonard duo caught the event’s biggest fish, a blue of 48.39 pounds.

•  Scott Hamrick and Chuck Poovey of Denver paired to win a Team Pro Bass tourney with five fish weighing 16.35 pounds.

The runner-up duo was Kenneth Stamey and Jerry Lineburger of Lincolnton with a catch of 15.85. Third place went to Kevin Toller and Rod Lambert of Statesville with 15 pounds even.

Best fish boated was a bass of 5.15 pounds weighed in by John Elliott and Jason Padgett of Marion. Tom Higgins

Catches of the week

•  A 10-pound red drum in the Nags Head surf by Maggie Simmons of Kill Devil Hills.

•  Eight red drum in the surf at Oregon Inlet on Tuesday by local angler Denny Bomar. The fish were released.

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