Improved weather across North Carolina the past few days brought with it fantastic catches of big blue catfish, including a 100-pounder.
This lunker was boated and released at Jordan Lake near Raleigh by Zakk Royce, a college student and guide who on Dec. 21 reeled in the state record for the species, a 105 pound fish, at Lake Gaston.
On Saturday, Lake Gaston yielded a whopper of a blue catfish catch to new guide Austin Sartin of Burlington and a companion. They boated and released blues of 70 and 65 pounds, plus four in the 30-pound range, three weighing in the 20s and five smaller ones.
Dieter Melhorn of Gaston County caught and freed a 55-pounder at Lake Wylie.
Tennessean Angie “Stormy” Bird, fishing Monday at Lake Norman with her friend and area guide Ty Mathis, caught a 52-pound blue catfish on 10-pound test line. “She did a terrific job of fighting that fish, babying it on the relatively light line for 30 minutes before I could net it,” said Mathis. This lunker also was released.
And Donnie Butler of Hamlet boated a blue cat of 44.8 pounds in a tournament on Badin Lake. Tom Higgins
It’s time to obtain wild turkey tags in S.C.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has advised hunters planning to take part in the state’s spring wild turkey season that it’s time to obtain the required tags.
For the second straight year, handwritten tags will not be available over the counter from local vendors. They are available at agency offices in Charleston, Clemson, Columbia, Florence and York. Or they can be ordered online at the department’s website, dnr.sc.gov/turkeytags.
All hunters, regardless of age, must possess a set of tags. Harvested birds must be tagged before being moved from the point of kill.
Season dates in South Carolina for private lands is March 20-May 5. Hunting on wildlife management areas begins April 1 and also ends May 5. The statewide bag limit is three gobblers per season, with no more than two to be taken in a single day.
▪ A painting of an Atlantic brant, by Floridian Garrett Jacobs, has been chosen to grace the 2016 N.C. Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and print. The artwork depicts a single brant standing in cordgrass with the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse shrouded in fog in the background. Jacobs was among 31 artists from 18 states to submit entries in this year’s competition.
▪ A wide-ranging effort to conserve an endangered species of fish, the sicklefin redhorse, is to be undertaken in Western North Carolina. The fish is found only in Cherokee, Clay, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties, plus Towns County, Ga. Cooperating in the effort: Duke Energy, the Tennessee Valley Authority, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “The sicklefin redhorse once provided an important component of Cherokee subsistence,” said Mike LaVoie, manager of the tribe’s fish and wildlife program.
Catches of the week
▪ A mixed limit of five largemouth and spotted bass weighing 15 pounds, 11 ounces by David Wright of Lexington to win a Bass Fishing League tournament at Lake Norman. Wright’s triumph earned him $5,965. Russell Hoyle of Newton finished second with 14-13 and earned $2,753. Travis Ruff of Connelly Springs took third place with 14 1/2 pounds and won $1,636.
▪ A 431-pound bluefin tuna off Oregon Inlet by anglers trolling from the Fintastic with skipper Dick Harris.
▪ A 225-pound bluefin tuna off Oregon Inlet Chris Phillips, fishing from the Fin Planner.
▪ A “Carolina Slam” of flounder, red drum and speckled trout in backwaters at Sunset Beach by area anglers Brandon Sauls and Mark Stacy.
▪ Three catfish weighing a total of 73.6 pounds by Donnie Butler and Bill Suite to win an NC-CATS tournament at Badin Lake. Alan and Lynn Long finished second with 55.6 pounds.