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Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Yadkin River Slam

October of '09 Steve, Jim and myself made a canoe trip down a 5 mile section of the yadkin river. I had fished the yadkin before but not much. I usually fish the Yadkin down near the Uwharrie and a few times up near Kerr scott Lake. We dropped off the boats at about 10 am and I stayed with them while Jim and Steve took a car downstream. While I was waiting on them I started casting a spinnerbait from the bank. Almost immediately a smallmouth of at least 4 lbs nailed it!.....But, I did not get a good hook set. I then switched to a tube and was rewarded with this spotted bass.
Finally Steve and Jim returned and we launched. Steve and myself in my old town 158 and Jim in his kayak. Immediately we started getting hits. A 3 1/2 lb smallie nailed my spinnerbait. This time I was ready and set the hook hard. Here is 2/3 of the yadkin river slam. Spotted bass was 1/3 and now I had 2/3 of the slam.
Well, now all I needed was a Largemouth. We proceeded to catch a lot of smallies and spots. I probably caught 8 smallies and just as many spots but, that largemouth bite was not showing up.

When we put in it was cool and the action was good with spinnerbaits and tubes. As the day warmed, the action really picked up by throwing buzzbaits. Steve was killing them with a hart's buzzer. It didn't take me long to decide to switch. Just a little ways downstream we got out of the shoal habitat and got into some slower water. HMMMM, looks like largemouth water I thought. A few minutes later Bam!!!! and I was indeed rewarded with this largemouth which completed my Yadkin River Slam.!
It was a great day on the water. Lots of fish caught. Smallies and spots by all and the lone largemouth I caught. We also saw 5 bald eagles playing in the sky which was a sight and lots of herons and a few ducks. Also a big thanks to Jim for being our guide today.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Roanoke Bass .....The forgotten Bass

What is a Roanoke Bass? Well a Roanoke Bass is a cousin to the Rock bass, Shadow bass, and the Ozark Bass. To all but a very few they look the same. Except 2 things, 1 the Roanoke bass gets bigger and 2, whereas the others are known for being lazy fighters, the Roanoke is a brawler on the line.

Where are they Found??. They were first recognized from the Roanoke river in Virginia(hence their name) and then found out to be in the Tar and Neuse drainage's in North Carolina. Today you will not usually find these fish in the bigger waters as they are now too turbid and/or polluted. They have vanished from some of these major rivers and their tributaries due to what I believe are changes to their environment, Dams and other man made causes. Their biggest enemy now is the introduction of Rock bass to their waters. Oh, Where are they found? I could list a few then everyone would go there and put a lot of pressure on them so I will list everywhere I know them to be. This is not exact as there are surely other places. As I said I could list a few places but then these places may get a lot of pressure so that is why I have chose to list everywhere I have known them to be.

Here we go

1. Roanoke Basin..... Nottoway, stoney creek, Meherrin, Blackwater (both), Pigg, Smith(above Philpott & from the NC line to Eden), Dan, Towne Creek, Falling river, Otter river and possibly a few others. Almost forgot, how could I almost forget that they are in the Roanoke River !!!!

2. Tar Basin....Tar river, Fishing Creek, Swift Creek, Little Fishing Creek

3. Neuse Basin...... Eno, Little, Flat, 2nd Little river, Mill Creek

4. Cape Fear Basin. Introduced.....Deep River, Brush Creek, Richland Creek, Rockfish Creek (one of the previous state records was caught in rockfish creek)

5. Yadkin Basin. Introduced Uwharrie, Little , and a few tributaries of Lake Tillery

I first encountered the Roanoke in the Eno River back in the 70's.

Here is a picture of a winter NC Roanoke.

and a spring caught Roanoke

Here's a Virginia Redeye

Here are some of the lures I use to catch the Roanoke

Here is a Roanoke from the Uwharrie...never caught any lunkers there,  but ones this size are fairly common.

In the spring, summer and early fall I usually start off with a mepps or a small topwater bait and target Roanoke's around boulders sticking out of the water. Unlike other fish Roanoke's will often be found in the fast water around these boulders instead of the slack areas. If not there I will then target the eddies and slack areas behind rocks. They also can be found in deep water areas and under these conditions i usually start throwing a topwater bait and if no hits i sometimes go to a 4" worm. Roanoke's can be caught on practially on anything a bass will hit and for the bigger Roanoke's you should use a bigger bait. In the winter you should fish deep holes slow and with small curlytail grubs , 4' worms, or 3 inch tube jigs fished real slow.

Ideally Roanoke's are found in the upper part of our Piedmont streams, but I have seen them in the coastal plain with cypress trees and knees sticking out of the water.

Roanoke's will usually be around 8-10 inches but they are out there 1 lb plus. I have caught them up to 1.8 lbs and I will be lucky to catch one bigger than that.......note: I was up in Virginia a few years ago and was in a local hunting and fishing store. On the table in the store were several albums of customers catches and hunting successes. I was causally flipping through several of these and kept seeing the same guy with Roanoke's of 2lbs plus!......some were even pushing 3 lbs.....wow!!!! They made my 1.8 lber look puny. There use to be reports of them getting to 4 lbs though now that is unlikely with the degraded habitat. I have the gentleman's name and have tried to phone him but I have been unsuccessful. I have found out where he lives and next time I am up there I am going to stop by his house. Maybe I can get a few photos to publish. (the store is now gone and who knows where those pictures went)

Also see http://mackinncblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Roanoke%20Bass
The Roanoke is defiantly one of my favorite fishes to pursue and anything over a pound will be a battle. Good luck Mack

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How and where to catch Poor Mans Tarpon

My first experience with poor mans tarpon was on the Roanoke river at Weldon, NC. My in-laws live about 1 mile from the river so I naturally fish it a lot when I am there. My first Hickory Shad I caught in 1990 or so right there on the Roanoke.  Since then I have caught Hickories in the Tar, Neuse,  Fishing Creek, and the Cape Fear. I also have started to pursue American shad. I caught my first American in the Santee river at Wilsons landing in about 1995 or so. I was on a catfish trip and late one evening I took a trip to the landing and was surprised to see shad being caught. The Santee is probably the 2nd best place to catch Americans . I have also caught them in the Neuse, Cape Fear, Tar and 1 other place I will not mention.

When do you fish for Hickory's? ......I have found the best months to fish for Hickories is March and 2/3 of April . I have caught them as early as February 17th at a water temperature of 50 deg. and as late as April 20th at a temp of 60 deg. ****Note- 2018 I caught one on February the 11th making that the earliest I have caught them.*****  I have also caught them in water as cold as 45 deg but that was in March after a cold snap.

Where to go for Hickory's?
Roanoke River- Weldon
Tar River-  Rocky Mount , Tarboro
Fishing creek
Neuse River- Ramp Hwy 70 Kinston
Contentnea creek,
Cape Fear river and the NE Cape Fear.
Cashie River- Windsor,NC
Maple Cypress Road- Craven Co,

When to fish for American's ?... I have found the best months to fish for American shad is Mid-march to early may. The Americans seen to run a little later and stay a little longer. I have seen two schools of Americans in June but I did not catch anything. I have caught them as early as March 10th(Santee River) and as late as mid-May.. Most of the Americans that I have caught have been in April and early May.

Where to go for Americans?  ....
Tar River- Battle Park Rocky Mount, Tarboro
Neuse river- Milburnie Dam, Boat Ramp in Kinston
Cape Fear- Lock # 1,
Pee Dee river- Below Blewett Falls Dam
Santee river- Wilson Landing

 I would say that the first dam going upstream is a given for shad fishing. Check out most any "first" dam on a river that feeds the Atlantic and it is probably going to have shad there in early spring.  Other not so subtle barriers will hold shad. Example is Weldon Falls on the Roanoke. Though lots of fish go up over the falls , many stay right below it.

Other spots to look at are any creek that enters the river. Shad will sometimes be either right below the entrance or right in it.

I am going to list some spots that are pretty much well known. Shad are fairly easy to catch at all of these.

 Wilson Dam on the Santee or the re-diverson dam. Note. The Shad here will mostly go up whichever one of these has the most flow. If more water is being released from Wilson dam the fish will hang a right and go up the Santee. If more water is being released from the Re-Diversion Dam then they will head up the Re-Diversion Canal

Below is the Re-diversion Dam and the canal below it

Note- no boats or fishing from the bank is allowed above the railroad bridge.

Below is the Lake Marion Dam and the Santee river below it. Also note that above the boat ramp where the river makes as hard 90 degree bend to the right is cabled off so you cannot fish past it or boat past it when headed up towards the dam.

Blewett falls dam on the Pee Dee. Fish right at the Pump house along the railing. The current is so strong there that the traditional rig of two darts or jigs is not used. Usually they put a weight on the bottom and have jigs above the weight and let the rig sit in the water off of the rail and wait for a bite.

 Lock #1 on the Cape Fear.

Milburnie Dam on the Neuse      **********DAM DEMOLISHED FALL 2017**************

This dam was demolished In the Fall of 2017 .   You can still catch shad here but time will tell how many go past the old Dam Site.

 Rocky Mt.  Mill dam on the Tar. You can bank fish from the Ramp to the next yellow pin.

2  spots east of Rocky Mount

This spot is called "The Pipe"    it is where the pipe from the  waste water  treatment plant dumps into the Tar River.  This is a good spot but limited room to cast .    Some Big American Shad are caught here. 

Just a little farther East on Swift Creek

This is a good spot as well but again there are limited spots depending on how many people are here.

Weldon, NC River Falls Park
One of the  The best spots(the best probably) I know for catching shad is to stand just above the boat ramp at Weldon and usually  from March to mid April you can catch all you want there. You can catch them from the ramp up to the Falls

Downtown Windsor, NC on The Cashie River     is also a good spot for Hickories

Ramp area at Hwy 70 in Kinston on the Neuse
I have never fished that section but it usually is loaded with anglers which is actually a good sign for shad.  Thus is the Same as spot fishing at the beach. if you arrive at the pier and there are not many fishermen it is  Not a good sign!

Fisherman Shad fishing at the Hwy 70 Boat Ramp in Kinston

 Neuse at Arrington Bridge just south Of Goldsboro.
 Bank Fishing on the North bank . Walk downstream to Stoney Creek but you will need minimum knee boots and possibly hip waders to cross a ditch to get to Stoney creek

4 spots on the Tar near Tarboro 

Spot # 1 is a small area but at times can have good fishing. 
Spot # 2 is good but has more bank access. This Spot  and the area around it is called by locals "The Shad Hole"  Coordinates  for this spot are as follows, 
35°53'39.0"N 77°31'55.2"W
 Also note that there is a boat ramp a couple hundred yards above this spot(TO THE RIGHT). 

Spot # 3 is a few miles North of Tarboro. There is a parking area up at the road and a access road that goes down towards the river. This is not a boat launch for boats on trailers as there is no ramp and the access road ends before the river but it is a good spot to put a canoe in.  There is also a pier here and some bank fishing for shad.

Spot #4 near Tarboro is at the Boat Ramp near Old Sparta.  You can fish from the boat Ramp  and upstream under the bridge and just above the bridge or you can fish the other side as there is a trail along the bank that goes up to Town Creek.  

also, here is a Video  of me motoring up Town Creek 

Maple Cypress Road In Craven County

This area has 3 spots to bank fish from .  The Pins note Bridges over creeks that parallel the river.   These 2 Bridge spots are really good when the river is high thus putting more current in them.  They are connected to the main river above the bridges so when the water is high it comes down these creeks.  The last pin is right at the ramp.      To fish the bridges just park before or after the bridge and fish off of the Bridge.  I will link a video of me doing just that below. 


What Gear to use ?. For Hickories I use light to med spinning with 6 or 8 lb line. For the bigger Americans I use nothing less that 10 lb test.

What lures?

Pictured above are Shad darts, shad spoons, twister tails, and 2 types of flies.
I rig these tandem with usually Darts and/or twister tails and the heaviest on the bottom. If I have a jig of 1/8 oz and 1 that is 1/16 I then put the heavier one on the bottom. I usually use one white and 1 chartreuse. I then change if they are hitting one color more than the other. The exception to this is if i use a spoon then the spoon goes on the bottom and the jig ahead of it by 12-18 inches.
Darts are good and sometimes you need them but in my experience you can get by with the twister tail jigs 90 percent of the time.....I buy these in 4 styles..pink head white body 1/16 oz and the same in 1/8 oz. I also buy pink head with chartreuse body in 1/8 and 1/16 oz. These are a lot cheaper than darts and spoons and 8 can be had for $1.98..you cant even buy 1 dart for that!......plus, I loose alot...if you are not losing some you are fishing too fast. Sometimes they want it fast and jerky but most of the time i fish slow and deep with subtle jerks....As to spoons, I rarely use them unless someone beside me is wearing me out then i will change!

Here is my video on how I tie my shad rig-

Here is a picture of a double of hickories caught on the Roanoke river with the pink headed jigs.

Here's my son on the Roanoke river...note..you can catch all you want at the ramp in Weldon. Also note my other fishing partner standing behind my son. Sassy the Boxer!

Look what a few years does in the life of  a young man. Spring 2015

This was a May 10th caught fish. 

When my target is American shad I use at least 10 lb line as if you get a double and have 8 lb line you will have your line snapped!!!!!...I learned this the hard way!!!!

Here is a picture of my first American Shad caught in the Santee river in South Carolina back in the early 1990's.

Here are some photos of some decent whites(Americans)

This is my Friend Rodney's first white shad!!!!!

Here is me with one on the same trip...these were caught in May on the Neuse River In Raleigh.

Below is an American I Caught in May in a tributary to the Neuse.

ADDED..There are 2 "must haves" when BANK fishing for  shad..
1. Is to have KNEE BOOTS! I cannot stress this enough,  Most creeks and rivers are going up and down and back again so the banks are usually muddy.   Hip boots are good and in some areas you may need chest waders, but I never leave the house without my knee boots during the shad run.

2. A RAPALA JIG BUSTER,  You will go though alot of 1/16 and 1/8 oz jigs and for this reason(plus they work) I buy the pink headed Arkie jigheads from Walmart. They sometimes have paint in the eye hole so the jigbuster gets the paint out fast. 

Shad fishing in North Carolina is some of the best fishing you will ever do.  I hope this helps someone and if you get the bug to go send me a line this spring.......Mack.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cypress trees at a local lake

Over the years I have planted a lot of trees.  Catalpa trees grown from cuttings. Chestnuts, oaks, Osage Orange, Persimmon, and Honey Locust all grown from seeds. I have planted a lot of Cypress trees, probably in the neighborhood of several thousand in a local lake and some on the haw river on two tracts of family land.
Did I mention that I like to plant trees?....I started planting Cypress trees at this local lake in the early 90's. I first started buying seedlings(100 to a bag) from a nursery and did this for several years and then I found out about 2 local area groups(The haw River Assembly, and the Sierra Club) that were buying a seedlings and planting them here also. I contacted them and helped them 1 year plant 4000 seedlings. A young forester name Brian and myself planted about 1000 of these. I have always planted these 2'-3' seedlings with their tips just sticking out of the water. These seedlings have done fine being planted this way except for 1 thing. Beavers!!!!

I plant them at a depth of 2-3 feet so one day they will have fish using them for cover. I have planted a few 6' trees at a depth of 3- 4 ft. Cypress trees can survive in water 6 ft deep if their tops are out of the water. Did I mention that I don't like beavers anymore?...Well probably 3900 plus most of the ones I purchased myself have been eaten. Fortunately some stands have done well. One stand that I planted myself is doing quite well. Beavers have eaten a few, but these have all sprouted back except for a couple of them. Hopefully one day I can witness an eagle or osprey nest in one of these.
Here are some of these cypress in the mid 90's

Here is the same stand looking the opposite way. This is late summer, early fall so the trees don't look bright green like they normally do. This picture was taken around 2004 or so.

Here is a picture this year. Note... the water is down about 5'. Normally these trees would have water all around them.

Here is another picture from farther away.

Here is one of the trees up close. Notice all the cones that this tree is producing. Also notice the root system. This stand has aprox 40 -50 trees and a couple of these are doing this. Great fish habitat as in the spring and early summer there are lots of minnows in these roots. I caught a 4lb bass under this tree early this year.

Hopefully next spring I can post a few pictures of these trees and also me with a few bass caught wading around these........Mack
This shot below was taken in May of 2010. Some of the trees in this stand are approaching 20 years old.

Updated May 2015

Here is a Google Earth "screen shot of the pond where these Cypress trees have done the best.
I can count over 60 trees. Look along the upper part of the pond and you can see the trees in the water!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eastern N.C. Smallies????. Spring 2009

I kept hearing rumors about this river in eastern n.c. that supposedly has some Smallies in it. It is right on the Piedmont/coastal plain border and It is not the Uwharrie which is a better known stream.

 I find it hard to believe that there are smallies in this river as I have fished it a few times near its headwaters and a few times down low and reportedly Smallmouth bass are distributed though out its entire length as I had  never caught a smallie there in the past. Th rumors kept intriguing me so I planned a trip there in the spring of 09.

 I fished it near the middle of it and put in at a bridge and paddled up. The redbreast fishing in this stream was awesome and that is putting it mildly. The  Avg size was better than most streams though I didn't catch any monsters. Most redbreast were caught on small Rapalas. I also  caught some bass on buzzers and Rapalas. I Even caught 2 at a time which miraculously  I  have done twice in 09! Here's to the first double caught in 09.

Here's a picture of the river. It is probably the prettiest river in North Carolina

I caught several Smallmouth this size though none were over 12 inches.
There are Defiantly smallies in this water.

A Decent redbreast caught


There were no lunkers caught on today's trip   but it was  a great day on a beautiful river. I was wading in one section and out of the corner of my eye I  spotted what I though was a log floating downstream. It got right to my ankles and it was an aprox 30 lb flathead slowly going downstream through some skinny water!  What an awesome sight !!

....I will get back there soon.

Thanks for going along.   Mack

Phelps Lake part 2.

Well, we returned to Phelps for another round in spring 09. The fishing was nowhere near what it was last year. This is because of one major condition. The water was down aprox 1.5 ft. This was because of the bad fires and the lake being used for water. Now that doesn't sound like a lot but when it is 16000 acres and the avg depth is like 3-4 ft then you have some problems......I couldn't put my motor down until i was at least 100 yds out!. We could not find any minnows close to the lake. we mainly fished with buzzbaits and tubes. Some fish caught but not many.

here's 1 that nailed a 3 in tube

here's another that nailed a tube

we finally got disgusted of the poor fishing so we went looking for bears in the pocosin refuge.
lots of bears were being seen , one even came through the camp but we missed him. This was at breeding season so the male bears are out searching. We didn't see any but tracks were every where

this was everywhere in the roads!

and then we were out of the car looking for tracks and i happened to walked over to a culvert in a canal and this bad boy was laying on top of it! Picture doesn't do him justice but it is at least a 4.5 to 5 ft timber rattler. Very thick body.

We will be back to Phelps lake. Though the fishing was poor this year, searching the refuge was awesome!. Mack