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Entries in North Carolina (31)


Thom-A-Lex Fishing Trail Opens In North Carolina

With B.A.S.S. as a key partner, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) recently opened its third educational fishing trail in two years on a state fishery. The new Lake Thom-A-Lex trail follows closely Cane Creek, which was completed in the spring, and Oak Hollow in 2016.

"The singular difference in the Thom-A-Lex trail is that the lake was part of a select group of reservoirs managed as a North Carolina trophy fishery for many years," said Bill Frazier, North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation conservation director and a guiding force for these innovative habitat projects.

"Until recently, it had special creel limits to help it produce exceptional quality fish, and it is not very well known so it did not get much pressure," he added. "It has been a long-guarded secret that we've now let out of the bag.

"I expect it to do great things once the enhancements have some time to acclimate."

Frazier is particularly pleased that the Boy Scouts of America organization was a key player in the project, as was the Lake-Thom-A-Lex Lake Authority.

 "I’ve always wanted to reach out and partner with  other traditional, youth-based organizations like the Scouts," he said. "By not doing it, we are missing an unprecedented opportunity to build on multiple strengths we both share.

"Daniel Pell, our Eagle Scout candidate who led the project, finally opened that door and I hope it is more like a flood gate," he continued. "We now have a second candidate who has stepped up to do a fishing trail in 2018. I believe this is a real coup for expanding the project and B.A.S.S. youth options in many positive ways."

A member of Troop 328, Pell found local sponsors to provide the materials for the fish attractors, helped survey the lake and select site locations, solicited volunteers to build the attractors, and helped deploy the attractors as part of his Eagle Scout Service Award project, according to WRC.

The trail consists of 13 sites scattered around the 650-acre impoundment. As with attractors on the earlier trails, they will help anglers learn about habitat needs of bass as they fish a variety of cover placed sequentially according to season.

"We hope this is the next level of reservoir habitat management and a new avenue to building the sport with younger anglers," Frazier said.

WRC's Mark Fowlkes added, "Largemouth bass and other sport fish use different habitats throughout the year. These seasonal movements and habitat patterns are instinctive and triggered by changes in water temperature, daylight hours, spawning and feeding.”

Buoy markers pinpoint the sites and a pamphlet created with funding assistance from the Sport Fish Restoration program explains these seasonal movements.

"In the spring, prior to the spawning season, largemouth bass congregate in areas such as in river and creek channels near shallow flats," WRC said.

Next, they move into shallow coves, onto flats and around points, in about 1 to 7 feet of water to spawn. Afterward, they move slowly into areas with cover or that have access to deeper waters to reside during the heat of the summer.

"As water temperatures decline in the fall, largemouth bass often move to the same creeks where they were found in the spring, searching for food. In the winter, they move to deeper water because of the short days and cold water temperatures," the agency added.

“Teaching anglers about seasonal movements of fish can help increase their angling success and make fishing more enjoyable,” Frazier concluded. “These principles can be used on other reservoirs, but it is important to remember that each reservoir is unique.”


Steve Honeycutt: Bass Fisherman And Everyday Hero

How important is fishing during our time in this life? This story from Why We Fish explains it pretty well.

*    *    *    *   *

To say that fishing helped Steve Honeycutt to live longer would be presumptuous.

But it certainly made him happy and, more importantly, helped him endure, as his body failed but his spirit never bowed to the fatal cancer that took his life too soon.

Steve fished until the end of this life --- and then some. Instead of a suit, the long-time tournament angler chose a tee shirt with an angler on the front and the message “Afterlife is Great! Simple as That” to wear at the final celebration of his life in Lexington, N.C.

Wife Kay, who agreed to bass fishing at Lake Norman on their honeymoon years before, remembered that he made the decision to wear that shirt following a biopsy at the hospital. “I looked at him like he was maybe still under the effects of medication,” she recalled, but knew that he was serious. After all, she had made him a hat to wear and throw in the air for his “graduation” from radiation treatment. When chemotherapy took his hair, she saw him pose for goofy photos with his sons, who shaved their heads in loving solidarity.

And she had been with him when he climbed Georgia’s Stone Mountain just a month before his passing. In an e-mail update that Steve sent to friends, he said of the trip, “I tell you, that was a proud moment for me. It is one of the hardest things I ever attempted (considering physical shape). I declared I would not try it again, but I may already be having second thoughts.”

Simply, Steven Curtis Honeycutt, age 50, father of three, and member of the Archdale Bass Club, was just a guy who lived an ordinary life --- in an extraordinary way. During an eight-month battle with cancer, everyone he knew, everyone he met, was inspired by his unassuming heroism, according to long-time friend Bill Frazier, who spoke at the celebration.

“I know Steve,” he told the gathering. “He does not want us grieving. He’s wandering around the dock up there, worrying the snot out of someone about what hot lure the fish are biting and where he can get one.

“He’s negotiating with old Saint Pete about how much tackle he will be allowed to take on his next fishing trip with the Master Fisherman.”

Frazier also explained that Steve had been one of his “everyday heroes.”

“Some people idolize comic book fantasies or sports icons,” he said. “The heroes in my life always have been there every day. They are not necessarily close to me, but they are real. You can hear them, see them, and they see you!

“They are family and friends who laugh and cry, lead by example, struggle and smile as they stumble along like the rest of us, slaying common, everyday dragons that we all face. But what makes them special is that they make it look easy.

“Steve became one of my everyday heroes long ago. We were fishing buddies.”

Before he left the lakes on this plane for those on the next, Steve logged in as much time on the water as he could, competing in two events. At his club tournament, he could muster only enough strength to fish half the day. But of his participation at the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Regional less than a week later and less than two months before he died, he said, “I was able to fish the entire two days. God gave me that much more energy and stamina in just six days. I’m so blessed I can barely stand it! I didn’t finish very well, but I had a great time.”

On the final day, a teammate saw him sitting away from the crowd and looking out at the water. Concerned, he went over and asked Steve if he was all right.

“Yeah, man,” Steve said. “It is the greatest day of my life.”

Frazier explained such a description did not diminish the importance of family and friends to his fishing buddy. “Fishing to Steve was a justification to himself of who he was --- unselfish but competitive, flexible but strong, beaten down but never a quitter. He was a warrior, courageous and unconquerable.”

And back in April, after being treated with chemotherapy and radiation for esophageal and stomach cancer, he decided that serving as a marshal at the Elite Series Blue Ridge Brawl bass tournament was more important than going to his doctor to find out the results of more biopsies.

The tests confirmed that the disease had spread to his liver, but Steve was unbowed. He stayed at the B.A.S.S. tournament to fulfill his obligation as a marshal and spend time in a boat with some of the world’s best bass anglers.

Steve was a big supporter of B.A.S.S., Frazier added. “Not the fish. The organization. By having just a regular old membership, it was the same thing to him as being in the NFL. He may have been irritated about one policy or another, but he never stopped supporting what he thought was the greatest bass fishing organization in the world.”

Frazier, wife Kay, and so many more of us whom Steve touched wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that he has started a B.A.S.S. chapter and is staging bass tournaments with his afterlife fishing friends.




The 100-Pound Striper

Does it exist? 90-pounders have been documented in the recent past. and older references say that 125-pounders were caught off the coast of North Carolina during the 1890s.

To find out more, check out this story in The Fisherman.


North Carolina Adds More Fishing Trails

North Carolina now has its second Educational Fishing Trail, with a third on its way to completion.

In March, volunteers worked with staffers from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to build fish attractors for installation in Union County's Cane Creek Reservoir. By April 9, the trail should have been "unofficially ready to fish," according to Bill Frazier, North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation (NCBN) conservation director. He added that completion of the trail at Thom-a-Lex in Davidson County should not be far behind.

Starting with the Oak Hollow trail, which opened last year, Frazier has been the guiding force those these unique projects that allow anglers to learn about habitat needs of bass as they fish a variety of cover placed sequentially according to season.

"We hope this is the next level of reservoir habitat enhancement and a new avenue to building the sport with younger anglers," said the member of the Archdale Bass Club who also is a regulatory manager for environmental programs in a regional water utility.

NCBN teams up with the commission and local governments to plan and place the trails, with a special emphasis on youth involvement.

"Youth members of N.C. B.A.S.S. played a huge role in the creation of the Oak Hollow Educational Fishing Trail by helping us design, build and install the structures for each fishing site, using leftover materials from a previous Boy Scout fish attractor project,” said Mark Fowlkes, a NCWRC aquatic habitat coordinator. “Likewise, youth from Riley’s Catch (a B.A.S.S. affiliate youth club in the Charlotte area) have helped design the Cane Creek Fishing Trail and will be there to help build and install structures."

Youth anglers also raised funds to purchase materials and the commission used money from the Sport Fish Restoration Program to purchase buoys, he added.

Frazier pointed out that the trails, thus far, have involved no cost to local communities. "We want them to see this as a huge asset for them," he said. "We need the tourism folks at the state level to step up and share the vision of how big this can really be."

Small, municipal lakes are "hugely underutilized resources that need just a little help to be stellar resources," he added.

Meanwhile, anglers like what they see at Oak Hollow. Following a March competition there, marina manager Lamar Lee said, "This was the best tournament we'd had in years, both in number of participants and fish caught. Now that the word has gotten out, it should be a busy season for us." 


Tournament Anglers Boat Big Bass at North Carolina's Shearon Harris Lake

North Carolina's Shearon Harris Lake claimed legendary status as a bass fishery in 1996, when Dennis Reedy won a tournament with a 10-fish limit that weighed 72 pounds. Since he finished a distant third with 35 pounds, Shane Burns well remembers that day.

But Burns and fiance Bonnie Kelly made an even more spectacular splash on the 4,100-acre reservoir in early March when they won back-to-back tournaments with 40-pound-plus limits of 5 fish.

"I just seem to keep figuring it out better every year," said Burns. "Not many weigh in a limit with five fish overs out there."

By "overs," Burns means bass above the 16- to 20-inch protected slot on  the fishery that boasts hydrilla and provides cooling water for the Harris Nuclear Plant.

"It is not specifically managed as a trophy fishery but is in a cluster of ponds in the Capitol area that seems to persistently breed above average fish," said Bill Frazier, conservation director for the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation. "Hydrilla is managed pretty extensively but other weeds have gotten a foothold. Notably alligator grass and primrose."

In the first event, competing against 88 other teams, Burns estimated that he and Kelly caught about two dozen overs, as they weighed in 41.93 pounds. "Everything we caught was an over," he said.

In a smaller event the following weekend, they managed an even more impressive 46.89 pounds.

"The fishing wasn't as fast and furious," the veteran angler said. "But we had a limit of 32 to 34 pounds within the first 45 minutes. I caught a 10.38 later and then a 10.91. We had eight fish over 7 pounds and I counted 30 overs."

Even more incredible, Burns went back out with a friend on the day after each tournament and enjoyed equal success.

How did he do it? Just before the first tournament, Burns found a transitional spot. "I intercepted those fish on the way to spawn," he said.

His primary area was about 100 yards long, and featured a main lake point that dropped out and then rose back up to a hump. "I was marking fish in 30 feet of water," he said. "But they wouldn't bite that deep. We caught them in 23 to 26 feet."

Only three teams fished deep in the first tournament, he added, and they finished first, second, and third.

Burns and Kelly used 3/4-ounce willowleaf spinnerbaits and football head jigs for the first win.  For the second, they needed only jigs.

"These were the most unbelievable days of my life and getting to share them with Bonnie was extra special," he said.