By Don Mallicoat-As I’ve stated before, March is a month of languish for the hunter or angler. Trout waters are closed and except for coyotes there is nothing to hunt. All that changes on April 5th with two opening dates. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will open approximately 1,000 miles of hatchery-supported trout waters in 25 western counties at 7 a.m. on April 5. The season will run through Feb. 28, 2015.While fishing on hatchery-supported trout waters, anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limits or bait restrictions.
Streams and rivers in the Wildlife Commission’s Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters Program are marked by green-and-white signs. Commission staff stocks these waters from March until August every year, depending on the individual stream. A list of numbers and species stocked by month and county can be found on the Commission’s website. Many of these waters are stocked monthly, although some heavily fished waters are stocked more frequently.
Commission personnel will stock nearly 907,000 trout, with 96 percent of the stocked fish averaging 10 inches in length and the other fish exceeding 14 inches. Stocked trout are produced primarily in two mountain region fish hatcheries operated by the Commission and are distributed along hatchery-supported streams where public access for fishing is available. While hatchery-supported trout waters are open to public fishing, many of those miles are privately owned.
“Opportunities to fish on many of these hatchery-supported trout streams are only available through the support and generosity of landowners,” said David Deaton, fish production supervisor for the Wildlife Commission. “It’s important for anglers to respect the property that they’re fishing on and remember that landowners can take away access if they feel their property is being misused.”
Deaton said that anglers can help prevent the loss of public access to fishing by: Respecting private property and landowners at all times; Removing all trash and litter from fishing and parking areas; Parking only in designated areas and leaving driveways open for pass-through traffic; and closing and/or locking gates after use.
There is another opener on April 5th and this one is for the kids. North Carolina’s wild turkey seasons begin with youth season on that date. More info, including a link to the complete online turkey-hunting regs, can be found at the Commission’s website. Youth Season (male or bearded turkey only) is the first week of the season, April 5-11, 2014. Hunters are reminded that youth must be under 16 and accompanied by a licensed hunter. The statewide Spring Season (male or bearded turkey only) picks up the following Saturday, April 12th and continues through May 10, 2014. The daily limit is one bird with a possession and season limit of 2, only one of which may be taken during the youth season.
Since we are talking turkey, it is a good time to remind hunters to get out their turkey gear, do an inventory, and clean or replace needed items. Box and push calls need to be re-chalked. And if you are like me you can’t find a single piece of the chalk you bought last year or the year before that. Diaphragm mouth calls need to be replaced. Most of those are made of latex and it tends to dry when it sits for a long time. Remember to pattern the shotgun. Ammo makers are always coming out with new loads so it may be a good time to try some different ammo. Who knows, you may find something that works better.
Do you have a decoy? If not there are a lot of models out there. One of the most innovative I’ve seen is the Mojo Shake ‘n Jake motion decoy. It rotates and the tail fans out. Designed to draw in that jealous old Tom for sure! And let’s not forget scouting. I haven’t been out yet, but have talked to several folks who say they are not seeing birds in their usual haunts. This is particularly important if hunting public land. Public land birds get a lot of pressure, especially early in the season.
And last, but not least, let’s mention hunting safety during turkey season. Remember, we are all out there dressed in camouflage. Do not stalk another turkey yelp or gobble. It might be another hunter. Also do not wear anything red or blue in the field, which are the colors of a turkey head. And be sure to sit against a tree as wide as your body and always identify your target before pulling the trigger.