As we wind the clock down on 2010, I hope that everyone enjoyed a very special Christmas and I offer my wishes for a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. In addition to my best wishes for the coming year and a brief report, at the bottom of this I'll offer some things to do during the winter to keep the outdoors alive and going while we are inside dodging the cold and nasty weather. Hopefully you will find some of them intriguing and attend.
2010 was a unique year. It came in cold and is headed out the same way. The first few months were some of the coldest in several decades and then it set out to earn those same accolades for December--and I believe it accomplished it.
However, between the cold, there was a spring, summer and fall with good fishing and other outdoor activities. Recreational fishermen had one of the best years for flounder in a while and the species is still under management strategies to recover. In a couple of years the flounder fishing could be really good.
The trout that were killed by cold water and porpoises last winter obviously didn't come back and the trout fishing was pretty slim through the early fall. However, sometime in October it became apparent the trout had spawned before they died and the entire N.C. Coast became alive with 13 inch trout. If half of them make it through the winter, we should have an excellent trout season next year.
Speaking of trout, it was a very contentious year for speckled trout on several fronts. These included a new Spotted Sea Trout (speckled trout) Fisheries Management Plan Amendment being developed, SL 2010-13, with higher standards for fisheries management being passed, a request from the Marine Fisheries Commission to the Joint Legislative Committee for Seafood and Aquaculture and forwarded favorably from them to the incoming congress to grant the an exception to SL 2010-13 and allow a Fishery Management Plan Amendment that doesn't meet the requirements of the law to be adopted.
Gray trout also had their limits reduced to a single fish per day, even though local fishermen sometimes found them in great enough numbers to be considered a nuisance while fishing near the Radio Island Bridge and train trestle, along Shackleford Banks and in the holes off the end of the Cape Lookout Jetty in the Morehead City area and at any of the nearshore artificial reefs along the southern N.C. Coast. This is a coastwide (east coast) management plan and is deemed necessary from years of overfishing in the northeastern U.S.
Sea turtles rose to the forefront of fisheries management with a suit and netting requirements that angered many commercial fishermen and severely curtailed netting in some areas. The permit that allows limited incidental take of sea turtles in net fishing operations was to expire in December and there has not been word yet on if it will be renewed. Sea Turtles are endangered species and are regulated federally. Word should come regarding the incidental take permit at any time.
NOAA Fisheries also figured big into fishery management in 2010 and shut down or severely restricted several fisheries that commercial and recreational fishermen thought were in good shape. Several suits have been filed and may take years to be settled.
With the cold weather and rapidly cooling water, the fishing began slowing down during December. Local fishermen regularly looking for those big paydays associated with landing a bluefin tuna. They also found some kings and wahoo on a couple of nice days offshore last week. The offshore bottom fish are biting well when weather allows the trip, but the red snapper and beeliner seasons are already closed and grouper season closes on January 1, so probably not a lot of folks will be going. There are some big black sea bass for those needing to get some salt spray on their face. Black sea bass taste good and are usually willing biters. Inshore there are some puppy drum and a few trout.
With the cold weather, many fishermen and outdoorsmen spend more time in the garage or by a warm fire watching hunting and fishing on TV. Even when the weather factors into going or not hunting or fishing, there are still things you can do to keep involved.
In North Carolina we are blessed not to have too extreme of winter weather and certainly not for long periods at a time. We are also blessed to have an abundance and variety of boat, fishing and outdoor shows to attend during the winter months. I have assembled a list and brief description of some of the events that will be held during the next several months. I have grouped them in categories by the type of event and then tried to list them chronologically within the category.
I probably have missed a couple of smaller events, but couldn't find any information on them. Please do not take this as a slight or indication they are not excellent events. Many smaller, local events are excellent. The list is below and I hope you find something that helps get you through to spring. We'll see what happens in the woods and waters during 2011 and hope it will be positively interesting.
Happy New Year and good fishing!
Redfish Can't Jump
For those who do not know, Redfish Can't Jump was filmed in the waters between Topsail and Southport. Fishermen who are attentive may even recognize a few of their favorite locations. While the story is statewide, there definitely is a special local connection to the Cape Fear area.
According to Capt. Seth Vernon, who is one of the driving forces behind the film, the documentary will be an hour feature on redfish, featuring their return from near demise, and Redfish Can't Jump. He said there was also some new footage that was filmed this fall--and more. I don't know about everyone else, but by 7:00 on New Years night, I will be so ready for something other than football and my TV will be turned on and tuned in.
The Third Annual Cape Fear River Invitational Striper Tournament will be held January 14 and 15 in Wilmington. This is a catch and release striped bass tournament to help support Cape Fear River Watch in their efforts to restore the Cape Fear River Striped Bass Fishery. I received an invitation this year and am looking forward to participating in all aspects of the tournament. The tournament is sponsored by Cape Fear River Watch in partnership with local businesses, organizations, and individuals and will provide valuable census data to NC Fish & Wildlife while preserving the excitement of a traditional weigh-at-the-dock tournament. All fish will be tagged before being released.
The tournament begins with the Captains Banquet and Auction on Friday evening. The public is invited to this and the auction items will include art, fishing gear, vacation packages and more. Tickets are $40 per person.
The Tournament will be fished on Saturday with 10 to 12 teams of anglers paired with knowledgeable local guides. They will see who can catch, tag and release the most and the largest striped bass. There are a few slots still open if anyone is interested.
The public is invited to join Cape Fear River Watch dockside (next to the Best Western Coastline Inn) at 7:00 A.M. Saturday morning for a complimentary pancake breakfast to send the anglers on their way. Tours aboard the fast catamaran, Wilmington, to see the river and watch some of the fishing action will be available for $15 per person and a special lunch tour is only $25 per person.
On Saturday, from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., there will be speakers and children's activities in the area beside the dock. Then, beginning at 4:00 P.M. the fishermen will return. Cape Fear River Watch will host the anglers and spectators for appetizers and refreshments through the Awards Ceremony which will follow immediately.
For questions on the Cape Fear River Watch program or the Invitational Striped Bass Tournament, visit www.cfrw.us or call 910-762-5606.
The Sixth Annual North Carolina Fishing Pier Society -- Johnnie Mercer's Pier Dogfish Tournament will be held January 29, from 1:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at Johnnie Mercer's Pier in Wrightsville Beach. All proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the North Carolina Public Access Foundation to help keep access to water throughout N.C. open to everyone.
The 2011 tournament is sponsored by the N.C. Fishing Pier Society, Johnnie Mercer's Pier, Silver Gull Motel, N.C. Public Access Foundation and Linden Custom Rods. In addition to custom designed trophies for the winners, there will be a special grand prize drawing for a Linden Custom Rod.
Tournament Chairman Al Baird, of the N.C. Fishing Pier Society, said the hours are extended into the evening as the best bite of the day usually comes sometimes from just before to a little after dark. He said this is one of the least expensive tournaments you will ever fish, with a $5 per rod entry and an $8 pier pass all that is required. He also said the Silver Gull Motel, which is adjacent to the pier, is offering a special low rate for fishermen in the tournament that would like to stay after the tournament or come for the weekend.
Fishing Shows and Expos
The first event of 2011 is the Raleigh Bass and Saltwater Expo at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh on January 7 to 9. This is a large event that features one building of primarily salt water equipment and a second building that is primarily fresh water equipment. This event will include seminars and I will be one of the many presenters. For more information on this event, visit www.ncboatshows.com.
The Richmond Bass and Saltwater Fishing Expo will be held January 21 to 23 at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Va. I mention this event because I will again be hosting seminars and every year I speak a large number of folks who regularly travel to N.C. to fish. This is the first year in this new facility after being at the Richmond Raceway for years. For more information on this event, visit www.ncboatshows.com.
The Central Carolina Boat and Fishing Show will be at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro on February 25 to 27. This event balances a boat show and fishing expo approximately equally to take advantage of all the space available at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. This event will include seminars and I will be one of the presenters. For more information on this event, visit www.ncboatshows.com.
For 2011, the N.C. Flyfishing Show is moving from Charlotte to the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. The dates are January 29 and 30. In addition to the displays and sales booths, the Flyfishing Show will feature seminars and destination theatres. There will be demonstrations and a special "Ladies Only" casting session with Capt. Sarah Gardner of Nags Head. Session size is limited and some have registration fees. For more information on the sessions and fees, call 866-481-2393. For more information on the show, visit www.flyfishingshow.com.
The International Custom Rod Builders Exposition is scheduled for February 26 and 27 at the Showplace Center in High Point. This is the largest event of this type in the world and has countless booths of rod building components and custom rods, plus seminars and workshops. For more information visit www.rodexpo.com.
Boaters in the Raleigh area are fortunate enough to have two large boat shows in addition to the Bass and Saltwater Expo. The first boat show in Raleigh is the Raleigh Convention Center Boat Show on February 4 to 6. This show moved around a few years while the Convention Center was being rebuilt, but moved back to its original home immediately after construction was completed. There are also some accessory and fishing booths, but in a much smaller number than at the fishing shows. For more information visit www.raleighconvention.com/boatshow2011.
The second Raleigh Boat Show is actually the oldest, but comes a few weeks later. The Carolina Powerboat Show and Sale will be at the N.C. State Fairgrounds on February 18 to 20. This show will feature two buildings of boats and even a few more displayed outside. There will also be a limited number of accessory and fishing booths. For more information, visit www.ncboatshows.com.
The Mid-Atlantic Boat show is a trademark event in Charlotte and the 2011 show will be held February 17 to 20. This show began in the old Convention Center and was the first event held in the new Convention Center. As it should be, this show highlights lake and skiing boats. There are some fishing boats, but the numbers are not high. There are also a few accessory and other booths. For more information, visit www.ncboatshows.com.
The Central Carolina Boat and Fishing Show will be at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro on February 25 to 27. This event balances a boat show and fishing expo approximately equally to take advantage of all the space available at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. This event will include seminars. For more information on this event, visit www.ncboatshows.com.
The Eastern Carolina Boat Show that had been held at the old Overton's warehouse in Greenville for the past several years will move to the Greenville Convention Center this year. In the past this show had been the first weekend in March and competed heavily with the Dixie Deer Classic. This year's dates will be May 6 to 8 and the promoters and dealers expect the later weekend to be a real bonus. There is not currently a website for this show. It should be added after the first of 2011 and easily found with an internet search.
Outdoor and Hunting Shows
The 2011 Dixie Deer Classic will be held March 4 to 6 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. It will include the Graham Building and Dorton Arena. The number of booths is very impressive and there are deals to be found. Many hunters save to buy hunting gear for the next year during this show. In addition to the booths there is a scoring booth for deer hunters to have their mounts scored and compete in several categories for largest deer. The N.C. Bowhunters Association runs an archery shoot in the east end of Dorton Arena and national hunting and wildlife experts and celebrities will be on hand for photos and seminars. For more information, visit www.dixiedeerclassic.org.
The 2011 Cape Fear Wildlife Expo will be the third and the growth has been exponential. The dates are March 18 to 20 and displays will fill the two buildings and include a boat show. Representatives from Quality Deer Management Association will present a Deer Hunting 101 Workshop and a Kids Gone Wild Workshop. The NC Bass Association will present a Kids Casting Contest and the NC Bowhunters Association will have their Archery Alley for practice and demonstrations and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission will have their Sensory Safari. For more information, visit www.capefearwildlifeexpo.com.
An extra event (with separate charge) happening in conjunction with the Cape Fear Wildlife Expo will be the N.C. Sportsman Magazine Fishing School. For more information, visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com.
The Saltwater Sportsman National Seminar Series will make its 2011 N.C. stop at Brunswick Community College on January 29. This series mixes fishermen with national reputations and local experts for a six hour seminar. For more information, visit www.nationalseminarseries.com.
Capt. Jimmy Price and I have teamed with Sea Striker, Star Rods and several other manufacturers to carry the 2011 Sea Striker Fishing School to three locations across N.C. The first will be on February 12 at the Oak Island Recreation Center. The second will be at River Park North in Greenville on February 19. The third will be at Libby Hill Seafood Restaurant in Greensboro on March 5. These schools will focus heavily on inshore fishing, plus Spanish and king mackerel and offshore bottom fishing in the ocean. For more information call Capt. Price at 910-443-1211 or Capt. Dilsaver at 910-279-6760. More information is available at www.captjerry.com.
The NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores will offer the Get Hooked Saltwater Fishing School on March 12. Many local captains will participate in the all-day event that features many different topics. For more information visit www.ncaquariums.com.
The N.C. Sportsman Saltwater Fishing School will be held in conjunction with the Cape Fear Wildlife Expo on March 19. A ticket to the fishing school includes admission to the expo. This school features speakers from across N.C. and S.C. and a wide variety of subjects. For more information visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com.
Capt. Jimmy Price will host the Top Dog Comedy Show and Fishing School at the Oak Island Moose Lodge on March 26. Price will be joined by friends from along the N.C. Coast. Proceeds from this event will go to the Top Dog Toys for Kids at Christmas Project headed by Capt. Price. For more information visit www.topdoginc.org.
While I am sure other fishermen will be involved in seminars across the state this winter and spring, I only have the dates, times, locations and subjects for the ones I will be participating in and the Bass and Saltwater fishing expos. For more information visit www.captjerry.com and click on the seminars link. More are being added and the list will grow all year.
On February 2, I will do a kayak fishing seminar for the Fayetteville Area Anglers Network. It will be at the Pechmann Outdoor Education Center at Lake Rim in Fayetteville and begin at 6:30. For more information visit www.fayettevilleanglers.com.
I will be doing three kayak fishing seminars this spring and into the summer for the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department. The first will be the evening of April 19, beginning at 6:30. The next two will be on Saturdays in May or later, with the dates not yet determined. These events will be all day, with some classroom and rigging in the morning, then a fishing trip during the afternoon. For more information on all the Oak Island Parks and Recreation events, visit their website at www.oakislandnc.com/Recreation.