Look for ‘set apart’ cover for early bass

Published 10:33 am Saturday, March 2, 2024

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For the 43rd year, the Dixie Deer Classic opened its doors last weekend to hunters looking for big-buck bragging rights.

The annual show, at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, crowned the biggest bucks killed in North Carolina last season. Besides hundreds of vendors offering all manner of outdoors merchandise, the show’s biggest draw is the annual big-buck contest.

Striped mullet proposals

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission shocked a lot of fishermen last fall when it temporarily closed the recreational harvest of striped mullet – an important baitfish in North Carolina waters.

The commission said it was trying to get a handle on falling numbers of the pedestrian little baitfish, aka finger mullet, signaling a shift to new management.

The future is almost now.

The commission voted for a change in plans to manage striped mullet – a plan that reduces the commercial harvest by 34.95 and really doesn’t affect recreational fishermen. The plan could take effect after it gets final approval at in late May.

Recreational fishermen  will have an individual and vessel limit of 400 fish per day, except on chartered trips, where the limit would correspond to the number of anglers on board.

The commercial season for striped mullet would be closed on Saturdays and Sundays from Jan. 1-Sept. 30, and from Saturdays through Mondays Oct. 1-Dec. 31. Stop-net fishing would be managed with the same regulations as the rest of the fishery.

Look for isolated cover

Set apart.

That’s how Shaw Grigsby, the Hall of Fame bass pro from Gainesville, Fla., approaches targeting largemouths when March arrives and spring is just around the corner.

Grigsby, who gave seminars at the Central Carolina Boat & Fishing Expo in Greensboro, looks for isolated pieces of cover, things that are “set apart” from the remainder of visible shoreline cover.

“Spring is coming, and fish will be starting to move shallow,” said Grigsby, a tremendous springtime fisherman who has won better than $2 million during a 35-year career. “I am looking for isolated trees and bushes that are out in front of the main line of cover. Fish are looking for anything like that to hold on before they go to the bank.

“I remember one time, I led a tournament at Buggs Island (Lake) after the first day,” he said. “I caught all my fish on isolated cover. I caught one bass on the first bush out on the edge of a point. I caught one on a log out in the  middle of a pocket – those kinds of places. That’s what I’m looking to fish. Fish will go to that kind of isolated cover. Now, when the water gets to 60 (degrees), they go to the bank.”