Wanna step outside? Deer, bear, quail seasons begin Saturday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2022

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By Dan Kibler

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has plans to stock mountain trout in December in some Piedmont waters that would normally not hold them.

The commission will stock more than 60,000 brown, rainbow and brook trout in 40 small impoundments across the western half of the state between Nov. 30 and Dec. 22. All trout stocked will be at least 10 inches long.

Anglers will be allowed to keep seven trout daily in the small ponds and lakes. There will be no bait restrictions and no minimum size limits; the only requirement will be that all anglers have a state fishing license.

In Forsyth County, a pond in C.G. Hill Park in Pfafftown will be stocked on Dec. 6. Village Point Lake in Clemmons will be stocked Dec. 12.

In Rowan County, Salisbury City Lake and a pond at Salisbury Community Park will be stocked Dec. 14.

In Guilford County, a pond in Gibson Park will be stocked Dec. 14.

The program, which began several years ago, has been extremely popular with fishermen in the Piedmont who don’t normally get the opportunity to fish for trout without making a drive of at least an hour to the mountains.

For a complete list of impoundments being stocked — and stocking dates, go to www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Fishing/documents/2022/2022-Winter-Trout-Stocking.pdf

Deer, bear, quail seasons kick off Saturday

North Carolina hunters will have plenty of activities to choose from beginning Saturday as seasons for a handful of species begin and hunting really gets going full-swing.

Gun season for white-tailed deer and black bear seasons open Nov. 19 in a handful of western Piedmont counties, including Forsyth, Yadkin, Davie, Surry and Iredell, to run through Jan. 2. Gun deer and bear seasons have been open since Nov. 12 in Piedmont counties, including Rowan, Anson, Union, Guilford, Cabarrus and Randolph.

The bag limit on bear — for hunters who purchase a special bear permit — is one animal per season. The bag limit on deer is six per season, only two of which may be bucks.

Quail season also opens Nov. 19, to run through Feb. 28, with a daily limit of six birds. Pheasant season also opens Nov. 19, with a three-bird daily limit, through Feb. 1.

The second splits of three-segment seasons for doves, ducks and geese remain open through Nov. 26, along with rabbit, squirrel, bobcat and grouse.

Duck hunter warning: numbers are down

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual survey of breeding duck populations doesn’t have a lot of food things to say for hunters this season, pinning estimated duck populations at 34.2 million, down 12% from the 2019 survey — the most-recent survey done because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 34.2 million number is 4% below the long-term average since 1955.

Conspicuously, several of the most-popular species are showing big drops since 2019: mallards, down 23%, gadwall, down 18%, green-wing teal, down 32%, widgeon, down 25%, shoveller, down 17%, pintail, down 21%, and canvasback, down 10%.

Reports were better for blue-wing teal, up 19%, and redheads, up 35%.

Bull reds in OBX surf

Surf fishermen have no place better to anchor their sand spikes than North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and there’s no time better than early to mid-November for “trophy hunters.”

It seems the surf crashing ashore on the thin barrier island between Oregon and Ocracoke inlets is full of big red drum — a hallmark of Outer Banks fishing in the fall.

Fishing reports from Buxton north have been filled this week with details of big bull reds being caught from the surf and from the Avon Pier. It’s prime time there to sling a long surf rod baited with a chunk of cut mullet into the surf.

Fishing is catch-and-release only for the luckiest anglers; North Carolina doesn’t allow fish longer than 27 inches to be kept, and most of the bull reds being beached and decked have been in the 40- to 48-inch class.