Early Spring Freshwater Fishing Report 2017

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I decided to put together an early freshwater fishing report.

This fishing report will be a mix of what I’ve done over the last few weeks, as well as links to active fisheries and other reports I find useful. I hope it’s helpful and inspires you to get out fishing soon.

We had our first spring back in late January and the patterns were about what I would have expected to work in mid to late March. On area lakes like Gaston, Kerr and others, fish like striped bass, largemouth bass and crappie were scattered in small schools and starting to feed heavily in fairly shallow water. I was even starting to catch them trolling reaction lures like crankbaits and small hairless spoons.

But now, over the last few weeks, everything has changed. The fish that were feeding in ten to twenty feet of water throughout the day are now staging in water over thirty feet deep and negative. You can find success on calm days jigging spoons on lakes like Jordan, Harris and Falls. But it seems to be a time-specific thing, almost like summer where the bites only really come early and late…go figure. There are reports of bass hitting the banks as well. But as you can see from the dates the news isn’t great.

So I opted to try a few rivers over the last couple of weeks. I first tried the Haw, but the fishing was very slow, so I backed out of the shallows and found white bass, catfish and crappie by jigging in water around twenty feet deep. I did keep a few though…

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Then, I hit the Eno and the fishing was slow there as well, though I did have one double. I only caught seven white bass and one crappie, but again a few healthy specimens joined me for a hot oil bath. These fish, as you can see from the pics below, were hitting tiny in-line spinners and they would only hit the brown feathers that day. I spoke with other anglers who were having decent success with green grubs slow trolled along the bottom for crappie.

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Now, it’s almost time for me to start on the striped bass run, but with the chilly and windy weather of late, I haven’t been out much. I did get to the Cape Fear one day last week and caught one striper (feature photo) and several carp off corn. The fish were lethargic though and I released all of them.

Here is the link to the shocking surveys as of March 9th from the NCWRC. They focus on the Cape Fear, Roanoke, Neuse and Tar rivers. Shad are still showing up in decent numbers but the stripers are slow. The 2017 season on the Roanoke has started and you can find regs for all four rivers the fish run up on the linked site as well. This is a great resource, especially this time of year as you plan your river trips.

So get out there and be safe, the fishing should start to improve as we get out of this crazy week of weather. Who knows, next week it might be summer out there. Look for the trends and fish them!

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