Out and About in North Carolina's Woods and Waters

Archive for April, 2021

Outdoor Notes

Commercial Bluefish Regulations (?)

According to the a recent release from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, the daily commercial limit for bluefish is no more than “800 pounds of bluefish per day or per trip, whichever is more restrictive.” This comes at the same time that the daily limit for recreational anglers is 3 bluefish per angler per day.

Striped Bass Seasons on Roanoke River

The open season for harvest of striped bass in the Roanoke River Management Area has opened as of April 10 and will remain open through April 16 in the lower river zone (downstream of the U.S. Hwy. 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the mouth at Albemarle Sound. Open season will be April 24-30 in the upper river zone (upstream of the Hwy. 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the base of Roanoke Rapids Dam).

Size limits and daily creel limits will remain the same. During the two separate harvest periods, the minimum length is 18 inches and no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches (the protective slot) may be possessed at any time. The daily creel limit is two fish, only one of which may be larger than 27 inches.

Home Owners Should Prepare For Bat Roosting

According to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), “If you suspect bats may be living in your home, the NCWRC is asking that you relocate them responsibly before pup rearing seasons begins on May 1. Bat scat, called guano, is the most obvious indication that bats may be living in the gable vents, behind a shutter or in another nook around the outside or inside your home. If they’re getting inside, a licensed Wildlife Control Agent can safely evict them for you. You can find a list of licensed professionals on the Wildlife Commission website3, NCWildlife.org.

Cobia Fishing Regulations

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has announced that the open season for the recreational harvest of cobia will allowed in Coastal Fishing Waters from May 1 through December 31, 2021. Anglers may possess one cobia per day with each fish at least 36 inches fork length. Persons fishing on private (not for hire) vessels may retain 2 cobia per vessel per day (no more than 1 per person) from May 1 – June 30. From July 1 – Dec. 31, it is unlawful to possess more than one cobia per vessel per day. For-hire vessels may possess no more than four cobia per day (one per person) from May 1 – Dec. 31.

Hunting Seasons

Wild Turkey: through May 8; Limit is one bearded bird per day, two for the season.

Coyotes & Feral Hogs: no closed season

A Season of the Heart

A version of the following appeared in Halifax Media newspapers several years ago. But, as we enjoy what another spring has to offer, especially considering what we endured over the past twelve months, I think it is good to take another look at it. And to give thanks to The Almighty for allowing us to enjoy yet another vernal season.

On April 9, 1865 Gen. Robert E. Lee sat in the front room of Wilmer McLean’s house in Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia awaiting the arrival of Union General Ulysses S. Grant. About two and a half hours later, after signing a document that surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia and effectively ended the War Between the States, Lee walked out of the house and stood in the yard, gazing toward the distant hills where his beloved troops were camped.

Over the next few days, those Confederate soldiers would receive word of the surrender and what it meant for them. Some would cry; others would curse; but all would lay down their arms and prepare to head home to towns, villages and homesteads throughout the South. After four years of hardship and sacrifice, punctuated by moments of intense fear and rage, they had to feel immense relief that, unlike so many of their comrades, they had survived and would see their loved ones once again.

During the spring of the year, I occasionally find myself thinking about what it must have been like for those men at that moment in their lives. Ranging in age from teens not yet old enough to shave to grizzled old grandfathers, they were for the most part, experienced outdoorsmen who had grown up in the woods and on the water. Before they were swept up in the deadliest conflict in their country’s history and learned that spring was when armies traditionally began their major campaigns, those men of the South knew the season in a different way.

As they stood in the warmth of that April day, did they smell the sweet drift of jasmine just starting to bloom, or notice wisteria’s purple tresses adorning the trees along the roadside? Did those boys and men hear turkeys gobbling in the wooded creek bottoms when they went to fill their canteens and, if so, did it make them think of mornings spent stalking wary old toms back home in Alabama or the Carolina’s? Were the weary, sometimes sick or wounded soldiers aware of flocks of ducks passing overhead on their return to their summer nesting grounds – birds that were mercifully unaware of the suffering and carnage that had occurred on the ground below? Given their uncertain circumstances and all they had endured, could the men appreciate the coming of spring with its promise of peace and rebirth?

I find it hard to imagine what those men – on both sides – must have gone through during the terrible days of the Civil War. It’s easy, though, to look back over the years and feel a kinship with those who loved the out-of-doors, who saw magic in the coming of spring and all it has to offer. In that respect, little has changed over the past century and a half.

Regardless of what has gone before, spring in this part of the country is a special time for those who relish being out and about in the midst of Nature’s bounty. I well remember a spring adventure that took place on the South Fork of the New River. There are actually two New Rivers in North Carolina. The one in Onslow County is a slow-moving, coastal plain stream that has the distinction of being the only river in the state with its headwaters and its mouth in the same county. The New River in the mountains has an entirely different character. Thought by geologists to be the second oldest river in the world, it forms where mountain creeks merge near Boone, N.C. and flow northward. Where it cuts through West Virginia, it is a powerful, tumultuous stream with whitewater suitable only for experienced paddlers and those with a death wish.

However, near its headwaters in our state, the mountains’ New River is more benign and inviting. Sliding canoes in one April morning, four of us let the easy current in that stretch carry us between verdant hillsides and along rolling, grassy meadows as it wound its way into Ashe County. The clear, shallow water slid over gravel bars, cut under overhanging ledges and occasionally rippled where it formed Class I rapids that required some basic paddling maneuvers. The last were pleasant, invigorating diversions, far from threatening. The stream was a magic carpet made of crystal that let us ride along like privileged passengers on its incessant journey to bigger water and, eventually, the ocean.

That evening, we set up camp on a small island where the river channel split. Spring in the high country, even in the South, means cool temperatures at night and a crackling campfire and wool jackets were welcome. As we sat by the fire that evening, munching on Jiffy-Pop popcorn and laughing at corny jokes, a full moon began to peek from behind one of the nearby hills. Slowly its light spread across the meadow where we were camped, making a carpet of small purple wildflowers glow with an incredible iridescence, creating shadows where before there had been only solid darkness. We all became quiet as we sat, bathed in the light of the immense lunar orb and marveled at the power of The One who had created it.

I wonder if General Lee’s men thought about moonlit nights in the mountains or days spent sitting in the April sun. I think they probably did. If not at Appomattox, then later when all they had endured was only a memory and spring was once again a time to be cherished – a season of the heart and not of war.

Spring in the Appalachian highlands, as well as elsewhere in the South, is a time of renewal and rebirth – a season of the heart.

Tag Cloud