Celebrating 25 years of Joe Albea and 'Carolina Outdoors Journal'


Joe Albea stands with one of the youngest anglers ever featured on 'Carolina Outdoor Journal' at the 2017 Carolina Outdoor Expo in Greenville.


Tight Lines

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

In 1993, “Carolina Outdoor Journal” became a prime statewide TV venue that focused on fishing in North Carolina.

It has been filmed, narrated and produced by Joe Albea of Greenville for a quarter of a century now. A former cameraman for Franc White’s “Southern Sportsman,” Albea brought impressive experience and a good eye behind the camera, opening up the vast variety of fishing and beautiful state geography for anglers and nature lovers of North Carolina.

With those excellent credentials and his award-winning photography, videography and journalism achievements, the best attribute above all that is Joe Albea is just a darn nice guy, solidly grounded, meaning down to earth in the best way.

Through his excellent multi-media productions, he is truly a strong advocate for our state’s abundant and varied wildlife and their habitat, while gently educating viewers about environment and responsible conservation.

Viewing the “Carolina Outdoor Journal” is like taking a trip down North Carolina’s back roads into some of the prettiest geographical locations, from our rugged mountains, down rivers and streams, across our broad sounds and estuaries to our delicately honed coastal strands then beyond to our off-shore waters with a trusted native North Carolinian.

Even though you may be a stranger to Joe, meeting him still makes one feel as if you have known each other for ages, for he is just as warm and sincere as he is on the air with production partner, John Moore. These two native sons are the voices who encourage viewers to journey with them throughout our state, viewing what is uniquely wonderful about North Carolina’s variety vacation land.

In the past 25 years, they have brought those magical locations into the homes of many, inspiring several generations of new outdoor families and friends.

Your Tight Lines staff has covered the first two of Joe Albea’s Carolina Outdoor Expos in Greenville, with the third expo scheduled in January 2019. A devoted fan of “Carolina Outdoor Journal,” my wifey was thrilled to meet Joe again and to meet his wife at the first expo in 2017. She assures you that the Abea family really is as nice as they seem to be.

As an angler, she asked Joe what are his favorite fish to catch, as he has caught fish nearly everywhere in North Carolina. His response was quick and clear: Speckled Trout, American shad and Hickory Shad. Well, howdy do! That is just about what we would say, but in reverse order.

Let’s examine Joe’s favorite, Speckled Trout, a bit in detail to see what is so special.

Spotted seatrout — Cynoscion nebulosus — or speckled trout in Eastern North Carolina speak, are found from Virginia south to Florida and along the Gulf coast to Texas. Specks can live to be 10 years old or older, although most caught on a regular basis are about 4 to 5 years old. The larger, older fish are also called gator trout, the kind that win fishing tournaments for skilled, devoted anglers.

Beloved in Eastern North Carolina, the speckled trout is the most valuable coastal fish to the recreational industry. More money is spent by recreational anglers in pursuit of this popular trout than any other coastal species.

One of the reasons why is that they are excellent table fare. But for those who catch and release, it is just a fun fish to catch. They are as truly beautiful as they are a thrill on the end of your fishing line. Also nicknamed “papermouth,” the speckled fish takes a bit of finesse to hook and bring in.

As Joe and many fishing guides have warned, you just cannot jerk the line to set the hook and horse the fish in without tearing apart the mouth and losing the fish. It is a quietly honed skill, becoming a catcher of speckled trout.

Fortunately for the sport angler, it is a known fact that the spotted seatrout has never been a commercially dependable species of fish in North Carolina. Although available year-round, they are not targeted until late fall and throughout the winter, when schooling up in brackish streams. Sadly, large numbers of speckled trout may not survive harsh winter deep freeze events in coastal waters, which leads to moderate to massive fish kills, often causing the state Department of Marine Fisheries to close the season.

Well, Joe’s number two and three fish choices run in Eastern North Carolina rivers almost simultaneously. Hickory Shad begin their annual spawning run, arriving somewhere between mid-January and mid-February. The many fans of the shad run spend a good amount of time anticipating their arrival and cast perhaps hundreds to thousands of times to catch that first shad making their way up the rivers to their natal spawning grounds.

Mid-February to March begins the American, or white shad, run up the rivers. A considerably larger shad, it is an exciting fish to catch, providing a pull on your fishing line that is simply fun to repeat, over and over again.

Albea and his talented crew have spent countless days and hours chasing shad in the tributaries of the Neuse, Tar and Roanoke rivers. Close to his home, Joe finds great success with shad on Pitchkettle and Contentnea creeks off the Neuse River.

Pitchkettle is a truly beautiful setting, unlike any other, where cypress trees stand in those productive waters which empty into the Neuse River. It is a boater’s sanctuary, as there is little area suitable for bankside access for fishing.

One of Albea’s favorite shad holes is right on the Tar River in Edgecombe County, just downstream of Battle Park. Many mornings I’ve greeted Joe and crew as they arrive to film a shad catching episode. I have been honored to have Joe ask this Carolina angler how the shad are biting there or downstream near Tarboro or at Weldon.

When the Albea crew is successful, we are right proud that the intel was correct.

Be sure to watch Albea’s 25th season of “Carolina Outdoor Journal” on UNC TV. The upcoming schedule for this week and next includes Nov. 10’s “Surf Zone” — this week on the Journal they’ll fish for red drum over two days in the surf zone of Portsmouth Island.

In Gear Time, the anglers discuss the tackle and bait that caught fish, and Donna Reynolds prepares a southern filet recipe in the kitchen. Next week, on Nov. 17, “Autumn Bite” on the Journal they will fish a cold autumn morning for speckle trout. In Gear Time, their anglers discuss the lures that were effective that day, and Donna Reynolds prepares a recipe for shrimp cakes in the kitchen.

This is perfectly fine fishing, cooking and exploration of some of NorthVisit www.carolinaoutdoorjournal.com to learn more.

Rick's Soapbox — Thank you for being Tight Lines readers and for your support. We continue to ask that as you venture about our state, fishing and hunting, hiking or boating, that you help take care of our natural resources, becoming good stewards of the lands around you. Please do not litter but take some time to recycle and make locations you visit cleaner than you found them.

If you observe others not being good stewards, you can always use the state Department of Transportation’s Swat-a-Litterbug program: keepncbeautiful.org/take-action/swat-a-litterbug. Upon receipt of the litterbug information, the DOT will notify the vehicle owner of the littering offense, inform the vehicle owner of the penalties for littering and urge the litterbug to stop littering.

To obtain Swat-A-Litterbug cards, call 1-800-331-5864.

Fishing Success? Good for you! Give us all the nice details at carolinaangler@gmail.com. Large file full-size, high resolution fishy pix make us happy. Stay hydrated, keep warm and dry, and be careful out there. Autumnal weather on the water can be tricky and unforgiving. Don’t forget the sunscreen regardless of the season.

See you on the water, my friend.