'Everything Outdoors' at Carolina Outdoor Expo 2019


Mitchell Blake of FishIBX will once again head the Gold Sponsor list of prizes in the 2019 ninth annual Tight Lines First Tar River Hickory Shad Contest. Previous winners have asked if the contest is continuing, so we are happy to announce it is open now. So the big question is, will Ken Ruffin hold on to the trophy?


Tight Lines

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The third Carolina Outdoor Expo is now done and in the books.

We don’t have any official data, but based on observations and comparisons to the past two years, we would say goals were met and all went well. Congratulations to Joe Albea, John Moore and their team for another outstanding “Everything Outdoors” exposition.

With well over 100 exhibitors, there were plenty of interesting spots to stop, shop and chat with knowledgeable experts. From fishing and hunting, camping, boating, there were vendors from an African Safari to fabulous art and jewelry to all kinds of gorgeous new vehicles.

Then there were boats.

Since Wifey is considering a kayak, there were so many more this year. Seeing “Sold” tags on the display models, it affirms that fishing by kayak is really growing. A new boating item was quite thought provoking: A personal pontoon that can be paddled like a canoe or fitted with a motor. The price remains unknown.

Tight Lines was able to catch up with organizer and promoter, Joe Albea, and John Moore as well as fishing guides Richard Andrews Jr. and Mitchell Blake.

A quick stop at the state Wildlife Resources Commission booth was delightfully different, as the chef to WRC had braised some deer meat which was glazed with red pepper jelly. The aroma was absolutely intoxicating, while the sample bites were melt-in-your mouth tender, and piquancy of the pepper jelly glaze was just the perfect blend of sassy and sweet.

Wifey professed her love of anything with red pepper jelly, saying the only thing she hadn’t done — yet — was put it on vanilla ice cream.

Of course she should, said the chef. He recommended reducing balsamic vinegar to a thicker glaze, adding freshly ground black pepper, allowing cooling, then topping ice cream. Of course Wifey suggested adding tumeric to the glaze, creating an ice cream treat that would become a strong weapon against arthritis and inflammation.

Nothing like fresh wholesome fish, game, fruits and vegetables for healthy living.

Tight Lines is excited that Joe Albea and family are continuing their their support of our ninth annual Tight Lines First Tar River Hickory Shad Contest as a Gold Sponsor, with a goodie bag of four nice Carolina Outdoor Journal shirts and two COJ Cookbooks. Thank you!

Wifey asked about the COJ episode, which was broadcast on UNC-TV this past Saturday, featuring John Pechmann of Fayetteville catching some perfectly fat and sassy blue gills on a private pond in Cumberland County. That really caught our attention, as we had visited the John Pechmann Fishing Center, southwest of Fayetteville, just a year ago on a writing assignment for Wildlife in NC magazine.

So Wifey sought some clarification.

Joe Albea said that John Pechmann had died of a heart attack while fishing with his son just a week after filming that episode — and that was the first time a guest on his show had passed away before production had been completed or aired. Several featured guests have passed away after their stories had been broadcast but not before. The Pechmann family treasures that COJ episode and is pleased that John Pechmann’s legacy of fishing education continues into the future.

Pechmann was a member of the Wildlife Resources Commission, and he promoted using the state’s retired fish hatchery near Fayetteville as a site to educate young people about the art and sport of fishing. It is now a fishing education center that serves all the citizens of our state, especially Scouts, school groups and families.

Wifey visited the booth of Tarboro native, Richard Andrews Jr., now of Bath, where he operates Tar-Pam Guide Service. Andrews was a featured keynote speaker, offering wisdom about flounder fishing. Once again, Richard is also a Bronze sponsor of our 2019 Tight Lines First Tar River Hickory Shad Contest, offering a goody bag of his favorite soft baits and tackle. So we are thankful to have Tar-Pam Guide Service as a Bronze Sponsor. We certainly enjoy following TV episodes of fishing adventures with Richard.

With this being the advent of our long-awaited shad season, Wifey asked several seasoned anglers and vendors what they expected from the 2019 shad season, which usually begins in January or February running into late May or early June.

Tight Lines asked Mitchell Blake to predict the 2019 shad run across the rivers of central and northeastern North Carolina. Blake says it’s going to be an early run, that there’s plenty of places for fish to go because the water levels are adequate. As we spoke, the Tar River was at bank full in Tarboro and at a low flood stage across Pitt County.

Fall fishing had been negatively impacted by Hurricane Florence, and recovery has been slow. The water is good now, but traffic has not yet picked up.

Mitchell says, “It’s definitely time to get started on shad season. There’s a lot of good water out there, and it’s a matter of where they can get when the water is so high.” The water temperature has to be 55 degrees for spawning to be successful.

In the past hurricanes of 2017 and 2018, Susan’s Sweet Water Lake near Williamston did not flood so they didn’t lose fish. In fact, the Roanoke River basin did not have as much flooding is in previous seasons.There is good news in the Pamlico River basin: The water has cleared up and winter fishing is getting back to normal now..

Mitchell Blake reports customers catching 30 to 40-fish striper days, and some really great crappie fishing, but there’s just not lot of traffic out there now, because the season has been slow to recover from hurricane, although the water is ready and able. Actually that’s it in a nutshell. Rivers are ready and waiting, come on out!

The outdoor Expo changed its format from three days to two days. Tight Lines asked Mitch Blake if attendance was up or how did it go number wise? Mitch replied that he hasn’t heard specific numbers, but for the two days the expo had been running, the attendance had been good and the attendees are asking all the right questions and have a lot of interest.

We asked about the handmade baits on FishIBX displays. Doug Munford and Mitchell Blake have tied these really good looking flies.

Some are a mixture of synthetic fibers, deer hair and feathers, some are just synthetic fibers to achieve a longer length. He had sold some to customers as attention getters. These three are $6 each. Tying fishing flies is quite an art, often noted for being therapeutic.

Tight Lines is excited to announce that FishIBX is continuing as the lead Gold Sponsor in our 2019 ninth annual Tight Lines First Tar River Hickory Shad Contest, which begins this week until the First Hickory Shad is brought in to the rear entrance of Roberson & Dupree Shoe Store. It is a single-winner contest, for the all-important bragging rights and the possession of that handsome 30-inch winner’s trophy. There is no entrance fee nor registration. Only rule is the fish must be caught in the Tar River north of the N.C. 42 Bridge at Old Sparta.

The frigid weather this week will be a controlling factor in the timing of shad migrating up our beautiful Tar River.

Next week, we will review our previous winners and the dates their winning fish was caught.

Tight Lines Soapbox — It was reported and discussed at the Wildlife Resources Commission table at Expo about rules for striped bass on our eastern North Carolina rivers, with dates for closure of the season. More about that next week. You can review the proposed changes in the current issue of Eastern Living Magazine, which is available now.

We would really appreciate hearing your fishy tales and seeing your full size fish pictures. Send them to CarolinaAngler@gmail.com.

See you on the water, my friend.