Mike Sweeney: Boating safety course highly recommended

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In the winter when the fish are hard to find I prepare for the upcoming fishing season by working on my boat and my gear and improving my casting and knot-tying and other skills.

Tne thing a new boat owner can do to get ready for the season is to sign up for a boater education course.

Classes run by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission run throughout the year. The next two in our area are on Mar. 18 in Windsor and Mar. 24 at Merchants Mill Pond.

The course only takes a few hours of your time and at the end will certify you in boater safety, which may be required by the state.

General statute 75A-16.2, Boater safety course explains whether you need to be certified. Anyone who has ever been out on the water will tell you the Coast Guard will ask when they pull you over if you have taken the course.

The course is designed to teach the basics of navigation, safety on the water and even some instruction on boat launching.

The instructors are usually very helpful and will answer any question that you may have, along with answering some you may not ask.

I would advise all who wish to have a safe boating season to take the course even if you have had your boat for years and think you know it all. Perhaps you may just learn something new.

Check out the course schedule along with the rules and regulations at www.ncwildlife.org and sign up for the next class in your area.

What’s biting, where ...

The fishing reports from offshore have been looking up with some nice bluefin tuna caught from Oregon Inlet and Pirates Cove. We had fish up to 600 pounds brought to the back of the boats. They even caught a swordfish that weighed in at 650 pounds and was released. Now that is fishing.

On top of all the great action offshore we had a near shore boat catch some nice sized striper, so maybe it is the beginning of a great year of fishing after all.

We had a nonexistent ocean striper season but it may come back and give us a chance to make up for it. I will keep you posted if any more turn up.

In the sound the striper have all but disappeared but I have had some reports that throwing enough Rattle Traps in the right places will catch a fish or two. I heard that the fish have not made it up the Roanoke River yet, but if you hit the power lines just outside the river mouth they are staging to make it up there.

I would love to hear from the guys all the way up the river, so if you fish up there send me a fishing report to fishingwithmike921@yahoo.com and let me know how you are doing.

Locally you have the slab crappie taking the main stage with fish being caught on the main river and up the creeks. Dave and the guys at the Bait Barn in Currituck have been saying the fish on the main river are about 2 to 3 feet deep with live shiners on multiple rods taking the fish.

In the creeks, fish the wood or docks with small tubes and jigs but don’t forget to try the small swim baits by Storm lures. They look just like a shiner and the one bait can catch fish all day.

There is also a catfish bite right now that has fish coming to the boat over 20 pounds. Cut eel and big shiners are paying off with these monsters and if you are any good at it there is a tournament coming up in Moyock on Mar. 16 at 1407 Tulls Creek Road. If you want more details call Kris at 252-619-0500 and let him know I sent you.

If you get out, send me pictures and a report at my email or hit me up on Facebook at Fishing with Mike and let me know the details.

Mike Sweeney is a fisherman who lives in Elizabeth City