Step Outside - North Carolina WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - North Carolina 144 144 Sun, 22 Jul 2018 15:36:48 -0500 5 Great Paddleboarding Spots in North Carolina Paddleboarding is a therapeutic sport. In the beautiful waters of North Carolina, with its scenic views of surrounding nature, you’ll embark on a memorable paddleboarding journey. It’s time to get outside, work on your core strength, and enjoy the views. Here are five great spots for paddleboarding in the state. 

View the Outer Banks through a stand-up paddleboard tour provided by the Outer Banks Kayak Adventures. New to paddleboarding? No problem! No experience is necessary and it makes for a great experience for all ages. It is inexpensive to rent a board—$40 for half a day or $55 for the whole day. The waters are calm and the tour guides are knowledgeable. This relaxing spot is great for those of all experience levels and makes for a grand family outing while getting some sun. 

Paddle the Neuse River in a beautiful, memorable experience great for the whole family. Either a short or long trip, the gentle currents of the river allow for a relaxing journey. The staff of Paddle Creek are laid back and friendly, as well as knowledgeable. If paddleboarding is not a familiar activity for you, they are more than happy to help you get started. 

The lake of Oak Hollow Lake Park is easily accessible and close to two large cities of North Carolina: Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Paddle the clear blue waters in a family friendly location. The lake is peaceful and offers a nice breeze to keep you cool. As you paddle, there is a great view of the beautiful scenery and you may even find a duck or two to admire. Bring your own paddleboard or feel free to rent one for the day for $15. The launch fee at Oak Hollow Lake is $7. An inexpensive paddleboarding experience on the lake without the hassle so you can relax and enjoy. 

A river consisting of approximately seven miles, check into the office before setting off on your own adventure. Normally, it takes anywhere from two to three hours, but take your time and enjoy the paddle trip. As you paddle, enjoy the views of the various wildlife and greenery and the Biltmore House. If you are not ready for the end of the experience, Hominy Creek park is open for a rest or lunch break. Access to the river is $5 for each person. Your trip is self-guided so paddle and explore for yourself. 

Roughly 35 miles from Downtown Asheville, this beautiful river flowing through the mountains is suitable for a variety of skill levels. Set about half of your day aside to paddle through during any season and enjoy the nature around you. The upper level is great for skilled paddlers and is complete with rapids and drops. The narrows, also great for those with a bit of experience, features boulders and rapids. If you are a beginner, the lower area is great for you with beautiful views for seven miles. 

CroMary/ Thu, 19 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Gorgeous Beach Campsites in North Carolina North Carolina is well known for its beautiful beaches, complete with rolling waves and soft sand. And what’s better than laying out under the stars on these sandy beaches and falling asleep to the sounds of the water? To experience the natural beauty to its fullest, visitors and locals alike can camp on North Carolina’s stunning shoreline. Here are five gorgeous campsites in in the state.  

In close proximity to the beach and charming beach towns, the Oak Island Campground is a great way to enjoy the beach. Camp out at the sites by renting a camper or bringing your own. While visiting the campsite, visitors have access to amenities such as full-service hookups for RVs, the laundry room, and Wi-Fi. The staff members of the grounds are personable, and the area is family and pet-friendly. The welcoming atmosphere makes it a great, affordable campsite to easily access the beautiful beaches of Brunswick. 

With unbeatable deals for how close you are to the beach, camp out by RV or tent at the Surf City Family Campground. This oceanfront campground is cozy, quiet, and a family-friendly location. The campground is beachside and highly accessible. Listen to the waves, feel the sea breeze, and experience nature right on the beautiful shore of North Topsail Beach. 

The Waterway Family Campground is an incredible way to camp and experience the beach in a new way with 22 waterfront sites open for camping from April to November. The campgrounds are well-maintained and priced so that your camping trip does not break the bank. Enjoy the Intracoastal Waterway not only for the gorgeous waters but for the cozy, quiet atmosphere of the campground amazing for making memories. 

Camp Hatteras is a beachfront campsite with access to not only the beach, but several amenities to add to your trip. Enjoy the short walk to the waves and sand of the beach and then on the campsite, enjoy the Wi-Fi and pool. The campgrounds and beach are beautiful, allowing you to see all beauty nature offers during your stay. A plus to the area: The beach is dog-friendly so that furry family members can join in on the fun too.

The award-winning Carolina Beach State Park gives camp enthusiasts the opportunity to set up at tent and trailer campsites, campsites with full hookups for RVs or the chance to rent out a camper cabin to sleep up to six people. Each campsite up for grabs is spacious for your needs and tent campers can even purchase firewood for the chillier nights out. Open year-round, experience the beautiful beach, hiking trails, marina and more. The park is well-maintained, affordable, and an incredible place to pitch a tent near the beach and under the stars for a night or two.  

Dean Drobot/ Thu, 19 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Energizing Hikes in North Carolina Hikes are an excellent way to get out and exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and to motivate you. Whether you are up for a hike to get a workout in or you are ready to explore with a longer hike, North Carolina’s trails are full of beauty. Here are five hikes in North Carolina for when you are ready to get out and get energized.  

This hike is a moderately challenging adventure with spectacular views along the way. Enjoy the sunshine, smell of wildflowers, and the possibility to spot wildlife on this roughly 2.5-mile trail. With all the amenities, you are sure to feel energized during your hike and refreshed after your hike. For the optimal hike, the trail is best March through November. Bring the kids or the family dog too! Sam Knob Trail of the Pisgah National Forest is sure to be your new favorite hiking trail with the stunning views. 

With mostly moderate terrain, the High Falls hike at DuPont State Recreational Forest is a truly memorable one. According to its site, High Falls descends 120 feet down an inclined plane of granite. Glorious views of the falls and covered bridge are available from the picnic shelter. The total distance here is only about half a mile, but the terrain can be a bit rough. 

This hike boasts gorgeous views of Whiteside Mountain. The trail is spotty in certain areas, but it surely is an invigorating one. For 2.5 miles, reconnect with nature while exploring the flowers of North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest. A moderately challenging trail, the views are worth every bit of effort you exert. The Summit Rock views are breathtaking. 

The River Run Trail of the New River State Park is a moderate hike of 1.4 miles in total. As you hike the trail, view the brush of the forest and the mountainside. At the river’s edge, you can enjoy the beautiful tranquility of the water before beginning your hike back. Although this trail is one way, it is a great hike for a boost of energy and has plenty to see both on the way to the river and on the way back. 

Another moderate hike for those who want to enjoy the outdoors for a bit longer, the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest Loop Trail (which is actually two loop trails) is also a part of the Nantahala National Forest. Travel the figure-eight loop for a two-mile hike through the greenery, view the plaque of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial, and you can even bring a lunch to stop for a picnic. The trail is great for watching the birds and viewing the forest’s other wildlife as you walk.  

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5 Best Dirt Motorcycle Trails in North Carolina North Carolina is home to lovely wooded areas and open spaces with endless dirt biking trails to explore. From pristine trails to muddy paths, all levels of skill can enjoy the dirt biking opportunities in North Carolina. Enjoy miles of nature with the wind in your hair with these five great dirt motorcycle trails. 

Trails for every type of rider: beginner, amateur, and expert, Brushy Mountain Motor Sports Park has no noise limit and approximately 50 miles of single track open to riders. Heavily wooded and with marked trails, motorcycles have access to about 40 more miles of trail, 100 miles of trails in the Brushy Mountains total and the park makes up a total of 1,700 acres. A one-day pass will cost each individual $25, but memberships to the park are also sold. Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, grab your helmet and head down for a weekend of riding.

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North Carolina Motorsports Park, located in Henderson, North Carolina, is open every day from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. This motorsports park offers riders marked, manmade trails. Terrain types within the trail system differs between changes in elevation, hills, crossings, and more. Most trails are for those with a little experience but there is a one-mile beginner loop for those just starting out. Club membership is required for access with two different options to choose from. The daily fee with persons aged eight and older is $30. With an annual membership fee of $40, every visit afterwards for riders age eight and older is $25. 

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The Wayehutta has 24 miles of marked trails with some sections that add difficulty to the ride. Open from April 1 through Dec. 15, the trail offers an inexpensive day out in nature to ride and view the beautiful scenery Cullowhee has to offer, including the waterfall. The day fee to ride is $5 per vehicle but seasonal passes are also available for purchase. Both passes are to be bought at the Caney Fork General Store, Nantahala Ranger District Office or Top Cat Grocery.

Located in New Bern, the Black Swamp OHV Trail is an eight-mile trail open year-round to riders. Trail permit required, there is a $5 per day fee. Of the Croatan National Forest, the Black Swamp OHV Trail is mainly flat terrain but is known to get muddy after rain. If you want to stick around for a bit, you are in luck. Camping is allowed in some areas. 

A trail designed for trail bikes, the Brown Mountain OHV Trail, is open to riders April through Jan 1. The area has 34 miles of marked and maintained single track trails. Trail pass is necessary for riders at $5 per rider. Do not forget your helmet because it is required and pack your camping equipment if you would like to camp out. 

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10 Best Outdoor Festivals in North Carolina The great outdoor festivals of North Carolina feature everything from birdwatching to hiking to boating and more. And North Carolina’s varied landscapes brings outdoor enthusiast’s a little bit of everything. To get a little closer to nature, check out the best outdoor festivals in the state! 

This incredible weekend-long event features some of the best activities of the outdoor world: trail races, rock climbing, SUP yoga, and lots of live music and fireworks to make your weekend a hit. Plus, all the regular water sports like rafting and kayaking will be open.

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This highly-anticipated annual bicycle race is not for those afraid of heights. Riders climb 61 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains before crossing the finish line on the top of Beech Mountain. However, they do offer alternate routes of 23 miles are 44 miles for those who aren't quite ready to conquer the ultimate mountain bike ride.

This creatively-named festival is dedicated to all things fishing. Taking place in the Trout Capital of North Carolina, fishing guides and vendors will be on-site handing out their expertise. Craft beer vendors, food trucks, a farmer’s market, and other activities will also join the festival fun, along with live music from A Social Function and Fireside Collective. The event is free to the public—donations are appreciated and encouraged.

This wildlife festival brings you closer to some of your favorite animals. Children and adults alike will love seeing bald eagles, reptiles, wolves, bears, and other creatures in person, some of which offer hands-on encounters. Held at the Sapphire Valley Resort, you can combine your visit with a vacation in the mountains and make a fun-filled weekend from your experience.

No, there aren’t any dangerous dragons at this festival, but the dragonesque boats in the water might have you look twice. This one-day festival in May features the ancient Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing, along with Asian dancers and musicians and other cultural exhibits. It’s part sporting event, part cultural festival that will thrill and enlighten.

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Taking place on the scenic black water Lumber River, this water race lets you choose your vessel: raft, canoe, or kayak. Spring to the finish line via the river or embark on a 5K trail run. Other festival activities include a Build Your Own Raft contest, free canoe rides, live music, kid’s games and activities, inflatables, and plenty of food to go ‘round.

Who knew stand up paddleboarding could be worth $20,000? This SUP Cup is part of the Annual Beaufort Music Festival, offering fun events for the whole family. They’re offering free clinics for kids and all skills levels the day before the race. Try your luck—you could win big!

Take your love for the outdoors to new heights at this epic hot air balloon festival. Free to the public, you can marvel at the mass takeoff of more than 30 hot air balloons and enjoy competitive balloon flights. Live music, an arts and crafts village, and a Chef’s Challenge are also scheduled to be part of the entertainment.

This isn’t your typical outdoorsy festival, but hikers and non-hikers alike will love the free guided hikes to discover hidden mines that make up much of the town’s heritage. This three-day geological festival is unlike any other in North Carolina. Gem mining, panning for gold, live mountain music, kid’s outdoor treasure hunt, and mine tours are just a few of the highlights. Best of all, you’ll be surrounded by the beautiful natural scenery of the area with plenty of photo ops.

This one-day event is a hidden gem in Eastern North Carolina. Paddlers can hop aboard canoes or kayaks and float down Fishing Creek, soaking up its rich history and beautiful surrounds. In fact, some folks have found shark teeth on its shores. If you don’t have your own vessel, there will be some available to rent. Paddlers of any skill level can enjoy this relaxing, enjoyable event.

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5 Best Fishing Holes in North Carolina Take the day off, set up your line, and go fishing! The state of many beaches and lakes, North Carolina offers its tourists and locals a wealth of opportunity to reel in that big catch. Whether you prefer fishing offshore, taking the boat out for a spin, or canoeing or kayaking, there is a spot for you. Here are five great places to cast a line in North Carolina. 

Lake Tomahawk Park of small town Black Mountain is home to a cozy lake that is not only breathtaking with a view of the mountains, but a great fishing spot. Grill out, cast the line in the water, and even bring the little ones along for the fun! This family-friendly fishing hole consists of 4.5 acres of lake to fish in, or boat with your motor-less boat if you are into that. The shallow lake is for fishing only so you will get the most out of this spot. Also at the park is a trail around the lake wonderful for walking, a pool, a playground, picnic tables, and two tennis courts. Grab your rods and come out to Lake Tomahawk for a family day on the lake! Please remember that you need a fishing license before you go. 

“Bass fishing haven,” Lake Norman offers a brilliant fishing spot for its well-known largemouth, striped, white, and spotted bass as well as other fish like blue and flathead catfish, black crappie, bluegill, and yellow perch. Cast from the shoreline, canoe, or kayak, or take your boat out through one of the several launch places on Lake Norman. At the lake, you can lodge, set up shop through the camp or utilize the RV hookups. If you need to stock up on bait and supplies, stop by Carolina Fishing Tackle in Mooresville. They will set you up for a day of success. 

The 1,470-acre Lake Glenville has a plethora of fish, ranging from largemouth and smallmouth bass to black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, rainbow trout, and walleye. At the lake, launch your boat off the ramp to enjoy a day on the beautiful water. There are both convenience and bait and tackle stores nearby to stock up before your day out. A great option is Brookings Anglers in Cashiers, North Carolina. Here, you can stock up on all the gear you’ll need. Looking to stick around? Lake Glenville has campgrounds, you can hook up your RV or you can lodge. If you have the chance, take a peek at the gorgeous falls of Lake Glenville. 

Located near the Great Smoky Mountains, Fontana Lake is popular for boating, fishing, and swimming enthusiasts. The lake has boat rentals for those ready to ride and a launch ramp. For those looking to stay and enjoy the beautiful scenery a little longer, campsites and other lodging are available. Primary fish to catch in Fontana Lake are largemouth and smallmouth bass, spotted bass, black crappie, bluegill, brown trout, channel and flathead catfish, muskie, rainbow trout, steelhead, sunfish, walleye, and yellow perch. Nearby, dine at restaurants such as the Stecoah Diner for a full stomach. Find bait shops nearby as well, including the always-reliable Great Smokey Mountain Bait and Tackle in Bryson City.

A lake of 1,600 acres, Nantahala is a fishing spot of kokanee salmon, the only lake of the south to have them. As well as kokanee salmon, you’ll find largemouth, striped, and smallmouth bass, blue catfish, black crappie, bluegill, brook, brown, and rainbow trout, catfish, walleye, and yellow perch. In the Nantahala National Forest, the lake provides anglers with lodging, RV hookups, campsites, and boat rentals. To grab gear and supplies before you hit the water, stop at Bryant Bait and Tackle. This is “the one and only hunting and fishing store on Nantahala Lake.” 

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SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Crowders Mountain State Park No matter the time of year, Crowders Mountain State Park is a sight to behold. With stunning pastures and towering cliffs, the diversity of this park makes for a truly unforgettable adventure. Hike the trails, camp out, and explore all of the exciting surrounding attractions. Here are the best things to do in and around the park. 

Crowders Mountain State Park sprawls across more than 5,000 acres. The park will envelope you in miles of gorgeous forests and stunning mountain views. Whether you’re looking for an invigorating hike or a night under the stars, there’s plenty to do in this beautiful park.

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Begin your adventure at the visitor center and fill up all water bottles before your nature trip. Let the Pinnacle Trail take you approximately three miles through a rocky, natural trail that features gorgeous wildflowers, opportunities to spot wildlife, and breathtaking views that make this strenuous hike well-worth that bit of extra effort. The most difficult leg of your journey will be the last piece of the hike with the steeper climb, a rise in elevation, and rockier terrain. Named one of the best views of the countryside, the climb is beyond worth the picture-perfect view. 

Rough it out for the night on one of the several family and group campsites just off the trail. Open year round to eager campers, the campsites have accessible restrooms, lockers of firewood for $5 per locker, and water spigots. The family camp is just off the Pinnacle Trail by taking the Family Camp Trail. To access the Group Camp, follow the Family Camp Trail and veer off and follow the Group Camp Trail. The campsites are just off the park office and tucked in the beautiful state park, making each area private for your stay. 

The Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia is a great educational stop all ages can enjoy. Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m., explore indoor and outdoor exhibits. Permanent indoor exhibits are the Hall of North Carolina Natural History, Hall of North American Habitats, and the Hall of North American Wildlife. The outdoor exhibits include the Nature Trail, Memorial Wildlife Garden, Catawba Indian Village, Stone Age Heritage Site and the 18th Century Backcountry Farm. The exhibits include their own unique displays for visitors to enjoy information of both history and science. 

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The Rankin Lake Park is a great destination of Gastonia that provides guests with picnic shelters, a disc golf course, courts to play horseshoe, a trail, and 80 acres of lake that have two fishing piers, and a lake office to help visitors rent boats such as canoes, kayaks, and pedal boat. This neatly-kept park on the lake is great for fishing, boating or just to enjoy a gorgeous view of the water.

The final stop of the area around Crowders Mountain State Park that is a must-see is the Kings Mountain Little Theatre. Remodeled in years 2011 and 2012, watch history come to life through the amazing performances put on through the incredible acting, costumes, and more. 

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5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in North Carolina Birdwatching is a magical way to connect with nature. Across the state of North Carolina, avid birders will find peaceful places to catch sight of everything from great horned owls to American oystercatchers. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might just see something amazing. Here are the best birdwatching hikes in North Carolina. 

The Skyline Trail of Chimney Rock State Park is a scenic opportunity to bird watch. During the summer season, the park carries up to 15 different types of warbler and vireo. Often, as soon as you pull up and park, the birds are in the treetops just watching and waiting for you to discover them. The Skyline Trail is a beautiful scene with a little over one-mile hike. The trail along your birdwatching journey offers a moderate hike of natural ground and gravel. 

This gorgeous lake is a bird sanctuary with a two-mile trail around it. Easy to navigate, the trail offers a great walk, so you can focus on the birds and other nature North Asheville has to offer. With a peaceful environment, you can listen to the beautiful sounds of the songbirds. Beaver Lake is a hidden paradise of Asheville to enjoy the water, birds, and a well-maintained trail. 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has one of the highest numbers of different breeds of bird species in the country, making it a wonderful spot to hike and watch for the birds. You can find up to 60 species year-round in the national park, and new birds are still being discovered every day. With plenty of long hikes right in the heart of the park, you’re sure to spot something incredible. For more information about the trails, check their website.    

Of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, walk the out-and-back route of North Pond Wildlife Trail. The trail, approximately 1.2 miles in length, is an easy walk with wonderful birds to enjoy. Bring your binoculars and camera to capture the incredible views along your walk. You can find American oystercatchers, least terns, and a variety of migratory birds. 

Open year-round and with plenty to discover, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was formed to preserve and protect the wetlands of the area. Not only that, but the refuge helps to protect a variety of wildlife species that call the Alligator River home. Among those protected wildlife species are the endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. The refuge also provides a habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Travelers will find two great nature trails to explore and could catch sight of a barred owl, black-throated green warbler, blue grosbeak, great blue heron, and much more! 

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A beginner’s guide: Ice fishing Vin T. Sparano, as excerpted from Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid



Ice fishing differs greatly from open-water fishing, and it is a demanding sport. It requires an understanding of and an ability to cope with winter weather, knowledge of the cold-weather habits of the fish, and the use of an unusual assortment of gear, most of it unique to ice fishing.

There are two basic ice-fishing methods: tip-up fishing and jigging. In general, tip-ups are usually used on larger fish—pike, pickerel, walleyes, trout, and such—that prefer bait and require the angler to play the waiting game. Jigging is usually preferred for smaller fish that tend to school up—bluegills, perch, crappies, and the like. But these are merely generalizations, not hard-and-fast rules. For example, jigging (sometimes called chugging) is often quite productive on big lake trout and salmon in the Great Lakes. 

Also called tilts, these come in various styles, but they all perform two basic functions: they hold a baited line leading from a revolving-type reel spool, and they signal the bite of a fish. The most common type of tip-up consists of three strips of wood, each about 18 inches long. Two are cross pieces that form an X as they span the hole. The third piece is an upright; at its bottom end is attached a simple line-holding spool, while the upper end holds the signaling device. The signal is usually a piece of very flexible spring steel with a red (some anglers prefer black) flag on the end. After the hook is baited and lowered to the desired depth, the steel arm is “cocked”—bent over and down and hooked onto a “trigger.” When a fish strikes, an arm on the revolving spool releases the steel arm and it flies erect.

In this type of tip-up, the reel is positioned underwater. In other variations, the reel is positioned above the ice. Each type has its advantages. The above-the-ice reel can be more sensitively adjusted for light-biting fish, but the line tends to freeze on the reel once it gets wet. The underwater reel largely eliminates the problem of freezing, but the fisherman must remove the tip-up from the hole before he can grab the line.

Baits for tip-up fishing are usually live. In general, it pays to match the size of the bait to the size of the fish you’re after. Baits range from tiny maggots (often called mousies) and grubs for panfish, to worms and small minnows for walleyes, and up to 6-inch baitfish for pike. 

As done by ice fishermen, jigging is simply a method of imparting an up-and-down movement to a lure or bait. Jigging can be—and is—done with any sort of line-holding rod or stick. 

Some jigging rods—more appropriately called sticks—are simply pieces of wood 18 inches or so long, with U-shaped notches in each end. The line—10-pound-test monofilament is very popular—is wound lengthwise onto the stick around the U-shaped notches and is paid out as needed. There are other types of jigging sticks of varying designs, and many ice anglers use standard spinning or spincast rods or the butt half of a fly rod. 

Rods made specially for ice jigging are simple affairs consisting of a fiberglass tip section that is 2 or 3 feet long seated in a short butt. The butt may have a simple revolving-spool reel or merely a pair of heavy-wire projections around which the line is wound. The tip section may have two to four guides, including the tip guide. The shortness of such a rod lets the user fish up close to the hole and have better control over the lure or bait at the end of his line. 

There are many and varied jigging lures and baits, but flashiness is built into most of them. Others produce best when “sweetened” with bait. Two popular jigging lures are: an ungainly looking critter with a heavy body shaped and painted to resemble a baitfish, a hook at each end and a treble hook in the middle of its underside, and a line-tie ring in the middle of its upper surface; and a long, slim, three- or four-sided, silvery model with a treble hook at one end and a line-tie ring at the other. 

Jigging methods vary with the fisherman and with the fish being sought. However, a productive way to fish many jigging lures, especially flashier types, is to twitch the lure slightly and then jerk it suddenly upward with a quick upward movement of the arm. The proper interval between jerks is learned with experience. 

Popular jigging baits include a single perch eye (either impaled on a small hook or used to sweeten a tiny hair or rubber-bodied ice fly), worms, grubs, maggots, insect larvae, minnows, and cut bait (pieces of skin or flesh that are cut from the tail or body of such fish as smelt and perch). 

Jiggers tend to move around more than tip-up fishermen, boring holes in different areas until they find a productive spot. 

Like most other forms of fishing, ice angling requires some auxiliary equipment. Most ice anglers prefer to keep such gear to a minimum, for they have to haul it with them wherever they go on the ice. 

If you’re going to fish through holes in the ice, you need something to make those holes. The ice auger is a popular tool for this job. Augers come in different designs. One has a long handle with a U-shaped bend at the top, and a rounded cutting blade at the bottom. The handle is turned much like that of a manual drill, and the blade cuts a round hole through the ice. Another type looks like a giant ice drill with sharp, widely spaced threads. It is used in the same way. Gasoline-powered ice drills are also available. 

Then there’s the ice spud or chisel. This is a heavy metal handle with a large, chisel-type blade at the bottom. The spud’s weight helps the angler punch down through the ice, but the user must shape the hole once he has broken through. 

An indispensable item of accessory gear is the ice skimmer, a ladle-type device that is used to keep the hole clear of ice chips and chunks and to skim ice. A heavy sinker will serve the same purpose. 

Many ice anglers like to use an attached spring clip. It is attached to the fishing line and used to determine the water depth—an important factor because in winter most game fish are found on or near the bottom. 

Winter is the time of year when ice fishermen venture out onto frozen waters. Most will have fun, but a few will get into trouble because they don’t know how to make sure that the ice is safe. The first rule is never take chances. There are two periods when accidents are likely to happen: early in the season when slush ice doesn’t freeze uniformly and late in the season when ice melts at an uneven rate. It takes prolonged periods of freezing to make ice safe. Here are some rules to remember: 

Be cautious of heavy snowfalls while ice is forming. Snow acts as an insulator. The result is a layer of slush and snow on top of treacherous ice. 

Clear, solid river ice is 15 percent weaker than clear lake ice. 

River ice is thinner midstream than near the banks. 

River mouths are dangerous because currents create pockets of unsafe ice. 

When walking with friends, stay 10 yards apart. 

Lakes that have a lot of springs will have weak spots of ice. 





About the author:

Vin T. Sparano is the author of Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia as well as three other guides for Rizzoli

He has been an outdoor editor and writer for more than fifty years. He is editor emeritus of Outdoor Life, and has written and edited more than fifteen books about the outdoors. In 2013, he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in North Carolina Before you hit the water for your catch of the day, every fisherman must have the right equipment to do so! Fully stock your tackle box with line, hooks, bobbers, sinkers, worms, lures, pliers and more to make your fishing trip a successful one. Bait your hook and cast your line with the 10 best bait and tackle shops in North Carolina.

Dutchman Creek of Southport is a family-owned business that has served the fishers in the area for more than two decades. Fishing hot spots in the Southport-Oak Island area are plentiful and require the right gear and Dutchman has all you could need. And if they don’t? They will get it for you! Come in for all your bait and tackle needs from bulk line and hooks to swivels and more—all at reasonable prices. 

Stop by Intracoastal Angler of Wilmington and “see why Intracoastal Angler is your best stop for your outdoor adventures!” Shop line, rods, reels, baits, lures, and coolers to store those fish in to name a few. The store carries a huge selection of brands and goods. A fisherman who takes out the boat or who fishes on the shore, you will find what you need. And not only that, but the store has superb service! 

At Joe’s, all your fishing needs are met. The fishing store that puts the customer first, receive nothing short of amazing service. Knowledgeable about everything outdoors, find the perfect live bait, tackle, and more to get you out on the water. 

Chasin’ Tails Outdoors of Atlantic Beach has the most knowledgeable of the waters including those who are charter captains, experienced fishermen, and tournament anglers. Shop name brand equipment including but not limited to boat supplies, hooks, lures, nets, rakes, rigs, and apparel including hats, t-shirts, and visors. Weigh in that huge reel-in of the day at the official weigh station! 

Shop with excellent customer service and an equally excellent supply of fishing needs. This full-service tackle shop has everything from rods and reels to lures, line, cast and landing nets, apparel, and bait pins. A fisherman who is particular with his or her brands? No problem at East Side! East Side stocks over a dozen different brands. At affordable prices, prepare for your inshore and offshore adventures.  

Baits, fishing line, lures, reels, and fish attractants galore! Shop 84 brands (at least!) at the fishing store opening seven days to get you on the water any day of the week. Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., get in, get out and get on the water to cast your line and reel in a fish or two. 

A perfect stop on the Outer Banks, this great tackle shop includes incredible service and all the right fishing equipment. Whether you need knowledge of the area, fishing advice or the right gear, Red Drum has you covered. Bait, ice, tackle, and rods, shop the “Oldest Complete Tackle Shop at Cape Hatteras.”

T.W.’s Bait and Tackle of Nags Head is a friendly stop before taking the boat or taking a stroll to the water. Fishing hooks, line, lures, reels, and rods, reasonably priced fishing equipment is right at your fingertips. Don’t forget the knives, tackle box, and other various fishing accessories while you are in!

Every fisher’s paradise, Rigged and Ready carries a large selection of name brand fishing gear such as reels, rods, and lures. Brands include but are not limited to Berkley, Bimini Bay, American Fishing Wire, Penn, and much more.  

Don’t let the outside look fool you, this small building has the gear to supply all your fishing needs. Local information on the best fishing spots or assistance getting what you need, Ray’s is a classic stop for fishing gear at great prices.

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10 Best Archery Outfitters in North Carolina No matter if you’re an expert archer or simply a prospective one, the right gear is essential. From target shooting to hunting big game, you’re going to need high-quality bows, arrows, and accessories for a successful and safe experience. Gear up with the best at these 10 archery outfitters in North Carolina. 

New to archery or experienced with a bow, Bowsmithe is a one-stop shop for apparel, bows, and tree stands. An authorized dealer for Bowtech, Mathews, Mossy Oak, and Browning, they are fully stocked with everything you need. A knowledgeable, patient staff is ready to gear you up with the best. 

Just me and my beau❤️ We're ready for deer season!🦌🏹

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Terry’s Archery Plus of Ernul, North Carolina, offers you fast, friendly service for your archery necessities. Bows, crossbows stabilizers, releases, arrow rests, and nocks are all carried in several different, trusted brands. Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., excellent customer service is always available to give you advice, offer help with archery equipment, and go beyond your expectations. 

Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, First Flight Archery offers archery equipment, gear, and classes to take “your skill to the next level.” With insightful bow and string services, First Flight is a great place for every archer of all backgrounds. 

First indoor round in a while #chasing300

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Prepare for your next adventure with a wide range of products and services at Droptine Archery. Products include bows, crossbows, arrows, bolts, tree stands and plenty of accessories to properly supply you. Services at Droptine Archery are amazing for repairs to bows, strings, cables, and more. Droptine also provides a wonderful space to hone your skills.  

Really love watching so many people love archery🎯🏹#fullhouse

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8 Point Archery Outdoors of Hendersonville has anything and everything to prepare an archer. Take a class, repair your equipment in store, practice on the three acres of practice areas, and shop various archery products. Arrows, arrow rests, bows, broadheads, clothing, quivers, sights and scopes, stabilizers, targets, and accessories all await you. Open since 2004, 8 Point Archery is family owned and ready to supply you with high-qualiyu archery equipment. 

2018 Bear Kuma #badlandscamo #legionseries

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The incredible service of Cooper’s Trading alone makes it a must-visit for archery enthusiasts. Patient staff members answer your questions, concerns and help you choose from all kinds of products. Bow hunters, tournament archers, or hobbyists will all find this paradise a comfortable setting to start something new or continue a passion. 

Used Bow Heaven . . . . . #bow #archery #elitearchery

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Buttermilk Creek Outfitters goes above and beyond to provide excellent customer service, great prices, and all the right equipment. Service includes priceless advice and answers to your questions and assists with your equipment. Head over to Buttermilk Creek Outfitters to suit up and get to shooting. 

An archery pro shop, archery services, and ranges, Boneyard Archery is a sportsman’s heaven. Shop the best selection of bows, strings, arrows, and sights. Located in Madison, North Carolina, shop and let the staff members go the extra mile to prepare you properly. Services include customization, lessons, repairs, and practice ranges indoors and outdoors. 

Serving the Mineral Springs, North Carolina, area for almost half a century, receive the best service and shop the best brands of products. Products include bows, arrows, sights, arrow rests, release aids, broadheads, and additional accessories for both hunting and target archery. To prep or repair, Skip’s Archery provides customers with repair to bow or string, bow tuning and initial bow set up. 

Archery supplies galore, shop Gods Country Archery for everything archery related. Bows, arrows, bowstrings, stabilizers, release aids, broadheads, archery accessories, and apparel are all high-quality, trusted products to meet your needs and exceed your expectations. Services of Gods Country Archery give you the opportunity to receive custom tuning, adjustments to your equipment, and amazing knowledge from the friendly staff of the Gods Country team. 

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Camping Done Right: 7 Best Outdoor Stores in North Carolina Let’s hit the trail and go camping! Having the right gear for your camping trip is important and the gear can make or break your camping trip. Make sure you have everything you need from tents and sleeping bags to backpacks to carry it all with these seven best outdoor stores in North Carolina.

The original outdoor store in western North Carolina, prepare for your next camping trip with bags and packs, health products, shelters, hydration, sleeping bags, trekking poles, and climbing gear. For bags and packs, carry your essentials in style with various options of duffle, backpacks for men and women, dry bags, and hip packs. Shop the assorted brands that have trusted since the start in 1964 to aid your camping trip.

Great Outdoor Provision Co. offers an extensive selection of tents, packs, sleeping and hydration essentials, and camp kitchens. The North Face tents provide great shelter through the night, sturdy backpacks to hold your camping materials, sleeping bags to keep you warm, Yeti branded products are also sold at Great Outdoor Provision so you can keep your icy drinks icy cold or your warm drinks toasty warm, and you can store your foods in the Yeti coolers to carry food supplies without a hassle.

Outdoor Supply Company of Hickory provides a camper’s paradise with plenty of high-quality supplies such as backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, hammocks, and sleeping pads. And don’t worry about missing the best brands on the market, Outdoor Supply is an authorized retailer for Osprey, Gregory , The North Face and Big Agnes to name a few! And don’t forget the camping accessories to aid the trip. Outdoor Supply also carries water tanks, rain covers, bug repellent, trekking poles, camping pots, pans and stoves, and medical supplies to make sure you are fully prepared for everything!

Viewmont Street Trut Sale #viewmontstreetstrut #sale #outdoors @outdoorsupplycompany

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Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., gear up and head out to your next camping trip with the help of Outdoor 76. Stocked full of amazing backpacks, sleeping bags and tents, trust the finest products to aid your camping trip and make it the best trip yet. Amazing brands throughout the store, popular brands Black Diamond, Osprey, the North Face, GoPro, and many more are offered in store to meet your needs and expectations. 


Mast General Store has six locations in North Carolina: Valle Crucis, Boone, Waynesville, Hendersonville, Asheville, and Winston-Salem. So you won’t be too far away from one of these great stores! For outdoor gear, you’ll find backpacks, coolers, knives and tools, maps and guides, and more, from all of your favorite brands like Yeti, Hydro Flask, and more. 

Stocked of name brand clothes, shoes and gear, Black Rock Outdoor Company is ready to get you fitted and into the wilderness. The North Face, Columbia, Marmot, and Black Diamond are just a few of the brands that Black Rock keeps in stock. Keep yourself warm with the assorted apparel, keep yourself packed and ready with all necessary supplies with a sturdy, large pack, and there are plenty of tents to shelter yourself in the great outdoors overnight. 

The Frugal Backpacker believes that “everyone should be able to hike, climb, paddle, run, explore, and relax in the backyard that is Asheville and Western North Carolina.” That sounds perfect to us. This shop is dedicated to helping you spend less, and get the most of the great outdoors. Find all of the gear you’ll need from backpacks, to the proper footwear, to sleeping bags, and flashlights. Gear up for a good price at the Frugal Backpacker! 

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9 Best Ski and Snowboard Stores in North Carolina Whether you’re a rider of the bunny hills or a frequenter of the black diamond slopes, every skier and snowboarder needs to be outfitted with the right gear. Across North Carolina, lovers of snow sports will thoroughly enjoy the experience of picking out great gear from reliable, top-notch places. Here are the 10 best ski and snowboard shops in the state! 

Carrying ski and snowboard essentials, Gordan’s is ready to fully prepare you for the slopes in style! For snowboarders, the store is stocked with snowboards, bindings, boots, accessories, apparel, and bags. As for ski equipment, skiers can purchase skis, ski bindings, ski apparel, ski boots, poles, and accessories. Those who are brand loyal should not worry! Gordon’s has popular and trusty brands ready to equip your next outing in the snow such as Columbia, Patagonia, and Under Armour

Named the top ski and snowboard shop in the southeast, choose from a large selection of skis, ski boots and snowboards and boots and outerwear to beat the cold. Brands of skis and boots range from Rossignol, Atomic, and Dalbello. Snowboarders can prepare themselves for many snowboarding adventures to come with snowboards and boots supplied by Burton, Roxy, and RIDE to name a few. There’s an amazing selection to choose from and the staff members will make the experience great with their incredible service. 

Home to gear and clothing to get you on the slopes, the knowledgeable staff helps any and every shopper get from the entrance to the checkout counter to the snow. Regardless of how much background information you have with skiing or snowboarding, they are patient and ensure you are fully satisfied. Helmets, bindings, ski poles, snowboards, skis, and boots are all available to provide you with what you need whether it be one piece of your gear or the complete set.  

“Live hard, ski harder!” At Maggie Valley, browse, and purchase high-quality boards and equipment at unbeatable prices. Open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. every day of the week, customers can shop, rent, or have assistance with tuning and waxing. 

Established in 2009, this locally-owned business supplies you with snow sports equipment such as snowboards, footwear, outerwear and tunes or repairs. Recess Skate & Snow is stocked full of products in more than a dozen trusted, top-notch brands. 

Men’s, women’s, and kids’ equipment, the entire family can suit up for the winter adventure here. With locations in Elon and Hillsborough, snowboards, skis, and additional supplies are all right at your fingertips. Have an awesome experience of picking out all the essentials with the help of courteous, patient staff. 

Gear, clothing and equipment services, First Flakes has a bit of it all! In search of gear? Have no fear! First Flakes is stocked full of boots, poles, clothing, gloves, goggles, helmets, bags, and car racks to carry it all. And don’t forget the skis or snowboards! Clothing items include a huge selection of outerwear such as jackets, hats, pants, gloves, sweatshirts, and bandanas, as well as thermals. First Flakes carries plenty of different brands, so you can choose your slope style.

The paradise of boards, dress and prepare with all the necessities to have fun in the snow. As well as snowboards and skis, get your hands-on snowboard bindings, boots, goggles, jackets, pants, and socks. Not fully set yet? Boardparadise also has snow traction, tools, wax, bungee, and other snow accessories. 

Drift over to 1st Tracks and Fatty’s for convenient shopping near all area ski resorts. Ski and snowboard equipment, clothing, goggles, and accessories are carried in many different brands to fit your preference. Head over and the friendly staff members will help you pick out everything you need, regardless of your snow sports skill level. Does your snowboard or skis need a little care? The knowledgeable employees are more than happy to tune or repair your equipment through same day service. 

Boards and boards and more boards! You want it we got it!

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6 Best Ski Destinations for Families in North Carolina Winter activities are a-plenty in North Carolina! In fact, we even have several excellent opportunities to go skiing. Skiing is a wonderful activity the whole family can enjoy together. Grab your skis, boots, and poles, and get ready for an unforgettable winter getaway. Luscious snow, man or sky-made, is ready for your skis at these six best ski resorts and areas for families in North Carolina.

Ski the beautiful slopes among the 5,700 acres of the Sapphire Valley Ski Resort, the perfect family retreat. The resort has three slopes in total. The moderate ski slope available is a great option for children and skiing beginners. The Main Ski Hill is 1,600 feet-long and has a 200-foot vertical drop. The tube run is 500 feet, and every slope on the property has a lift. High South Rentals has incredible additional lodging options through their partnership with Sapphire Valley.

With over a dozen named trails and three lifts, the Beech Mountain Ski Resort is ready for skiers of every age and skill level. Book a hotel room, condominium, or cabin. Ski rentals, dining, and an ice skating rink are all on the property for guests to enjoy as well during their visit. The ski lifts include the double chair, quad chair, and magic carpet options, depending on the slope you choose. The staff members are amazing, and the lodge option at the resort is beautiful. The lodge offers breathtaking views of the slopes from 20 available rooms. The resort offers complimentary transportation during the main season for easy transport to and from the slopes. Once the family spends a day in the snow and skiing the slopes, warm up in the room with a private bathroom, warm beds, kitchen essentials, cable television and Wi-Fi.

Great day today. i just couldn’t be more thankful🌞

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The staff at Cataloochee is friendly and always willing to accommodate. Fun for the entire family, the slopes are great even for beginning skiers. There are 18 slopes and trails in total ranging from easy to difficult skill-wise. In the ski resort, 44 percent of the slopes and trails are for a beginner, making this a great location for a family. For those testing the ski ropes, tickets are available for purchase. For those skiers ready to hit the slopes several times this season, passes are available. 

Absolutely perfect day😊 @cole_no_insta

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The Appalachian Ski Mountain of Blowing Rock is a fun, affordable family experience. The staff members are amazing with assisting beginner skiers in a group and private lessons, all the lessons which are available on site. The ticket prices for skiing and the lifts are both the best around. The slopes are perfect for any beginner skier with great trails. High-quality skiing equipment is available for rental from skis and boots to poles.  

Gear up and ski in Western North Carolina at the Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. Fifteen runs in total, there are four easy, eight moderate, and three difficult trails. New to skiing and want to master the craft? Attend Snow Sports School! Snow Sports School provides skiers with private and group lessons to learn the basics of skiing. The Kids, Kids & More Kids option gives kids aged five and up private lessons with an experienced instructor. A fun trial and error skiing trip, or one to take lessons and learn the ropes, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is a great way to get skis in the snow as a family this winter.

Sugar Mountain Resort is for all snow activities from skiing, tubing, and snowboarding to ice skating. On the slopes, choose from seven easier, 11 difficult, and several most difficult trails that require extra caution. Amazing childcare is also available for the little ones who cannot ski quite yet! With the Winter Value Package, save money on the trip for the entire family on lift tickets, renting equipment, and lodging. A gorgeous location to ski in the south, bring the entire family to learn to ski and continue to come to brush up on those skills for years to come! 

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ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Falls Dam Trail The Uwharrie National Forest and surrounding area are rich with activities and attractions for a weekend getaway. Fill your belly with a delicious breakfast, hit the off-roading trails of Uwharrie, grab a bite for dinner, rest your head, and explore with this thrilling ATV off-roading adventure in North Carolina. 

For the best experience, start your day with a hearty, delicious breakfast. The Breakfast Nook is a cozy spot open early from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. for Southern-style breakfast foods. Enjoy a home-cooked, warm meal with a cup of coffee to wake you up. The service is fast and friendly. 

Closest to the Triangle area, Uwharrie National Forest is a perfect location for off-roading. A total of 17 miles in trails for ATV use, licensed vehicles can explore the outdoors on wheels. The Uwharrie National Forest trails are open to riders April through December of every year. The Badin Lake OHV Trail Complex is complete with several different trails ranging in difficulty. The Falls Dam Trail, approximately three miles in total, is a moderate trail that offers beautiful views of the national park.  

So, it’s been a long day and now you’re starving, right? Fill up at the Log Cabin Bar-B-Que. At this cozy establishment, they have everything from chopped barbecue sandwiches with hush puppies, to hearty burgers, to chuckwagon steak. You won’t walk out of here hungry. 

After your day out, rest at the Badin Inn Golf Resort & Club. This three-star hotel has free parking. A historical site, the Badin Inn was previously a boarding house transformed into a hotel in the early 1900s. Included in your stay to make it comfortable is air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. As well an in-room kitchen, guests have the option for free breakfast and access to the bar and restaurant. The Badin Inn is a beautiful place to stay after a day of off-roading.

If shooting is something that interests you, the next morning would be well spent visiting the Flintlock Valley Shooting Range. This location is open year-round, and offers a 25-yard pistol range as well as a 100-yard rifle range. Be sure to purchase a pass in advance as they are not sold on site. Bring eye protection, hearing protection, and targets. 

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