The weather is really wreaking havoc with our fishing right now and there doesn't seem to be any immediate relief in sight. In fact, all the weathermen are talking about precipitation on Friday night into Saturday and again on Monday and many are saying the Friday night into Saturday weather could be a winter mix of rain, freezing rain and snow. Hopefully it won't be too bad, but the forecast has our highs only in the 40s through early next week.
It was announced Thursday morning that there was a new record for snowfall in the Washington D.C. area already this winter and more could be coming. We have known for years what a snow job there was in that area, but usually all the hot air kept it under control. The government had been shut down for four days already this week and many are viewing that as a good thing. If they aren't in session, they can't shut down any more fishing. I hope the roads are cleared enough to be safe when our fishermen are there on February 24 for the "United We Fish" rally.
The marine forecast remains windy enough to be uncomfortable, especially with the cold temperatures. There are a few dedicated fishermen braving the conditions for short periods of time, but the fishing isn't particularly good right now. This may be a good time to knock out a few items on that honey-do list and earn some free time when the weather clears and warms back up.
The only reports I heard this week involved some speckled trout, red drum, stripers and black drum. The water conditions in most areas are awful, with so much rainwater runoff passing through the water is either muddy or almost red--or both. The folks who had some success were fishing back in creeks and bays that were tidal, but didn't directly receive the runoff or in the surf. Most also reported the fishing was better on the sunny days around and just after the low tide.
Live mud minnows were generally the best baits for the specks and red drum. They would hit some soft plastics and smaller ones, with shad/paddle tails were generally more productive. Suspending hard lures, like the MirrOlure 17 MR and 27 MR, that could be fished very slowly, were also catching. The smaller 17 size works better for trout, while the slightly larger 27 size attracts drum better and also some stripers. The black drum will occasionally hit soft baits, particularly the scented ones, but respond well to small pieces of shrimp and cut bait.
There should be some tautog along the State Port wall in Morehead City and along most of the jetties in the state. They will sometimes hit pieces of shrimp, but most fishermen consider pieces of clam to be better baits.
I haven't received a good offshore report in several weeks. It seems the hot wahoo and blackfin tuna bite of January has subsided, at least for a while. It could pick back up at any time and typically there is a run sometime in February.
I received several excellent reports of stripers being caught by fishermen from Oregon Inlet. However, they are saying they are running a long ways up the coast to find them. There have been some good striper reports from different rivers, but now the rainwater runoff is threatening that too. The good river reports are coming from the Neuse, Tar/Pamlico, Cape Fear and Albemarle Rivers. Stripers are managed by the different rivers and the regulations are subject to change on short notice, it would be wise to visit www.ncdmf.net before a striper trip and check the latest regulations for where you plan to fish.
I have a fish story to tell about a young fisherman from Sneads Ferry. This didn't happen locally, but happened to a local person and I think you'll like it. Marshall Hardin spent most of his younger years in Sneads Ferry, but is currently in Kingville, Texas, where his mom, a Navy officer, is stationed. Monday afternoon, after morning classes at the local community college, he and some friends headed over to Baffin Bay to do some wade fishing for specks and reds. They had been catching some nice trout, averaging about 20 inches, when something grabbed his bait and really took off.
The fish, which grabbed a three inch Gulp shrimp in nuclear chicken color, took quite a while to subdue, but it was all worthwhile. Marshall had hooked and landed a very fat 29 inch trout that looks even larger in the pictures from his phone camera. Most guesstimates put it in the 10 pound range. Hopefully this will get some folks excited about fishing once the water warms. Congratulations Marshall! (Check out the attached picture.)
This Sunday is Valentines Day. Don't forget to do something fishy for your sweetie.
A couple of boat shows are on tap across N.C. this weekend. The Raleigh Convention Center Boat show will be held at the new convention center in downtown Raleigh and the Mid-Atlantic Boat Show will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center in downtown Charlotte. Both will be open Friday through Sunday. For more information visit www.raleighconvention.com/boatshow or www.ncboatshows.com respectively.
For fishing enthusiasts, Capt. Jimmy Price and I have two more events remaining in the Sea Striker and Star Rods Saltwater Fishing Schools we are hosting across North Carolina during February. These schools are all day events featuring the inshore species of specks, reds, flounder sheepshead and gray trout, plus Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, offshore bottom fishing and throwing cast nets. The remaining dates are February 20 at River Park North in Greenville and February 27 at Libby Hill Seafood Restaurant in Greensboro and seats are available at both.
The schools will begin at 9:00 A.M. and last until approximately 4:00 P.M. There is a registration fee of $50 in advance or $60 at the door. Call Capt. Price at 910-443-1211 or me at 910-279-6760 for more details or to purchase tickets.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet Feb. 18 in New Bern to discuss issues related to a proposed May 15 to December 15 closure for large mesh gill nets. The meeting is set for 1:00 P.M. at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center.
The closure would affect most inshore waters south of Oregon Inlet. The Division of Marine Fisheries has proposed the closure to address a notification from the National Marine Fisheries Service of unauthorized takes of threatened and endangered sea turtles that have been observed in the large mesh gill net fishery in state waters. The Commission will take public comments during the meeting.
The letter outlining these proposals can be viewed at http://www.ncdmf.net/Gill Net Closure/DMF to RoyCrabtree-Turtles.pdf.
Don't forget the "United We Fish" fishermen's march on Washington, D.C., on Feb. 24. This is quickly approaching and is now less than two weeks away. The cause and promotion for the march has been enjoined by numerous organizations including the Southern Kingfish Association (SKA, www.fishska.com), Frying Pan Tower Dot Com (www.fryingpantower.com) and the Recreational Fishing Association (RFA, www.joinrfa.com). RFA director Jim Donofrio has heralded this as an event that will unite recreational and commercial fishermen in a common cause.
The bus chartered by the Ocean Isle Fishing Center (www.oifc.com) is full, but other busses and caravans are being planned. Check the sites above for the latest details on busses and caravans.