It's that unique time at the end of the summer, after school starts and before the Labor Day Weekend. This is when the weekday crowds have thinned, but aren't quite gone yet. The fishing hasn't begun to shift into the higher gear that is engaged by the cooling water temperatures, but it appears to be getting a little better all the time.
The days are still genuinely hot, not just warm, but occasionally there are several cooler mornings in a row. On these days, it is much easier to get going. The few degrees of cooler temperature work wonders for the body and mind. It just feels like time to go fishing and the expectations are greater also. Right now it looks like we might have one of those periods during the middle of this week, before it warms back up for the weekend. I don't know about y'all, but I plan to take advantage of it.
The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is conducting a survey regarding catch and release red drum fishing. There are only seven multiple-choice questions, so it does not take too long to complete the form and everyone should participate. A downloadable copy of the survey is available at http://www.ncdmf.net/download/index.html If you would like to complete the survey and forward the information while on-line, you can access it at www.ncwaterman.com.
A new event that will be happening this fall is the Cape Lookout Albacore Festival (CLAF). The CLAF will be raising funds for the Duke Children's Hospital. Advance registration is already underway and will continue through the Captain's Meeting and Dinner on Friday, October 25. Fishing and the Awards Party will take place on Saturday, October 26. This is an "all-release" event with categories for both fly fishermen and those preferring conventional tackle. For more information, call 252-222-0229 or visit www.claf.org.
Last week was very special for billfishermen along the northern NC coast. First, the ladies set a hot pace during the Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament. The Nuco 2 was the top boat with 12 white marlin releases, of which top angler Tiffany Sisolek had 7 herself. Then, during the 3 days of the Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament, there were 210 billfish released. The released billfish included 184 white marlin, 17 blue marlin, 8 sailfish, and 1 spearfish.
The Salty Fare of Capt. Watson Caviness topped the Spencer 57 to win the event in a time-based tie-breaker, with 9 white marlin releases. A single 440 pound blue marlin was brought to the scales, by Capt. Rom Whitaker and the Release. It swept the catch categories and netted them just over a quarter million dollars in prize money.
Closer to the beach, the king mackerel bite got just a little stronger. One fisherman commented that with the amount of bait that is available, the kings might be in the area pretty heavily, just full and not feeding. There have been some kings caught off Morehead City, but the better action has been east of the Cape Lookout Shoals. The favorite spots have been at the 30 Minute Rock, 1700 Rock and at AR 285 (George Summerlin Reef). Farther south, several of those fishermen willing to keep the grass cleared from their lines to fish the Cape Fear River Channel had good luck. The top 2 boats in last weekend's Shallotte Inlet Tournament came from near the Cape Fear Sea Buoy.
The small Spanish mackerel have been feeding heavily just off the beaches. They were hitting spoons pretty well, with some large individuals showing a preference for light lined finger mullet. This is great fun on a lighter spinning or conventional outfit.
Drum, flounder, and a few speckled trout pretty much complete the mixture, except for some scattered bottom fish. Try the flounder around the inlets, drum in the backwaters of almost any coastal creek, and trout in deeper holes around the marshes.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver