Brr, our mornings got cold again for a couple of days over last weekend, but had begun to warm again by Monday. It must have been cool for the fish too, as they took a little while to get going, but were biting well once the sun came out and warmed things up. The morning temperatures felt a lot like fall should feel. The quickie cold front slowed the fishing a little for the day on Thursday, but it picked up again on Friday.
We had a little duplication of this weather scenario again this week as the cold front rolled in Wednesday afternoon. We are supposed to be a little cooler, with northerly winds, for a few days, but the forecast has the winds back to southerly, with warming temperatures, by Sunday. At least the winds aren't supposed to be blowing hard, so I should have some good fishing reports for next week.
There weren't any kings landed on the Crystal Coast Piers through mid-week, but there were some jack crevalles landed at Bogue Inlet Pier. It could be coming at any time as the water temperatures and bait concentrations are about the same and there was a raging king bite over last weekend on the Oak Island piers down in Brunswick County. The report is that last week and weekend there were more than 50 kings landed on Oak Island and Ocean Crest Piers.
Pier fishermen are also catching Spanish mackerel, flounder, bluefish, puppy drum, speckled trout, whiting, black drum and more. The numbers aren't huge on any single species, but a day of fishing should produce several meals worth of fish. Mullets are still moving down the beach and attracting predators to move in close. Just outside the mullets is a good place to fish. On the high tides, this may only be 20 to 30 feet off the beach.
The cool snap spiked the spot fishing a little in the ocean and inside. The piers are prime spots for land based spot fishermen and the spots keep teasing them. Maybe the cool spell that began Wednesday afternoon will really get them going. Fishbites and Blurp synthetic bloodworms continue to produce well.
Spanish mackerel are still around, but may be about to leave with this latest cool snap. Several fishermen reported that over the weekend they caught Spanish more than 10 miles off the beach, which is usually a sign of them arriving or leaving. As this is the fall, they are getting ready to leave.
More schools of false albacore are arriving almost daily at Cape Lookout. They aren't quite an exact replacement for the departing Spanish, but they do well. What they lack in table quality, false albacore more than make up for in spirited fight.
The typical October king mackerel bite fired off on the beach off Oak Island last week, but hasn't been as good elsewhere. The action keeps threatening to fire off, at the Cape Lookout Jetty but it just doesn't get going well. A day or two of good fishing is followed by another slug of dirty water and the bite stops. It could go off at any time, so fishermen should be ready. The good news on kings is they are biting well east of the Cape Lookout Shoals and the bite is getting better.
The offshore fishing is reasonably good. Generally the best action below Cape Lookout has been for wahoo, but some blackfin tuna put in good appearances several days this week. The tuna begin in earnest off Cape Hatteras and the tuna action is best off Oregon Inlet. Offshore boats are also catching a few kings.
Much of our inshore and some nearshore water is still reddish-brown from the monsoon-like rains of three weeks ago. The water is clearing and is lighter in color than the past couple of weeks, but isn't totally clean yet. The good news is the puppy drum and flounder are getting more aggressive and more reports of speckled trout are coming in.
The pups are hungry and aren't really picky about what they are eating. Cut bait, shrimp, live baits, soft plastics and hard baits are all catching pups. Maybe that is why so many people like to fish for them. There are pups in the surf in many places too.
Most folks will catch more flounder using live baits, but they will also hit a variety of lures. I have caught them on MirrOlures, soft plastics and spoons. Sometimes they are feeding and hit whatever comes by. As the water cools, flounder will begin moving towards the inlets.
Specks will hit soft plastics and hard baits, but the number one bait for them is live shrimp. Unfortunately, pinfish are still around and have an uncanny ability to beat trout to your live shrimp. Perseverance will eventually pay off, but it will test your patience. When I'm having pinfish problems while trout fishing, I often get away from them by using a slip cork and raising the bait a little farther off the bottom.
Spots are starting to bite pretty well all along the coast. Many of the popular spots are in inlet channels or the Intracoastal Waterway. Fishermen should remember to anchor out of the channel and cast over into it. It is illegal to block the channel and it is downright unsafe.
This doesn't seem to be the situation as often elsewhere along the Tar Heel state as in the southern part of the coast, but I feel compelled to mention it and try to prevent it happening anywhere again. Sometimes fishermen in boats just get too close to the piers. There are laws regulating this and the laws require distances to be marked to be enforced, but often they aren't marked. However, this is one of those glaring instances where legal and right are two different things. Without the markers, it may be legal for boats to come close to the piers, but that doesn't make it right.
Last week during the US Open King Mackerel Tournament, boats came close enough to Oak Island Pier to cut off king mackerel the pier fishermen were fighting. In fact, it happened six times, which is seven too many. We shouldn't need laws to tell us that is too close! Common courtesy and basic respect should keep boat fishermen farther than that from the piers.
I won't say all the boats that encroached on the piers were fishing the tournament, but many were. It may be time for the tournaments to add a rule prohibiting fishing within a reasonable distance of the piers. I believe something like 1,000 feet would be appropriate. The thing everyone should remember is that fishermen on the piers are in a fixed position and can't maneuver to help land a fish. Boaters can go anywhere within their fuel range the sea conditions allow and should stay a respectable distance from the piers.
For the past couple of weeks, I have mentioned the large drum bite that has been going on at the Little River Inlet Jetties. One night this past week I received a call at about 8:30 at night from Capt. Mark Dickson (www.fishmyrtlebeach.com) telling me his charter for the next morning had cancelled and asking me if I wanted to take their place. After taking about 30 seconds to think about and forget my responsibilities for the next morning, I asked what time he wanted me to be there.
I met Capt. Mark just before daylight and after catching some bait, he said we were early on the tide, so why not catch a few pups while waiting? We eased into Dunn Sound and set up along an oyster bar in a corner of one of the creeks and began tossing finger mullet to the bank. It only took a few minutes before our rods began bouncing with pup bites, but shortly into it Capt. Mark got a strike that wasn't a small pup.
When the line came up tight, this fish had a little reverse and wanted to battle rather than rush down the bank. He asked me to get the net just in case it was a flounder. Sure enough, a minute or so later a nice flounder was visible just below the stained water. He led it a little closer and with one scoop of the net, dinner had joined our party.
When people ask me about flounder fishing, I usually tell them I rarely fish specifically for flounder, but manage to catch a few and usually while drum fishing. My running joke is that when I catch a flounder it is a fluke. This was one of those flukes and it pulled Capt. Marks scale just beyond the four pound mark. However, that night for dinner it tasted just like a flounder.
Shortly after slipping the flounder into the livewell, we found the weather change had slowed the big drum bite. A few of them cooperated, but it was nothing like it had been. The big drum bite should have picked back up now the weather has stabilized. They like crabs, small pogies and mullets for bait.
If this fishing interests you and you make this trip, you will need a South Carolina fishing license unless you fish with a guide that is licensed in S.C. While the distance from the state line is less than 100 yards for the north jetty, the jetties are in S.C. You can launch under the bridge at Ocean Isle, under the bridge at Little River/North Myrtle Beach or run down the beach in the ocean.
If you haven't been outside after dark in the past few days, the moon is on an upswing to full. My calendar says the actual full moon will be Saturday (Oct. 23), but it has looked full to me since Wednesday night. This is another chance for fishermen to find drum up in the marsh grass and for hunters to bag a few meals of marsh hens. The gun season for deer opened last Friday and several small game seasons opened on Monday. Hunters should check the Regulations Digest or Wildlife Resources Commission website, www.ncwildlife.org, for the latest information.
NOAA Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. Amendment 17B establishes annual catch limits (ACLs), accountability measures (AMs) and Specifies Management measures to address overfishing for many species of snapper and grouper and prohibits harvest and retention of other species of snapper and grouper. Electronic copies of Amendment 17B may be obtained from the e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.safmc.net.
Written comments on this amendment must be received no later than November 22. Comments may be submitted electronically through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, http://www.regulations.gov, by entering ANOAA-NMFS-2010-0091" in the keyword search, then check the box labeled ASelect or by mail to Kate Michie--NOAA Fisheries Service--Southeast Regional Office--Sustainable Fisheries Division--263 13th Avenue South--St. Petersburg, Florida 33701 or by fax attention of Kate Michie at 727-824-5308.
The SAFMC has scheduled public hearings regarding Amendment 18A to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan later this month. Amendment 18A primarily focuses on measures for the commercial golden tilefish and black sea bass fisheries to account for anticipated shifts to those fisheries as regulations become more restrictive for other snapper grouper species. The amendment also addresses methods to improve the accuracy, timing, and quantity of fisheries data for both commercial and for-hire fisheries.
The public hearings run from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM. The public is invited and comments will be accepted. Written comments will be accepted until November 12, 2010 and can be sent via email to: SGAmend18AComments@safmc.net, or hard copies to: Robert K. Mahood, Executive Director, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405.
The public hearing for our area will be October 25, at the Hilton New Bern, New Bern. For more information on the hearings, visit www.safmc.net. A summary of the Amendment 18A public hearings is to be posted on the Council's website.
The rescheduled US Open King Mackerel Tournament was held from Southport Marina with fishing days on Friday and Saturday and 305 boats competing. Tournament officials said the tournament was down approximately 100 boats from 2009 and it was a combination of the postponement and a weather forecast that was less than perfect.
Capt. Todd Matthews and the Right One Baby crew from Swansboro won the tournament with a 43.50 pound king they caught off Topsail. The Right One Baby was entered in all the Tournament Within A Tournament (TWT) levels and had a lady angler on board to qualify them for that prize. It added up to a very nice payday as their winnings totaled $50,313. This was the only king heavier than 40 pounds caught in the tournament, but the top 17 places were fish of 30 pounds or heavier and 55th place, which was the last paid place, weighed 23.80 pounds.
The Release, with Capt. Mike Williams of Clayton finished in second with a king that weighed 38.25 pounds. Randall and George Edens of Hampstead fished the East Coast Sports and finished third. Their fish weighed 37.30 pounds. Release and East Coast Sports were also fishing off Topsail. For more information visit www.usopenkmt.com.
The Carolina Kingfish Classic was held Oct. 16 at Sneads Ferry. Athan Parker and the crew of the Money Grows on Trees topped the 22 boat field with a king mackerel that weighed 25.13 pounds. The Backlash, with Capt. Eris Jones finished in second place with a king that weighed 23.40 pounds. The Last Minute finished third with a 22.70 pound king.
The Top Junior angler in the tournament was Crocket Henderson, who fished with his dad, Mark, on the Liquid Fire. Henderson's fish weighed 20.53 pounds and was also good for fourth place overall. For more information visit www.carolinakingfish.com.
The Calcutta Wahoo Challenge that was originally scheduled for Oct. 13 to 16 in Morehead City has been rescheduled to Oct. 27 to 30. For more information visit www.calcuttawahoo.com.
Several tournaments are scheduled for this weekend. The CCA-NC Inside and Out Tournament will be held from Portside Marina in Morehead City on October 23. This tournament has many divisions for fishermen wanting to fish in the ocean or the creeks and sound. For more information visit www.ccanc.org.
The 8th Annual Gordie McAdams Speckled trout Surf Fishing Tournament will begin on Oct 23 and run through December 4. It is run by the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Department. For more information visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd.
The Pamlico County Shrine Club Speckled Trout Tournament will be held October 23. The headquarters is the Pamlico County Shrine Club in Grantsboro. For more information call 252-249-2084.
The Fall Brawl King Classic that will be held Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 23 and 24) from the Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle. For more information visit www.oifc.com.