Spring might just have finally arrived. As I looked at the 10 day weather forecast today, I saw a forecast whose coolest day was the mid 50s. If it holds, this will be the first time we havenít had a roller coaster ride in temperatures since late January and Iím glad to see it. The several days of warm weather each week had been luring fish in, but a cold snap a few days later seemed to run them away or give them lockjaw.
The nasty cold weather forecast for earlier this week stayed well inland and never made it to the coast. We got fairly cold and saw lots of rain, but not any ice or snow.
Speaking of snow Ė I made a quickie trip to Raleigh on Monday and drove back Tuesday morning. It wasnít enough to stick anywhere, but it snowed on me on the return trip until I was well east of I-95. As much as I usually dislike driving in rain, I was glad when it all turned to rain.
Fishing improved a little this week. The water temperatures are still in the 50s, but for whatever reason, the fish were a little more active and bit a little better. Itís one of those things that you donít question, but are always happy to see.
The best reports this week on the inshore side have been puppy drum. They are still up the creeks and there are good numbers of slightly under slot fish up to mid slot fish. The pups that have moved onto the flats in the bays are slightly larger with a lot of mid to upper slot fish and even a few overslots.
There had also been pretty good action in the marshes just inside the inlets at places like Bogue, Browns, Topsail, Rich and Little River Inlets. Live bait fishermen have been hammering the drum with mud minnows. They have also hit frozen finger mullet. I believe the pups in colder water have to be convinced to bite and scent is a part of that equation and the live and natural baits have it. Berkley Gulp soft baits and others smeared liberally with Pro-Cure have out produced plain baits and also attracted a few black drum.
It seems like every time the water temperature rises a degree or two, the speckled trout action gets a little better. Trout are in the holes in the creeks in protected waters and when the water temperature warms on sunny afternoons, they bite surprisingly well. Just remember that trout season is closed until June 15, so they must be released. Live mud minnows, Vudu Shrimp, and MirrOlure Soft Dines have been really producing well.
Striper and shad fishing continues to be good up the coastal rivers. When the water warms a little, the stripers should begin heading upstream to spawn. Iím really interested in hearing the numbers from Lock and Dam Number 1 in the Cape Fear River this year. Shad are already on their way to spawn and there have already been reports of them in Just about every river that has a spring run.Surf and boat fishermen are still finding puppy drum around the inlets especially along uninhabited islands. This is captainís choice fishing. Fishermen can anchor behind the island and walk across to fish or on calm days they can take their boats into the ocean and ride down the beach looking for fish in the swells.
There are some speckled trout and black drum mixed with the puppy drum. Remember to release the specks. One of the best spots to look for all of these fish is right in and around the inlets. They will find deeper holes or hide behind sandbars out of the current and wait for food to be washed to them in the current.
Pier fishermen are beginning to catch some small sea mullet and puffers. That is a good sign. If you fish from the piers and want a good fight, stay through dark one day and try for spiny dogfish. They range from about 4 to 10 pounds and will give you all the fight you want. They have a pretty good reputation as table fare too.
There have been lots of hungry black sea bass at the nearshore artificial reefs. There are even a few keepers, but youíll have to weed through a bunch to keep a limit. Several fishermen said they found good concentrations of larger black sea bass farther offshore in deeper water
Bottom fishermen headed out to roughly 100 feet should find a mixture of black sea bass, beeliners, grunts, porgys and triggerfish. There will be grouper and a few red snapper too, but their seasons are closed so release them for another day.
A few boats took advantage of the nice weather earlier in the week to head offshore. The bite wasnít red hot by any means, but there was fairly steady picking all day. Wahoo are the mainstay of the offshore action and there are small schools of blackfin tuna roaming the area. There are a few yellowfin tuna north of Hatteras.
They caught more bluefin tuna out of Oregon Inlet this week. I heard of one that topped 700 pounds. That is an impressive fish.
Iím waiting to see how the five great white sharks we have been following react as the water begins to warm, April moved to the north about 80 miles this week and is currently off Corolla at approximately the Continental Shelf. There are bluefin tuna in this area and suspicions are she has been dining on them. Katharine likes to be closer to the beach and hasnít moved much from last week. She is off Fernandina Beach, right at the Florida Ė Georgia state line. Mary Lee moved to the south this week and was about off Brunswick, Ga.
Genie still hasnít sent a locating ping since late January. She was off Brunswick, Ga. then. Lydia is staying well to the north and seems to like it. She is pinging a location south of Greenland very consistently. You can follow the travels of April, Genie, Katharine, Lydia and Mary Lee, plus other tagged sharks around the world, by visiting www.ocearch.org and opening the shark tracker.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on Amendment 20A to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region. If approved, this amendment would modify the management plan to include changes to the coastal migratory pelagics permit requirements and restrictions, including changes to the sales provisions and income requirements.
For the Atlantic region, the amendment would add a prohibition on the sale of king and Spanish mackerel caught under the bag limit unless the fish are caught as part of a state-permitted tournament and the proceeds from the sale are donated to charity. The amendment would also remove the income qualification requirement for king and Spanish mackerel commercial permits from the management plan. Comments must be received by May 5.
Electronic copies of the amendment are available at the NOAA Fisheries Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/2014/am20a/index.html or the e-Rule Making Portal at www.regulation.gov.
Comments on this document, must be identified as "NOAA-NMFS-2013-0168", and may be submitted by:
ē Electronic Submission via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0168. Once there, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Additional Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect or Adobe PDF documents up to 10MB may be attached.
ē Mail written comments to Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
The SAFMC is soliciting applicants for several vacancies on advisory panels and from scientists interested in serving on the Science and Statistical Committee. SAFMC has 11 advisory panels that have representation from the recreational and commercial sectors. Appointments are for three years with meeting several times each year.
Persons interested in serving on an advisory panel should contact Kim Iverson, Public Information Officer, at Kim.Iverson@safmc.net or call the SAFMC office at 843/571-4366 (Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10). Application forms are available from the Council office and may also be downloaded from the Advisory Panel page of the Councilís website at www.safmc.net. Applications should be mailed to Kim Iverson, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405.
Persons with expertise and experience in the areas of fisheries biology, population dynamics, fisheries research and monitoring, and social and economic analyses of natural resources, especially as applied to fish species in the South Atlantic, are encouraged to apply for membership on the Science and Statistical Committee. Persons interested in applying for the SSC should contact John Carmichael, Science and Statistics Program Manager, through email at John.Carmichael@safmc.net, by phone at 843/571-4366 or Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10. Additional information about the SSC is available from the Scientific and Statistical Committee page of the Councilís website at www.safmc.net.
For the kayak fishermen interested in learning more about launching through the surf and fishing in the ocean for king mackerel and more, the topic of the April 2 meeting of the North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association Cape Fear Chapter will be just that. The meeting is April 2 at the Great Outdoor Provision Company Store in Wilmington. For more information visit www.nckfa.com or www.greatoutdoorprovision.com.
The 2014 Kayak Fishing Seminar and Paddle Day will be held April 5 at the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville. There will be kayak fishing seminars for fresh and salt water, plus the opportunity to try out a variety of fishing kayaks on the adjacent lake. For more information visit www.ncwildlife.org/learning.aspx.
The Crystal Coast Chapter of the North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association will meet April 9 at Fat Fellas in Newport. The program will be on catching cobia and will be presented by Capt. Bobby Brewer of Oriental. For more information visit www.nckfa.com.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will host a bass-fishing seminar April 10 at the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville. The topic will be Bassiní with Wooden Crankbaits, presented by Mark McGowan. For more information visit www.ncwildlife.org.