Darn these winds. They've got to fall out sometime and I'd like it to be sooner rather than later. I also don't care for the cold snaps like we had last week and weekend. It was cold enough over the weekend that the water temperatures dropped, but they are creeping back up and so far it doesn't seem to have affected fishing too badly. The good news is the long range forecast shows slowly warming temperatures for the next week.
Sea mullet/whiting/Va. mullet remain the primary catch of a lot of fishermen. They are from Beaufort Inlet to the Turning Basin at Morehead City and in the lower Cape Fear River at Southport in good numbers and scattered through the surf and from the piers for much of N.C. While they are along the channel, they are usually on the slope down into the channel rather than the shallows or the deepest water.
Other fish are mixing with the sea mullet. Gray trout are one of the better catches, but the limit is a single fish. Croakers, blowfish, pigfish, bluefish and more are also in the mix. It seems like a lot of effort for a single fish, but there are larger gray trout biting under the lights of the high rise bridges and the Radio Island train trestle in the Morehead City area.
Sea mullet/whiting/Va. mullet fishing is simple. All you need is a light rod and reel with a double drop or speck rig tipped with the freshest shrimp possible. The Sea Striker bottom rig with the small squid skirts often catches more than a plain rig or one with just a bead. Synthetic bloodworms from Fishbites are a good second choice for bait. Gray trout will also hit metal jigs like the Sea Striker Jigfish and Haw River Stingsilver.
Fishermen willing to spend some time looking are finding specks, puppy drum, black drum and even some early flounder in the creeks and protected bays. I heard of the first citation flounder of the year this week. It was weighed at Chasin' Tails Outdoors in Atlantic Beach by Robert and Lynn Cooke. The Cookes also had a bunch of smaller flounder.
Many fishermen are using live mud minnows for their inshore fishing, but some are also catching fish using lures. Soft plastics are the most popular lures, but some fishermen are also doing well using hard lures. MirrOlure 52M and MR 17 series are being mentioned often and a few specks and reds are hitting topwater lures.
There are still stripers being caught in most of the coastal rivers, but it's time for them to hear Mother Nature's call and head upriver. A few red drum and an occasional trout are mixed with the stripers in waters basically from Highway 17 back to the coast.
Fishermen along the surf and at the ocean piers are catching sea mullet/whiting/Va. mullet, plus some blowfish, occasional black drum and a few bluefish. The ocean has been really stirred up and those fish like sea mullet/whiting/Va. mullet, that use scent as much or more than sight to find food, are still feeding. When the wind calms down or stay from the northeast for a few days, the nearshore ocean calms down and the water clears. More fish should be added to the pier and surf catch as this happens and the water warms.
Today is April 15 and is the earliest I can trace a big pier king being caught. Chuck Huthmacher caught the 50 pounder that still stands as the Oak Island Pier (formerly Yaupon Beach Pier) record on this day in 2002. The water is still a little cool this year, but it is warming and bluefish are arriving.
Staying with bluefish, most are smaller, but there have been larger blues caught on and around the Cape Lookout Shoals. They are hitting a variety of lures including topwaters.
I have heard of a few false albacore being caught, but have seen pictures and gotten reports Atlantic bonito have arrived - at least from Wrightsville Beach to Topsail Beach. The more difficult problem has been waiting on sea conditions that allow getting to them. They have been 3 to 5 miles offshore over rocks and artificial reefs.
Fishermen used the small weather windows this past week to head offshore and found a variety of fish biting. Fishermen that went all the way to the Gulf Stream found hungry wahoo and blackfin tuna, plus a few dolphin. Some of the catches were very impressive with citation blackfins (20 pounds and more) and wahoo into the 60s, with good numbers of both. With catches this good, fishermen are eagerly waiting for the winds to lay out and the seas to calm.
The term often used to describe good fishing is "off the hook," but offshore bottom fish are on the hook - big time. Big black sea bass are the stars of the show and the catch also includes beeliners, triggerfish, grunts, porgys, and more. Some of the boats heading to the south have already caught a few African pompano. It's only two weeks and a couple of days until grouper season opens on May 1, so get ready.
I haven't heard of any recreational fishermen specifically targeting king mackerel, but they are catching a few. Some are being caught trolling at the first temperature break at the Gulf Stream and some are being caught drifting light lines behind the boat while bottom fishing. There have been kings in the general area of Frying Pan Tower. Elsewhere, there should be kings over many rocks and wrecks in 90 to 125 foot depths. These kings are usually hungry and will hit spoons, sea witches with strips, frozen cigar minnows and live baits.
Pechmann Fishing Education Center Offers Family Fishing Day and More
The workshop will include 3 hours featuring fishing skills such as, casting a spin-cast outfit, setting up a fishing outfit for fishing, tying basic fishing knots, collecting bait, how to catch fish, sustainable catch and release fishing methods, and how to properly handle fish.
Parents and guardians will participate in the fishing activities along with the kids to enhance the learning experience and begin building those fishing memories. The Pechmann Center will provide all of the necessary equipment and bait for this workshop. They request you leave your personal gear at home. The workshop will be held weather permitting, so please consider the weather when planning for this event and dress appropriately.
Space is limited so register early at http://tinyurl.com/j7c577k. For more information about this event visit www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/EducationCenters/Pechmann.aspx and click on the calendar option or contact Pechmann Center Director, Tom Carpenter @ 910-868-5003 or email@example.com.
The Pechmann Center will also offer a safe boating course on April 16 and a Springtime Bass Strategies seminar in the evening on April 26. More information on these and other classes and activities is available by visiting the Pechmann Center's section of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission website at www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/EducationCenters/Pechmann.aspx and clicking on the calendar option or contacting Pechmann Center Director, Tom Carpenter @ 910-868-5003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recreational Fishing Alliance - NC to meet in Wilmington
Schoonmaker introduces himself and RFA-NC by saying, "We're for the fish. We don't represent any particular user group. If we take care of the resource, there will be enough fish for everyone and no user group has to give anything up."
RFA-NC will meet April 19 in Wilmington and all fishermen are invited. The meeting was originally scheduled at Ironclad Brewery, but has been moved it to the Coastline Convention Center in anticipation of a large turnout. The meeting will begin at 7:00 P.M. State Representatives John Bell (R-Craven, Greene, Lenoir, and Wayne Counties), Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland County), and Ted Davis (R-New Hanover County) have already committed to attend and more legislators are expected. Schoonmaker said this is a meeting to introduce N.C. Legislators and fishermen and discuss what RFA-NC has been doing and their upcoming plans. For more information visit the RFA-NC website at www.rfa-nc.org or their Facebook page at RFA-North Carolina.
WRC Seeks Members for Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee
The first seat is an expert affiliate seat. Nominees for this seat should have extensive biological, regional, academic, scientific and/or habitat expertise and experience in matters dealing with nongame wildlife conservation in North Carolina.
Two additional seats are at-large affiliate seats. Nominees for these seats should be qualified individuals from land trusts serving North Carolina, federal natural resource agencies other than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, non-governmental conservation organizations, industries with operations and/or management that have landscape-scale effects on wildlife, or other organizations that provide a stakeholder voice in wildlife resource conservation. Individuals should have a comprehensive knowledge of nongame wildlife conservation in North Carolina.
The committee meets four times a year, usually at the Commissionís headquarters in Raleigh. Nominations will be accepted through May 16. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will appoint the committee members at its July meeting. Nomination forms and information on supporting documents can be downloaded at www.ncwildlife.org. Electronic submissions are preferred, but hard copies may be mailed to the Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee - Attn: Shauna Glover, Habitat Conservation Division - MSC 1721 - Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1700. Electronic nominations should be emailed to email@example.com. For more information, e-mail Glover or call (919) 707-0064.
SAFMC Seeks Scientific Advisors
The SAFMC is one of eight U.S. regional fishery management councils. Each council has an SSC responsible for reviewing the scientific basis of council management plans and actions, and developing fishing level recommendations in accordance with national fisheries management guidelines. The SAFMC SSC meets at least twice a year to address a broad range of topics, including stock assessments, management action evaluations, social and economic analyses, habitat evaluations and ecosystem management issues. SSC members also play a key role in developing and reviewing stock assessments through participation in SEDAR, the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review program. SAFMC SSC members serve 3-year terms and may be appointed to multiple terms.
Anyone 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, is encouraged to apply. Application materials including the required financial disclosure form and SAFMC SSC job description, and details on the application process, may be obtained by contacting John Carmichael at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 302-8435.
May 18-20: N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Quarterly Meeting, Crystal Coast Civic Center, Morehead City, Contact Nancy Fish at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.
Tournaments, Seminars, Boat/Fishing/Outdoor Shows, and Other Events
April 16: Family Fishing Workshop, John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville, www.ncwildlife.org/learning.
April 19: Recreational Fishing Alliance of North Carolina (RFA-NC) meeting, Coastline Convention Center, Wilmington, www.rfa-nc.org.
April 23: Carolina Redfish Series, 2015 Championship, Chasin' Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, http://pcflive.com/carolinaredfish.
April 25: North Carolina General Assembly convenes for the 2016 Short Session. www.ncleg.net.
April 26: Spring Bass Strategies Fishing Seminar, John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville, www.ncwildlife.org/learning.
April 30 and May 1: Women Anglers In Training (WAIT) Ladies only fishing school, Oak Island Recreation Center, Oak Island, http://oakisland.recdesk.com, 910-278-5518.
May 3: Craven County Recreation and Parks Department Kayak Fishing Seminar at Creekside Fellowship Church in New Bern, https://cravencounty.recdesk.com, 252-636-6606.
May 3 to 7, Paddlefest NC, Hammocks Beach State Park (mainland), Swansboro, www.ncpaddle.org.
May 7, Ride the Tide Kayak Race and Float, Oak Island Recreation Center, Oak Island, http://oakisland.recdesk.com, 910-278-5518.
May 14, Oak Island Recreation Department Kayak Fishing School, Cape Fear Yacht Club, Oak Island, http://oakisland.recdesk.com, 910-278-5518. NOTE: The slots for the afternoon on-water session have been filled, but there is plenty of room for the morning classroom session.