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05-08-14

 If you forget that this Sunday, May 11, is Motherís Day, you canít go fishing for a week.  Seriously all, those of you with moms still living should be sure to do something nice for them, while those of us whose moms have passed on will remember them.  One way to make you mom happy is simply to spend some time with her.  Nothing against restaurants, but how about taking mom on a picnic that you prepare?  Another thing would be to take her somewhere relaxing and go fishing.  Regardless of how quiet you always thought you should be while fishing, the fish will bite if youíre talking to your mom.

The first run of king mackerel is on along the beach at Oak Island.  The action began last Friday and had continued through this week.  There are also cobia being caught from the piers there.  Dave Roseman landed the largest king yet on Wednesday afternoon with a 44 pound, 10 ounce smoker at Ocean Crest Pier.  John Gornto, who caught the first N.C. pier king of the year, has already caught three kings and a cobia.  The big cobia so far is a 45 pound 10 ounce bruiser caught by Donna Paris at Oak Island Pier on Thursday.  Kelly Weatherholt caught the first pier cobia of the year last Saturday and it weighed 22.7 pounds.

There isnít a major change in the weather forecast for the weekend so this action should continue! 

The North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association (NCKFA) had planned the King of the Beach Kayak King Mackerel Tournament for this Saturday in Oak Island, but the wind in the weather forecast is a little much for kayaks and it has been postponed until May 17.  If you are interested in fishing this tournament, you can visit the NCKFA website at www.nckfa.com for details.

The Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department is holding another unique event on May 17 that may be of interest to fishermen and boaters with closets, storage buildings and workshops full of tackle, accessories and boating stuff they arenít using.  They will be holding a Marine Yard Sale and the public is invited.  This began as the day for the Turtle Triathlon and First Crawl Environmental Festival, so it was natural to add an event that recycles fishing equipment.  For details or to reserve a spot for the Marine Yard Sale, call 910-278-5518.

After the run of kings and cobia on the Oak Island Piers, the hot fish for the past week was Spanish mackerel.  Pier anglers are catching Spanish and boaters are catching lots of Spanish.  Some of the Spanish running from a mile to several miles off the beach were larger and ranged into the five pound class.  With the heat of this week, they should be moving closer to the beach.

Atlantic bonito and false albacore are spreading down the beaches, but the area just out New River Inlet towards Diverís Rock has been a hotspot.  Most of the bonito and fat alberts were caught while trolling Clarkspoons for Spanish mackerel, but a few schools were spotted and cast to.  Do yourself a favor and learn to tell the difference between them.  Atlantic bonito are excellent table fare, but false albacore are a little strong for most folks.

There is obviously a king mackerel run along the southern beaches if they are catching them from the piers.  They are also holding around many of the rocks, wrecks and artificial reefs in approximately 80 to 125 feet of water.  The offshore kings will readily hit spoons, sea witches and frozen cigar minnows.  As they move inshore, kings will occasionally hit those baits and lures, but they prefer fresh, frisky live baits and menhaden and bluefish top the menu.

Offshore bottom fishermen are catching lots of fish and can now keep grouper too, as grouper season opened May 1.  Offshore trolling is picking up well too.  Dolphin numbers are growing fast and most of them are gaffers.  Some of the fish are closer in at the first good rip or temperature break with blue water, but several fishermen said the best dolphin action was around 100 fathoms.  Other Gulf Stream catches include wahoo, blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna and a few billfish. 

I mentioned the piers earlier with the kings and cobia and they are also catching a growing number and variety of other fish.  The pier catch includes Spanish mackerel, bluefish, black drum, red drum, pompano, flounder (mostly shorts), sea mullet (whiting, Va. mullet) and a few surprises.  The action at the end of the piers has begun heating up along the southern N.C. Coast and should be spreading up the coast. 

Red drum are still the largest part of the inshore catch, but more flounder are showing up all the time.  Right now, most of the flounder are just a little too short to invite home for dinner, but there are a few keepers and even a doormat or two around.  Speckled trout are biting too, but must be released until June 15.

Most of the water inside the inlets has passed the 70 degree mark and fish are aggressive.  Red drum and speckled trout are hitting topwater lures.  Of course, they like live mud minnows and will gobble live shrimp when you find them.  Flounder have been hitting lures, live mud minnows and strip baits. 

I really like gold spoons for catching red drum and flounder.  The Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon is the spoon that started it all about 80 years ago.  I know that sounds funny to talk about a silver minnow in gold, but the Silver Minnow Spoon comes in several colors beside silver.  Gold is my favorite color for these spoons and is followed by copper.

There has been some confusion about red drum season this spring.  Simply put, the recreational season for red drum is open.  It is the commercial season that is closed.

The Division of Marine Fisheries issued a press release and proclamation last Friday (May 2) was a bit of a shock.  Effective on Monday, May 5, large mesh gill nets must have been removed from all N.C. coastal waters.  Large mesh gill nets are those with a stretched mesh size of four inches and larger and are most commonly used to catch flounder.  Red drum are a bycatch in these nets while fishing for flounder and most of the time can be sold along with the flounder. 

However, N.C. commercial fishermen caught more than the season and annual allocation last fall and red drum cannot be caught commercially or be sold until at least September 1.  As the bycatch of drum while gill net fishing for flounder is significant and most of the flounder are currently small, with many shorts also, fishery managers are removing these nets from the water until at least June 1 to prevent waste.  The June 1 date was selected as it is after the Marine Fisheries Commission meeting on May 21-23.  The subject of red drum bycatch in flounder gill nets will be a primary topic at this meeting and this will give the commissioners time to try to find a solution to the red drum bycatch issue and allow commercial fishermen to continue to catch flounder.

The striper action in the Roanoke River at Weldon is wide open and the crowds have thinned a little since the season closed on April 30.  Several fishermen said the catch and release action is on fire and they are still having 100 fish days. 

I hope no one neglected their work to watch this Wednesday morning, but I thought it was really neat to be able to log into their webcam and watch the folks at Jarrett Bay Boatworks flip the 84 foot long Blank Check.  This is their largest boat to date and the beam was too wide to flip like they do with most hulls. 

Never lacking in ingenuity, the Jarrett Bay folks simply loaded the hull up on their travel lift and moved it outside to the lift well where they turned it over using the individual lift sections of their travel lift.  It was very impressive.  Even better, they had it all on their web cam, so others that were interested could watch.  I exchanged e-mails with the folks at Jarrett Bay Thursday afternoon and they said they had the video and were editing the raw footage to get it ready for viewing at their website. 

There isnít one of the tagged great white sharks off N.C. right now.  The closest is April, who had been hanging around just a little offshore of the Continental Shelf east of the northern N.C. Outer Banks for several months, but has moved up to the Eastern Shore of Virginia this week.  Mary Lee, who piqued my interest several falls ago when she sent a tracking ping from inside the mouth of the Cape Fear River, is the next closest and she is about 120 miles offshore and southeast of Savannah, Ga. Genie has moved a little to the north and is about that same distance away at the Continental Shelf east of the entrance to Delaware Bay.

Katharine, who had been right off the beach in Georgia for several weeks, headed south this week.  She most recently pinged at Daytona Beach, Fla.  Lydia likes the open ocean and is out in the middle.  She was moving steadily, but slowly to the southwest, but has stopped and doubled back in the past couple of days.  She is well offshore and triangulated at approximately the same distance southeast of Bermuda, northwest of the Cape Verde Islands and northeast of Puerto Rico.  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.

Pending Legislation/Regulations

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on the proposed rule for Regulatory Amendment 14 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on April 25, 2014 (79 FR 22936) and the comment period ends on May 27, 2014.

The proposed rule would:

* Revise the current fishing year for both commercial and recreational sectors of greater amberjack from May 1 through April 30, to March 1 through the end of February.

* Revise the current commercial fishing year for black sea bass from June 1 through May 31, to January 1 through December 31.

* Establish a new commercial trip limit for black sea bass.  Black sea bass pots are prohibited from November 1 through April 30.  From May 1 to October 31, the trip limit would be 1,000 pounds gutted weight for black sea bass pots.  From May 1 to December 31, the trip limit would be 1,000 pounds gutted weight for hook-and-line gear.  The hook-and-line gear would be restricted to a trip limit of 300 pounds gutted weight from January 1 to April 30.

* Revise the current recreational fishing year for black sea bass from June 1 through May 31, to April 1 through March 31.

* Revise the black sea bass recreational accountability measure to have NOAA Fisheries announce the length of the recreational season for black sea bass annually in the Federal Register prior to the April 1 recreational fishing year start date.  The fishing season would start on April 1 and end on the date NOAA Fisheries projects the recreational sector's annual catch limit would be met for that year.

* Revise the commercial trip limit for gag from the current 1,000 pounds gutted weight, to include a trip limit reduction to 500 pounds gutted weight, when 75 percent of the gag commercial quota is reached.

* Modify the recreational accountability measure for vermilion snapper by implementing an in-season closure and an annual catch limit overage adjustment (payback) in the event an overage of the recreational annual catch limit occurs.  If recreational landings reach or are projected to reach the recreational annual catch limit, recreational harvest would be prohibited for the remainder of the fishing year.  Payback of a recreational annual catch limit overage in the following fishing year would occur if vermilion snapper are determined to be overfished and the total annual catch limit (combined commercial and recreational annual catch limits) is exceeded.

Electronic or hardcopies of the proposed rule may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries website at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2014/reg_am14/index.html or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.safmc.net

Comments may be submitted electronically via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to: www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0052, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.  Comments may also be mailed to Nikhil Mehta - NOAA Fisheries - Southeast Regional Office - Sustainable Fisheries Division - 263 13th Avenue South - St. Petersburg, Florida 33701.

The SAFMC is soliciting applicants with science backgrounds for several vacancies on the Science and Statistical Committee (SSC).  Applications for the SSC by May 14, 2014.  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 SSC.  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.

Upcoming Meetings, Events and Tournaments

April 19 to June 15, Third Annual Chasiní Tails Outdoors Cobia Challenge, Chasin Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, www.chasintailsoutdoors.com;

May 10:  King of the Beach Kayak King Mackerel Tournament, 49th Street Dune Crossover, Oak Island, www.nckfa.com

May 10 to 17:  Far Out Shoot Out, Offshore Gamefish, Ocean Isle Fishing Center, Ocean Isle Beach, www.oifc.com

May 11:  Mothers Day, Everywhere, Show mom you love her and care and take her fishing.

May 12-15:  Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Spring Meeting, Crowne Plaza Old Town Alexandria, Alexandria, Va., www.asmfc.org/home/2014-spring-meeting.  

May 14 to 17:  Hatteras Village Offshore Open, Billfish and offshore gamefish, N.C. Governorís Cup, Hatteras Harbor Marina, Hatteras, www.hvoo.org

May 16:  Cape Lookout Fly Fishers monthly meeting, 7:00 P.M. (Supper at 6:00 P.M.), Cox's Family Restaurant, Morehead City.

May 17:  Turtle Triathlon and First Crawl Environmental Festival, Middleton Park Soccer Fields, Oak Island, www.oakislandnc.com

May 17:  Marine Yard Sale, Boat and Fishing Equipment, Middleton Park Soccer Fields in conjunction with First Crawl Environmental Festival, Oak Island, www.oakislandnc.com

May 17:  Armed Forces Day Fly and Light Tackle Inshore Fishing Tournament, VFW Post 9960, Swansboro/Cape Carteret, http://armedforcesfishing.weebly.com

May 17 and 18: Crystal Coast Boat Show, Downtown Morehead City Waterfront, www.downtownmoreheadcity.com.

May 17-18:  Rebel Pier King Mackerel Tournament, Ocean Crest Pier, Oak Island, www.oceancrestpiernc.com.  

May 17-23:  Safe Boating Week, Multiple events state wide (NC events begin on May 16), www.ncwildlife.org.

May 21-23:  North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) Meeting, Clam Digger Inn, Pine Knoll Shores. www.ncdmf.net.

Good Fishing
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver

                                      

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