I find it amusing that in just the short span of a few weeks, temperatures that were considered hot are now considered cool. That chuckle comes from the little cooling we saw Monday and Tuesday of this week and how the TV weather prognosticators were talking about the cooling temperatures that we would (and did) see. I'm sorry, but temperatures in the 80s are still hot to me. Sure they're not as hot as those high 90s we will occasionally see during July and August, but they are hot nonetheless.
The real culprit in our area is the humidity. Sometimes, such as Saturday and Sunday mornings, the humidity is so high you become immediately wet when doing anything outside and the air is thick and difficult to breathe. When the humidity drops, as it did Monday and Tuesday, the air is lighter and we feel much cooler than the actual temperature. If I get to put in a request, low 80s and low humidity make for excellent summer weather and I wish it would last longer.
Our water is officially warm and I'll probably stop mentioning it unless there is a spike or drop that might affect our fishing. This week it has finally warmed to higher at the places between the beach and the Gulf Stream than along the beaches. You can check the specifics through a series of buoys that monitor it and numerous other water and weather characteristics. The Carolina Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System (Carolina RCOOS) can be found online at http://carolinasrcoos.org.
While it is almost over, this is National Boating and Fishing Week (June 5-13). This is an annual celebration of boating and fishing that is coordinated by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF, www.rbff.org). A few free kids fishing events are scheduled for tomorrow across N.C. For more information on these events in N.C., visit www.ncwildlife.org and on the national level check with www.TakeMeFishing.org.
There wasn't a big run of kings this week from the piers, but the cobia decided to feed in their absence. The number of pier cobia along Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle had passed six when I was writing this and I had to assemble this a day early this week. The pier end fishermen who didn't score with cobia caught more big Hatteras bluefish. A few kings were caught by fishermen, most of them on the southern piers.
Spanish mackerel and flounder are a couple of other species that kept pier fishermen busy. The flounder are mixed with shorts and keepers, but there are enough keepers to make fishermen happy. Spanish mackerel may be caught by casting and rapidly retrieving Got-Cha jigs at any time, but fishermen say the best times are when a school of bait moves within casting distance of the pier. Pompano, and a few puppy drum are moving through the surf and just beyond.
There were windy and choppy conditions several days last week and weekend, but fishermen caught fish when they got out. The king bite isn't as wide open as it was a few weeks ago, but there are a few kings scattered around most of the artificial reefs and rocks a few miles off the beach. The kings are holding in a little better numbers from about 50 feet deep on out. Many of the places at least 10-15 miles off are also holding a few dolphin and those numbers should continue to improve. Live baits, or rigged natural baits, have been bringing the best results.
The cobia bite has slowed from its frenetic pace of a few weeks ago. However, there are still a few holding around bait pods along the beaches. It is also time for cobia to begin moving through the inlets. Two of my favorite places for this are Shackleford Banks and up to Middle Marsh and Harkers Island and Blair Channel in Ocracoke Inlet. Cobia may be encountered at any time, but I have found the rising tide and the first hour or so of the falling tide to be the most productive.
The offshore bite is still happening and dolphin have become the main part of the catch. Numerous boats reported good catches from the 90 Foot Drop out to and beyond the Big Rock off Cape Lookout and in the Steeples and Blackjack Hole areas off Cape Fear. There are still some wahoo and blackfin tuna in these areas, but yellowfin tuna remain very scarce. Yellowfin are most prevalent north of Cape Hatteras off Oregon Inlet and that shows in the results of the Pirate's Cove Tuna Roundup a few paragraphs down. Sailfish and marlin are arriving almost daily and should be available in good numbers during next week's Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
The offshore bottom fishing can be really good when you locate a rock that is holding fish. There are black sea bass, grunts and porgies on most rocks, wrecks and artificial reefs from about 50 feet deep on out. The grouper and beeliners may be moving in a little, but it seems like about 80 feet deep is the minimum for much success, with them. Jigging has become a popular way to catch these fish, but a heavy-duty double-drop bottom rig with larger hooks and chunks of bait is still my preferred way.
Spanish mackerel are off the beaches, around the inlets and around all three N.C. capes in good numbers. Boaters can catch them by casting the same Got-Cha jigs as the pier fishermen, trolling with 00 size Clarkspoons and by floating or light lining finger mullets or small menhaden around the boat. Casting is best done when a school is spotted and the live baits are usually most productive while anchored on a tideline at one of the many inlets or on one of the nearshore artificial reefs.
If Spanish fishing on one of the nearshore artificial reefs, you might double your catch by also dropping some mud minnows, finger mullet or peanut menhaden to the bottom for flounder. Many of these reefs hold flounder and the percentage of keepers is usually better than in inside waters. In inside waters and along the surf, there are a fair number of flounder, but it often seems there are more shorts than keepers. The same baits will also work well inside the inlets.
Puppy drum are one of my favorite fish. They are rambunctious regardless of size and fight like they are the bullies in the schoolyard. Even better, they are almost always hungry and looking to feed. The drum bite has been pretty good in the area marshes and last week I was able to help my friend Christopher Minish find the first pup for his mother. She had attended the WAIT, ladies-only fishing school, at Oak Island in early May and had been fishing a few times, but with only moderate success. She was excited about catching her first pup, but I believe we might have been more excited.
The news on speckled trout is still sparse. This week Capt. Gary Dubiel said he had found a couple of good spots on the Neuse River. That is good to hear and as they continue to feed and grow, maybe more will move toward the coast.
The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) is meeting this week in Orlando, Fla. There was a public question and answer session Monday evening, a public comment session Tuesday evening and the council was scheduled for meetings and briefing through noon Friday. One of the primary points of this meeting to approve Amendment 17A to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. This is the amendment to close the ocean bottom between Melbourne, Fla. and the Ga./S.C. state line, in depths of 98 to 240 feet, to all bottom fishing. The Amendment could be modified and approved in a different form, but this was the preferred option after the spring SAFMC meeting. Amendments to other fishery management plans will also be discussed. For more information visit www.safmc.net.
The American Sportfishing Association and Big Rock Sports have just released a sturdy of how this closure will affect fishing businesses in the South Atlantic Region. The report cites thousands of businesses will be affected, with a total loss of approximately 78 million dollars. Many of these are smaller "mom and Pop" businesses and will not survive their losses.
At the same time the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) will be meeting in New York, N.Y. Items on the agenda include discussions on mackerel, butterfish, squid, spiny dogfish and tilefish. For more information visit www.mafmc.org.
This is also Capitol Hill Oceans Week for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in Washington, D.C. I don't know enough about this group to offer an opinion, but will be paying more attention in the future. For more information visit www.nmsfocean.org.
Military Appreciation Day (MAD) 5 was held Saturday (June 5) on the Morehead City waterfront. The MAD event was a huge success with hundreds of servicemen attending. A first year MAD event will be held in Panama City, Fla. on July 31 and MAD 5.5 will be held in Oak Island in October. The MAD events are opportunities to show our service men and women we support them and get to know some of them. For more information on MAD and ways to assist, visit www.militaryappreciationday.org.
Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation held the 2010 Emerald Isle Youth Fishing Derby on Saturday, June 5th, at Bogue Inlet Pier. This year's derby was another successful event with 56 children participating in the fun. Every participant received a goody pack stuffed with goodies from local businesses along with a Youth Fishing Derby t shirt.
Matthew Pfaff caught a 21 inch long remora to win the prize for the largest fish. He was followed by Grace Goff with a 15 inch cobia, Taylor Davis with a 15 inch Spanish mackerel and Austin Cancellarich with a 12.5 inch pompano. Grace Goff landed six other fish to also catch the most fish for a Girl-8 and Up.
Daquan Dillahunt easily outpaced all the other youngsters for most fish as he caught 17. This was also good to top the division for Boy-7 and Under. Tyler Paredes caught nine fish to claim the most fish title for Boy-8 and Up. Taylor Jarrett caught five fish to pace the Girl-7 and Under division.
Fishing started at 9:00 A.M. and only one minute later Spencer Daughtry caught the first fish. The action continued non-stop for the full two hours until Dylan Nodurft landed the last fish at 11:00 A.M.
Several Unique Catches were also awarded prizes for being unusual. Hunter See caught a hermit crab, while Jenny Wise snagged an oyster shell and Aaron Smigelski and Kayleigh Wilson both landed sea robins.
For more information on this and other Emerald Isle Recreation Department fishing events, contact Brittany Wood, Recreation Coordinator, at 252-354-6350.
The Pirate's Cove Tuna Roundup was held June 3 to 5 at Pirate's Cove Marina in Manteo. This tournament features a three fish aggregate weight for yellowfin and blackfin tuna. There are angler awards for largest fish and categories for dolphin and wahoo. In spite of less than perfect seas, some nice tuna were landed.
The A-Salt Weapon, with angler Kenny Small, found the largest tuna, a 66.50 pound yellowfin and the heaviest three tuna at 155.50 pounds to win the Top Boat, Top Boat Daily and Top Angler Divisions. The A-Salt weapon also won the other Top Boat and Angler Daily Awards for the 46.50 pound yellowfin caught by Dawn Reaves. Reaves also received the Top Lady Angler Award for this tuna.
The Haphazard and Country Girl traded second and third places in the boat and angler divisions. Jeff Hawn landed a 51.50 pound yellowfin on the Haphazard to claim second in the Top Angler Division, but the Haphazard finished third in the Top Boat Division with 123.00 pounds. John Keely boated a 48.00 pound yellowfin on the Country Girl to anchor their 138.00 pound aggregate that scored second place.
Dave Dunton landed a huge 233.50 pound big eye tuna on the First Crack to win the Big Eye Division. Jamie Greer, also fishing on the First Crack, caught a 27.00 pound dolphin to win the Dolphin Division. There were no wahoo weighed during the tournament. Laton Russell claimed Top Youth Anglers for a 14.00 catch while fishing on the Waste Knot. For more information visit www.fishpiratescove.com.
The Fisherman's Post Spring Inshore Challenge was held Saturday, June 5, at Wrightsville Beach. This tournament featured the inshore species of flounder and speckled trout. Several live flounder were donated to the UNCW Aquaculture Lab and the proceeds are donated to the Cape Fear Community College Sea Devil Club.
Fred Davis of Carolina Beach was the big winner of the tournament. Davis won the Trout Division with a 4.81 pound speck and added a 4.63 pound flounder to also win the Flounder and Trout Aggregate Division. Ricky Kellum finished in second place in the Trout Division with a 4.45 pounder, while Barry Yopp weighed a 4.20 pound speck to finish third.
Eric Wingo and Team Marine Warehouse won the Flounder Division with a very healthy 7.07 pound flounder they caught in the Cape Fear River using a peanut pogie for bait. Vince Lewis weighed a 6.18 pound flounder to finish second, while Dennis Durham brought in another citation flounder at 5.61 pounds, but had to settle for third. For more information visit www.fishermanspost.com.
The 19th Annual Bald Head Island Fishing Rodeo was held June 3 to 5 from Bald Head Island Marina on Bald Head Island. This is a multiple species offshore tournament based on aggregate weight of dolphin, tuna and wahoo. Proceeds from the tournament, which attracted 21 boats from across N.C., will be donated to the Old Baldy Foundation for the preservation of Old Baldy, North Carolina's oldest lighthouse.
Captain Barrett McMullan and crew from Ocean Isle caught a combined weight of 246.50 pounds to set a new tournament record in route to claiming the win. They were fishing aboard the OIFC. Captain Austin Eubanks and the crew aboard Sandy Beach caught 129.36 pounds to finish in second place. Previous winner, Capt. Joey Johnson and crew of the Reel Quick finished in third place with 65.22 pounds
The Top Lady Angler Award went to Cindy Early aboard The Office II for catching an 18.16 pound dolphin. Cameron Bailey, who fished aboard Lane Choice, won the Top Junior Angler trophy by catching a 21.51 pound wahoo. Eric Snover, who fished aboard Sarcastic, received the Catch and Release Billfish Award for catching and releasing a sailfish. For more information visit www.baldheadisland.com.
Tournament activity slows a little this weekend. The Lady Big Rock is the only tournament on my schedule. It will be held Saturday, June 12, from the Morehead City Waterfront. The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament will begin Monday, June 14 and fish through next Saturday, June 19. This is one of the largest billfish tournaments on the East Coast and attracts almost 200 boats from around the world. Weigh-ins will be each afternoon on the Morehead City Waterfront. Proceeds are donated to many worthwhile charitable and civic causes. For more information and to track the tournament on-line, visit www.thebigrock.com.
The Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting the Oak Island Open Pier Tournament on June 19 and 20. Pier fishing is going well and this should be a great tournament. The OIOPFT is a unique pier fishing tournament for all levels of fisherman. Participants can fish on either Oak Island or Ocean Crest Piers, from 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Saturday and 6:00 A.M. until noon on Sunday.
The tournament features three categories and fishermen may enter one, two or all three. Category 1 includes spot, croaker, whiting, spade, pompano and pinfish; Category 2 includes Spanish, bluefish, sheepshead, trout, red drum, black drum and flounder; Category 3 includes king mackerel, cobia, jack crevalle, amberjack and tarpon. For more information visit www.oakislandpiertournament.com or call 278-5518.