Last week as I was writing this Tropical Storm Andrea had us in her sights. Thankfully the wind wasn’t much more than a strong mullet blow, but it and all the rain has gotten the water stirred up. The ocean has been pretty bumpy, but the offshore fishing returned to normal by Sunday and has been basically good since. The problem is the winds just don’t want to fall out and stay out and the ocean is rough.
Today is Thursday and there is a strong front supposed to push through sometime tonight. The forecast is for conditions to be better and cooler from Friday on and many fishermen are counting on it. This is Big Rock week in Morehead City and there are lots of fishermen, family and curious onlookers in the area. The weekend will bring other tournament scattered down the coast and hopefully the weather cooperates.
The offshore action has been good and that continued immediately after TS Andrea. Billfish, dolphin tuna and wahoo are all nibbling. Several fishermen said they believe the billfish action will pick up after the front passes and they are predicting lots of releases and a few more marlin brought to the dock before the Big Rock Tournament ends Saturday afternoon. They are also expecting the offshore gamefish bite to improve if the ocean calms.
There were a few fishermen out on Sunday and Wednesday in smaller boats and they reported catching kings, a few dolphin and lots of amberjacks at the rocks, wrecks and reefs in 70 to 110 feet of water. The fish are hitting live menhaden, frozen cigar minnows and frozen ballyhoo. There are already lots of reef donkeys and the numbers of kings and dolphin are growing.
Offshore bottom fishing has been good when the wind allows making the trip. Black sea bass are no longer endangered so you can take five of them home, plus some grouper, snapper, triggers and more. Check out the head boats when they come in one afternoon. There really is a mixture of fish.
Cobia fishing had been good before the storm, but it fell right out after it. A few cobia began biting again by Wednesday and now there are hopes the cobia will be biting again this weekend. Cobia have been following the bait along the beaches and holding around the nearshore artificial reefs. If you spot a turtle, especially a leatherback, within a couple of miles of the beach, give it a close pass and look around it for cobia. Cobia are known for swimming with turtles, especially the big leatherbacks.
Spanish mackerel are biting and they can be caught by plugging and by trolling. The top trolling lure is Clarkspoons. They have been around for more than 50 years and continue to catch Spanish macks, bluefish and more well. At this time of the season the 00 and 0 size usually catch best as the fish are feeding on smaller baits. Got-Cha jigs, especially the ones with gold hooks, are a good choice for casting for Spanish.
With the stirred up water along the beaches, pier and surf fishermen are catching a mixture of bottom fish. Red and black drum are some of the most preferred, but the list also includes sea mullet, croakers, trout, bluefish, flounder, pompano and more.
Flounder numbers are growing and they are showing up in more and more places. They have been on the artificial reefs and nearshore hard bottoms and around the inlets for a while. Flounder are now working into the sloughs and channels in inshore marshes and creeks. While the numbers are growing overall, there still are a fair percentage of shorts in the mix. Live minnows or soft plastics, moved slowly along the bottom are both great ways to catch flounder.
It’s a shame the limit is a single fish as some nice gray trout are holding around the pilings for the high rise and railroad bridges around Morehead City. These grays like live baits and can be aggressive at times. They are usually most aggressive at night, but sometimes it is a real problem getting the bait down to them, through all the bluefish that hold in the water column a few feet above the trout.
Sheepshead are one of those special fish and they are moving into many areas. They like vertical structure where there is some current. Around bridge pilings is an excellent place to catch them. Sheepshead prefer sea urchins and fiddler crabs fished immediately beside the structure. Sheepshead have a very subtle bite and can get the fiddler crab out of its shell without many anglers feeling it. Sea urchins are a bit crunchier and are easier for many fishermen, especially beginners, to feel.
Puppy drum were just starting to spread to most of their favorite summer haunts when TS Andrea blew through and muddied the waters. There are some pups in the stirred up surf zone and several fishermen said they storm wasn’t enough to move the drum around, they just weren’t seeing and smelling baits. They suggested using cut bait and pieces of shrimp to help the drum find it until the water clears a little more.
It wasn’t a surge, but speckled trout numbers seemed to be rising before TS Andrea too. Perhaps as the water clears, the trout bite will improve. For many years I have heard that the time to catch the largest trout was around the full moon in June. That full moon is Sunday, June 25, so the trout fishing should be good as the water clears next week.
In the final vote tabulation for the Ultimate Fishing Town poll conducted on-line by the World Fishing Network (WFN), Cape Hatteras slipped from the lead and was replaced by Point Breeze of Lake Ontario, N.Y. and Port Colborne, of southern Ontario, Canada. Cape Hatteras won Regional Town Honors and will receive a $3,500 community grant from WFN. A press release and listing of the other regional winners is available on the WFN website at www.worldfishingnetwork.com/uft/homepage.php.
This week’s tagged great white report finds Mary Lee enjoying the warmer water just inshore of the Continental Shelf off Savannah, Ga. She has been in the general area between Charleston, S.C. and Jacksonville, Fl. for the past month. Lydia, who had been swimming toward the middle of the ocean for a while, turned back towards the U.S. a couple of weeks ago and is a couple of hundred miles north of Bermuda. To keep an eye on the travels of Lydia and Mary Lee, plus other tagged sharks from around the world, open the shark tracker at www.ocearch.org.
According to the N.C. Legislature website, www.ncleg.net, as of Thursday morning there had not been any more movement of Senate Bill 58, (Increase Funding for Dredging) or House Bill 983 (2013 Fisheries Economic Development Act, commonly referred to as the gamefish bill). Details, wording and the progress of these two bills can be found at the N.C. Legislative website, www.ncleg.net. The contact information for all legislators can also be found at www.ncleg.net. Let your legislators and the committees know how you feel.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is accepting applications for proposals for the 2013-14 funding cycle from the N.C. Marine Resources Fund. The fund, which receives proceeds from the sale of Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses, provides grants for projects that help manage, protect, restore, develop, cultivate and enhance the state’s marine resources. Only universities, local and state governmental entities in North Carolina, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are eligible to apply. Others must partner with one of these eligible entities.
Proposals will be evaluated based on the Coastal Recreational Fishing License Strategic Plan for the Conservation and Improvement of North Carolina’s Marine Resources. The plan considers priority research needs identified in fishery management plans approved by the Marine Fisheries Commission, issues identified in the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan and research needs identified cooperatively with other agencies. The strategic plan can be found on the Division of Marine Fisheries’ website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=585d10cc-7591-408c-b5a0-f44ff893673e&groupId=38337.
Projects submitted for this funding cycle should fall under one of three programmatic areas:
* Fish — Projects that estimate recreational fishing effort, harvest and mortality of important coastal recreational fish species, the socio-economic attributes of coastal recreational fisheries or the characterization of catch and release mortality;
* Habitat — Projects that improve the effectiveness of existing environmental programs or that identify, designate or protect coastal recreational fish habitat;
*People — Projects that provide increased access to recreational fisheries resources and enhancement structures or provide better public education and enrichment products.
All proposals must be submitted to the director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries by 5 p.m. July 31. Directions for submitting a proposal and an application form can be downloaded from the Division of Marine Fisheries’ website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/crfl-grants-projects-applications-procedures. For more information, contact Coastal Recreational Fishing License Grant Project Coordinator Beth Govoni at 252-808-8004 or Beth.Govoni@ncdenr.gov.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Shrimp Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee will meet June 19 at 1:00 P.M. at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Field Office in Washington. For more information contact Trish Murphey or Chris Stewart at 252-808-8091 or 910-796-7215 or Trish.Murphey@ncdenr.gov or Chris.Stewart@ncdenr.gov. A copy of the agenda for the meeting may be downloaded from the DMF website at www.ncdmf.net.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Sea Turtle Advisory Committee will meet June 20 at 6:00 P.M. at the Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office in Morehead City. For more information contact Chris Batsavage at 252-808-8009 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov. A copy of the agenda for the meeting may be downloaded from the DMF website at www.ncdmf.net.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Bay Scallop Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee will meet June 24 at 12:30 P.M. at the Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office in Morehead City. For more information contact Tina Moore or Trish Murphey at 252-808-8082 or 252-808-8091 or Tina.Moore@ncdenr.gov or Trish.Murphey@ncdenr.gov. A copy of the agenda for the meeting may be downloaded from the DMF website at www.ncdmf.net.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) is about to wrap up their summer meeting which was June 10-14 in Stuart, FL. I hope to have a report on it next week. One bit of early news is that they did not approve the vessel Monitoring System (VMS) requirements. For more information on the SAFMC, visit their website at www.safmc.net.
Military Appreciation Day (MAD) has just announced their 2013 MAD 8 event in Southport will be on Sept. 21. This is a smaller all volunteer event like the one just held in Morehead City to show support for active duty service members from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. The troops will be treated to a day of fishing and a large picnic dinner in the afternoon. This is an opportunity for those who missed the MAD event in Morehead City on June 1 to become involved and for those who had such fun to do it again.
In addition to boats and captains to take the troops fishing, volunteers are needed for many land side activities, such as registration, preparing the meals, set up, take down and even for cleaning fish. For more information and details on this event, visit the MAD website at www.militaryappreciationday.org.
Heroes on the Water (HOW, www.heroesonthewater.org) is a national organization that focuses on helping veterans recover through kayak fishing and the NC Chapter is Heroes on the Water – Combined Forces NC. There are several events coming up and there are many different ways to volunteer and help. The next event is the Shell Rock Landing Fish-n-Meet on June 15 at the Shell Rock Landing Wildlife Ramp near Swansboro. For more information or to volunteer with HOW, connect with Heroes on the Water – Combined Forces NC on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HeroesOnTheWaterCombinedForcesNC?fref=ts.
The Inshore Fishing Association held the second of their Atlantic Division Redfish Tournaments in Charleston, S.C. last weekend and N.C. Fishermen were well represented in the results. The tournament was won by the Swansboro team of John Hislop and Rick Patterson, with Rennie Clark and Drew Arndt of Wilmington in second and Matt and Ray Lamb of Chasin’ Tails Outdoors in Atlantic Beach finished fifth. Congratulations!
The 2013 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament began on June 8 in Morehead City and continues through June 16. The first event was the Keli Wagner Lady Angler Tournament that was originally scheduled for June 8, but was expanded to allow a captain’s choice of June 8 or 9. The Big Rock Tournament began on June 10 and there will be daily weigh-ins at the Big Rock Landing on the Morehead City Waterfront in Morehead City. In spite of far less than ideal sea conditions, the fishermen are finding some fish and there has been action at the scales every afternoon. For more information visit www.thebigrock.com.
The Carousel Center Flounder Tournament that was scheduled for June 8 at Tex’s Tackle and Inlet Watch Yacht Club in Carolina Beach has been postponed until July 27 due to the arrival of Tropical Storm Andrea. The Carousel Center is a non-profit organization committed to assisting victims of child abuse, providing critical care services to children from approximately eight counties throughout southeastern NC and this is one of their fund raising events. For more information visit www.carouselcenter.org.
The Sudan Daredevils Shallotte Point Flounder Tournament will be held June 13-15 at the Shallotte Point VFD in Shallotte Point. For more information call 910-512-4397.
The Jolly Mon King Classic will be held June 14 – 16 from the Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach. This tournament is a one day event, but allows participants to choose to fish either Saturday or Sunday, whichever is best for them. It is the first tournament in SKA Division 9. For more information visit www.oifc.com.
The Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department will hold a Kids Fishing Derby on Saturday, June 15. The tournament, which is for kids 13 and younger, will be held at Oak Island Pier from 10:00 A.M. until noon. There is no registration fee and kids may register that morning, but participants must furnish their own rod and reel and bait. Prizes will be awarded by age groups and fish species. After fishing there will be pizza for the kids. For more information call 910-278-5518.
The East Coast Sports Kids Tournament will be held Saturday, June 15, at Soundside Park in Surf City. There will be a variety of age groups and special prizes. For more information visit www.eastcoastsports.com.
On June 16, the Southeastern King Mackerel Club will host their annual Fishing With Special Friends outing on Johnnie Mercer’s Pier in Wrightsville Beach. For more information visit www.southeasternkingmackerelclub.com.
The 54th Annual Blue Marlin Release Tournament will be held at the Hatteras Marlin Club in Hatteras on June 17-24. For more information visit www.hatterasmarlinclub.com.
The Sneads Ferry Lions Club Pinfish Tournament will be held June 22 from the Sneads Ferry Community Center in Sneads Ferry. While the primary species of this tournament is pinfish, there are also special prizes for several other species. For more information call 910-455-3060.
The Southport Inshore Challenge will be held from Southport Marina on June 22. This is the second of a five tournament series for flounder. All of the tournaments will be held between Ocean Isle and Sneads Ferry. There is also an extra division for red drum. For more information visit www.fishermanspost.com.