The weather forecast has these consistent 15 to 20 knot winds dropping out for the weekend. Of course, the 5-10 knot winds they are replacing them with are to be from the east which usually isnít too good either. I guess weíll deal with what we have and hope for the best. At least the rocking and rolling will calm for a while. Who knows what next week will bring?
Speaking of that wind, Friday was supposed to be the first day of spring, but the weather systems just havenít quite leveled out like they should. The weather has been hot and cool and just canít get it together. The arrival of a warm, calm summer teases us occasionally, but that late surge of winter still has things a little off balance.
If you somehow havenít noticed, weíve been having a lot of rain. To a point that is a good thing, but it can get overdone. Last Friday I heard a report that for the first time since March of 2010, there isnít anywhere in N.C. that is under a water shortage advisory or in some stage of drought. Sometimes itís tough to find that silver lining in those storm clouds, but there usually is one if you search hard enough.
We have another spring/summer special event this week. Sunday, June 23, is when the full moon will be the closest to earth during 2013. The moon will appear really large and someone has coined the name Super Moon for the event. In addition to the visual spectacle, this will create high tides that are significantly higher than usual and low tides that are noticeably lower than usual.
It would be wise to plan the extreme tides into your fishing. There are two things of importance; redfish are tailing and you might not be able to cross some shallow places at low tide.
The rainwater running down the rivers and sounds is carrying some affluent and has slowed inshore fishing in places. The way to avoid this seems to be fishing in the creeks rather than the main bodies of the rivers. Sometimes there is extra affluent from erosion being carried by the runoff and this irritates some fish and causes them to relocate. Most of the time they move right back to the same area once the water clears, but if there is lots of food wherever they move, they arenít so anxious to leave it.
The fish that stay in the murkier water canít see to find baits as well, so it appears their bite is off. Drum and flounder are two species of fish that can tolerate extra effluent in the water. When you locate a place holding them, using baits or lures with scent helps the fish pinpoint the baits. Flounder arenít the most active and usually feed by hiding and attacking, but when they are hungry, they will chase baits and it makes for a hot flounder bite. This is something you have to see to appreciate.
Red drum have the best nose in the inshore waters. Many fishermen believe this honor goes to sharks, but Iíll vote for puppy drum every time. They have the ability to home in on food from smelling it and sometimes this ability is uncanny. Since the drumís sense of smell is so good, use it to your advantage when the water is murky. This is a good time to use an oily cut bait instead of a live bait and certainly is a time to add scent to lures. Use a big piece of bait to so it can disperse lots of small pieces and scent as the bait thieves pick at it.
Drum and flounder are both primarily bottom feeders and often are still holding very close to where they were before the muddy water rolled in. Flounder may even be in the same places as much of the runoff is above them in the water column. Concentrate on those areas they were before and add some scent to help them locate the baits. This is also a good time to use some flash and noise and spinnerbaits create a thump as they spin. Both flounder and drum will readily hit spinner baits and some folks catch trout on them too. A spinner bait with a Gulp! for the lure is a smart choice.
Speaking of trout, they have sensitive gills and tend to run from the extra effluent in heavy rainwater runoff. Many times they move to the backs of creeks rather than out to the open. Check the holes well back up in the creeks for trout and add some scent to help get them interested and make it easy to find the baits.
Fishing slower helps sometimes as does concentrating on fishing noisy topwater lures they can locate by sound. Several fishermen said having frisky live bait has been a big key to catching specks. While they will hit on the bottom, most trout like the bait suspended just above the bottom under a float.
Sheepshead are biting well in many places along the coast, but a hotspot is the State Port Wall and the pilings for the high rise bridges at Morehead City. Sheepshead prefer sea urchins and fiddler crabs and they must be fished immediately beside the piling or structure.
Even though the surf and pier zone has been dirtier than usual for a few weeks, the fishing hasnít fallen off badly except for the kings and cobia at the southern part of the state. Surf and pier catches include mixed bottom fish like red drum, black drum, flounder, sea mullet, pompano and such. Once the water clears a little more, hopefully the Spanish macks will return in big numbers and brings some more cobia and king mackerel.
Spanish mackerel are biting well in most places, especially early and late in the day. With the water warming, they can sometimes get finicky during the middle of the day. They have been hitting Got-Cha jigs cast and retrieved quickly and small (size 00 and 0) Clarkspoons trolled quickly. Some days gold Clarkspoons seem to catch better than silver or those with colored prism tape.
A word of caution on fishing for Spanish mackerelÖ They have moved offshore a little and some kings are moving in. Some of the kings are small and you need to know the difference between large Spanish and small kings. They look really similar, but have different limits. For Spanish you can keep up to 15 fish and the minimum size is 12 inches. This is 3 fish and 24 inches for kings and it is an expensive ticket when you confuse the two.
The easiest way to tell the difference between Spanish and kings is to look at the front edge of the forward dorsal fin. If the leading edge of the forward dorsal fin is black, it is a Spanish mackerel and if the leading edge is gray, it is a king mackerel. Sure, there are other differences, like the lateral line of a king drops quicker than on a Spanish, but they arenít always reliable. The black spot is there on every Spanish mack and it is what the Marine Patrol officer will look for if you are checked.
Moving off the beach in the ocean the fishing reports are pretty good. Several fishermen reported catching kings in the 40 to 60 foot depths and they hadnít been there earlier. If there is something missing, it is cobia. They have suddenly gotten pretty scarce after TS Andrea. A few were caught last week, but the cobia bite hasnít been anywhere near as strong as before the storm. It my have been about time for them to move on anyway, but they have scattered. A few were caught this week and a few should be caught along all summer and fall, but the spring run is probably over.
King mackerel fishermen also reported catching dolphin and a few sailfish closer in than expected over the weekend. Some were caught as close as 60 feet deep, but a lot of dolphin were caught from there to 100 feet deep. The sailfish were primarily on the deeper end of this, but are following bait towards shore. When the water cleans up, they sometimes move surprisingly close to shore.
This has started as a good year for amberjack. They seem to be on most wrecks and any large natural structure. Amberjack are great fighters and earned the nickname reef donkeys for their stubborn refusal to give up. There are debates about their quality as food.
The kings, dolphin and amberjacks 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. If your uncle from West Bygod comes to town and wants to catch a fish that fights hard, all you have to do is introduce him to Mr. Amberjack. They are ready and willing to bite and once you satisfy that request, you can head to somewhere holding dolphin, kings and other fish you hold in higher regard.
While the larger boats handle the choppy seas pretty well, they become a rock and roll fest for the center console crowd. Still, those fishermen head offshore whenever they can. The Gulf Stream eddies are still holding dolphin, wahoo and a few tuna, especially north of the Big Rock up to above Oregon Inlet. There are some very large dolphin being caught, but the summer wahoo are mostly smaller.
Fishermen on The Hooker, with Capt. Tom Krauss out of Oregon Inlet, got a huge surprise last week when a blue marlin estimated at 1,000 pounds plus ate a 50 pound tuna they were reeling in. The mate had the leader three times before the huge marlin broke the line so it was a legitimate release. It was a huge fish. If anyone would like to see what a fish this large looks like, there is a short video in the fishing reports on the North Carolina Sportsman website at www.northcarolinasportsman.com.
Offshore bottom fishing continues to be good. The bottom fish being caught include black sea bass, grouper, beeliners, triggerfish, grunts, porgys and an occasional hog snapper or African pompano. Always keep a light line out when fishing the bottom in the ocean. Many of the fish you are pulling up from the bottom are regurgitating on the way up and that is chum for fish that live suspended in the water column. Kings, dolphin, amberjack, African pompano and occasionally sailfish are caught on the light lines.
This weekís tagged great white report finds Mary Lee continuing to enjoy 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 week or so ago and has moved to within about 150 miles off the N.C. Coast on a course that should bring her to the coast roughly around Cape Fear.
Could Lydia be coming in to meet with Mary Lee? Great Whites eat sea turtles and from N.C. to Fla. is a prime nesting area just as the nesting season is peaking. 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 additional 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 stateís 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 Carolinaís 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 Fisheriesí 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 ó 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 ó Projects that improve the effectiveness of existing environmental programs or that identify, designate or protect coastal recreational fish habitat;
*People ó 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 Fisheriesí 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 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 best news coming from the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) meeting in Stuart, FL. last week was their voting down the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) requirements of Amendment 20 for commercial snapper/grouper fishermen. For more information on the SAFMC, visit their website at www.safmc.net.
Take a Kid Fishing (TAKF) was held on Tuesday, June 18 in Morehead City and Swansboro. Hundreds of underprivileged kids from across NC were treated to a day of fun and fishing. The opportunities included sightseeing events, pier fishing and fishing from a variety of headboats. After fish there were picnics and the Crystal Coast Convention Center and the Swansboro Civic Center. Iím sorry I didnít have this great event listed before hand, but I didnít receive a press release on it until after last weekís deadline. Those interested in volunteering for future TAKF events or making donations can find more details at www.takf.org.
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.
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 Carteret Community College Foundation will hold the CCCF Spanish Mackerel Challenge on June 29 from The Boat House in Beaufort. In addition to Spanish mackerel there will also be categories for other fish. All proceeds will benefit Carteret Community College programs or students. For more information visit www.carteretsmt.com.
The HOW- Combined Forces NC Cup Kayak Fishing Tournament will be presented on Sunday, June 30 in Swansboro by the N.C. chapter of Heroes on the Water (HOW, www.heroesonthewater.org). This is a team tournament. For more information on the tournament or to volunteer with HOW, connect with Heroes on the Water Ė Combined Forces NC on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HeroesOnTheWaterCombinedForcesNC?fref=ts.
Pirates Cove Marina in Manteo will host the Pirateís Cove Small Fry Tournament on June 27 and 28. The tournament is for kids form 3 to 15 years old and prizes will be awarded for the best catches of spots, bluefish, trout and flounder. For more information visit www.fishpiratescove.com.
The Jodi Tynch Memorial King Mackerel Tournament will be held June 28 to 30 from in Wrightsville Beach. This is a one day tournament and participants will be allowed to choose to fish either Saturday or Sunday. Proceed from the tournament will be donated to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice Foundation. For more information visit www.joditynchkmt.com.