It was nice to have those cool temperatures last week, but summer arrived Wednesday night and brought the heat with it. The temperatures have been rising a few degrees each day and we are looking at highs approaching 90 along the coast, while inland temperatures will be even warmer. With this heat and the humidity numbers almost matching, it really makes the afternoon sea breezes welcome.
Tropical Storm Chris formed and ran away from us quick, but the weather folks are worrying about some tropical weather over in the Gulf of Mexico they say may develop into something and run by us next week. Letís hope it doesnít form. Without it the weather looks good for a while. With the good weather, most of us are spending lots of time outside. Be sure to use plenty of sunscreen and drink plenty of water while enjoying the outdoors.
Smoke from the forest fire in the Croatan National Forest continues to drift to the coast or inland with the prevailing winds. This fire is from a controlled burn that got away from the Forest Service and has burned wild for a week. Last week the northerly winds pushed the smoke towards the coast and this week the southerly breezes are pushing it back inland.
Wind had a major negative effect on fishing last week and the lack of wind has been just as positive this week. We may have some stronger afternoon sea breezes as we move into the weekend, but water conditions have been excellent all week.
Spanish mackerel have been biting well along the beaches and that should continue. Trollers have been catching limits of small to medium size fish, while there have been a few approaching five pounds caught using live baits. There are a pair of Spanish tournaments this week and their catches should prove interesting. Expectations are certainly for some larger fish.
The best inshore/nearshore fishing of the past week was for flounder. Flounder have been thick on the nearshore reefs and hardbottom areas. The numbers are good and some larger ones have been caught too. Flounder are also scattered throughout most places along the Intracoastal Waterway and the coastal rivers. Some fishermen scored with artificial baits, mostly soft plastics, and others used live baits.
Puppy drum fishing is somewhat spotty. There are some places they are still in schools and when you find one the deal is on. However, they havenít moved into other places that usually hold them. The best recent action has been from Swansboro to the southern end of the state.
I believe itís safe to say the speckled trout activity has slowed some, but they are still biting. One fisherman said they had gone into summer mode and would hold out for live baits except for just a little while at first and last light. For that early morning topwater bite, the suggestion was to use smaller lures and work them slower, even occasionally pausing for a few seconds.
Pier fishermen are still catching a mixed bag of bottom fish that includes flounder, black drum, sheepshead, spade fish, specks, bluefish and more. Two large Spanish mackerel were caught on king rigs at Bogue Inlet Pier this week. Roger Whitley caught a five pounder and Chris Johnson caught one that was four pounds, ten ounces.
A couple of kings were landed over the weekend on the piers in the Wilmington area. There were two big pier end encounters from Bogue Inlet Pier this week, but a tarpon and a cobia got away.
Most of the tarpon hooked by pier anglers manage to escape, but a few are caught. The current N.C. state record (193 pounds and 5 ounces) was caught by Malcolm Condie on Sea View Pier at North Topsail Beach in 2008. The record before that was caught by Jesse Lockowitz at Bogue Inlet Pier and before that at the old Indian Beach Pier.
Spanish mackerel bit well again this week and filled fish boxes for many anglers. Once the wind fell out, fishermen headed farther offshore and caught fish. They found a few scattered kings and cobia and lots of dolphin. The mackerel and cobia were caught beginning at about the 50 to 70 foot depths and the dolphin were a little deeper.
Offshore bottom fishing is good when the conditions allow going. Black sea bass are biting anywhere you find them. Closer to shore many of them are shorts and catching a limit requires lots of releases and patience. They get larger as the water gets deeper and most fishermen believe more than half are keepers once you reach about 80 feet deep. Porgies, beeliners and grouper are biting well in the deeper depths too.
The boats that fished offshore this week caught dolphin. Gaffers are biting well right now, but should give way to slingers during the next few weeks. Some wahoo and blackfin tuna are still be around, but they are scattered. The best surprise will be hooking sailfish at just about any spot from about five miles off the beaches on out.
The Annual Take a Kid Fishing Outing was held Tuesday, June 19, from Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle and Swansboro. This is a day of fishing for disadvantaged and special needs children across N.C. Most of the kids boarded headboats for their day of fishing, but some headed to Bogue Inlet Pier and the Beaufort Seaport Pier at the Maritime Museum.
There were also tours of the N.C. Aquarium and Morehead City Harbor. All the participant gathered at the Crystal Coast Civic Center that afternoon for a cookout before heading home. Big smiles were everywhere, with kids and volunteers, all day. For more information on the Take A Kid Fishing Foundation and how to participate or donate, visit www.takf.org.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) voted for a very limited reopening of the red snapper fishery through an emergency rule that should take effect in August if approved by the Secretary of Commerce. Recreational landings would be limited to 9,399 fish and fishing would be limited to a few designated long weekends. Commercial landings would be limited to 3,668 fish or 20,818 pounds using a 50 pounds trip limit during limited designated seven day seasons. The plan is this limited fishery will produce catch data that can be used in the stock assessment scheduled for 2013. For more information on this and the SAFMC, visit their web site at www.safmc.net.
NOAA Fisheries Service (NMFS) has implemented a rebuilding plan for red grouper off the Southeast Atlantic States. The final rule (77 FR 34254) published in the Federal Register on June 11, 2012, and will become effective on July 11, 2012. Information on the seasonal allocations and daily limits is available on the NMFS website at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov and limits will be added to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Regulations page at www.ncdmf.net. Current red grouper regulations allow up to a total of three in aggregate with several other species.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) called a special meeting to deciding whether to grant or deny consideration of a request for declaratory ruling regarding a proclamation related to menhaden fishing ended. The MFC voted to end mothership based purse seining for menhaden in N.C. waters at their May meeting and Omega Protein, a menhaden processing company in Reedville, Va. that sends boats to N.C. waters to fish, filed the request challenging the validity of the proclamation implementing the decision.
Law requires action on the petition within 30 days and the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) received the petition May 31. If the MFC decides to grant consideration of the petition, attorneys will present their arguments at a later date. The request for declaratory ruling and the meeting agenda are posted on the DMF/MFC website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/june-2012-mfc-business-meeting. This will all be moot if the House concurs on SB 821 that the senate passed 47-2 on June 20.
The provisions of SB 821 include:
* Ban on mothership purse seine menhaden reduction fishing in North Carolina;
* Requirement that a super majority is necessary to override scientific recommendations from the Division of Marine Fisheries regarding measures needed to end overfishing or to rebuild overfished stocks;
* Study of merging the Division of Marine Fisheries and the Wildlife Resources Commission;
* Reorganization of Marine Fisheries Commission Advisory Committees;
* Establish new harsher penalties for knowingly gathering shellfish or shrimping in closed waters; and
* Study of coastal fishing license and boating fees with special emphasis on directing some of these funds to dredging inlets.
For more information on this and other N.C. legislation, visit www.ncleg.net.
On the federal level, H.R. 2578, The Conservation and Economic Growth Act, passed the U.S. House on June 19 and has been read twice in the Senate and referred to a committee. Title X of this legislation mirrors H.R. 4094, which was sponsored by Representative Walter B. Jones, Jr., (R-NC), and would authorize pedestrian and motorized vehicular access in Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.
Title X of H.R. 2578 would require the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to be managed according to the Interim Protected Species Management Strategy/Environmental Assessment (Interim Strategy) issued by the National Park Service (NPS) on June 13, 2007, until the NPS issues a new final rule. In addition, the bill would prohibit the final rule from including additional restrictions on pedestrian or motorized access to the seashore beyond those in the Interim Strategy unless the restrictions are based on peer-reviewed science and the public has had the opportunity to review and comment on them.
Hopefully this bill will move through the Senate quickly. Restoring access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore will be a great economic boost to the communities along the Outer Banks at a time when they sorely need it.
The 6th Annual N.C. Kayak Fishing Meet and Greet will be held on Saturday, June 23 at Fort Fisher. Kayak fishermen from across the state will meet and fish during the morning, then gather for a hot dog lunch. The launch point is the Federal Point Wildlife Ramp at the end of U.S. 421. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a lot of tournament action scheduled for this weekend. On the Crystal Coast the Carteret Community College Foundation Spanish Mackerel and Dolphin Challenge will be held Saturday, June 23, from Boathouse Marina in Beaufort. Proceeds from the tournament benefit Carteret Community College. For more information visit www.carteret.edu.
The Sneads Ferry Lions Club will host their 12th Annual Pinfish Tournament on Saturday, June 23. In addition to the prizes for pinfish, there will also be flounder and trout divisions, plus special prizes for the junior and lady anglers catching the largest pinfish. Registration is open through Saturday morning. For more information call 910-455-3060.
The second tournament in the Redfish Action Challenge Cup Series will be held June 23 from Sneads Ferry. This is a team tournament (two fishermen) for an aggregate weigh of two live redfish. There are also special categories for the single heaviest redfish, the redfish with the most spots, plus prizes for the largest redfish caught by a lady or junior angler. For more information visit www.redfishaction.com.
The Cape Fear Anglers Club will present a Spanish mackerel tournament on June 23 from Inlet Watch Marina in Carolina Beach. Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the Boy Scouts. For more information visit www.facebook.com/capefearanglers#1.
The Southport Inshore Challenge will be held from Southport Marina on June 23. This tournament features divisions for redfish and flounder and an aggregate weight division for one of each. For more information visit www.fishermanspost.com.
The Jolly Mon King Mackerel Tournament, which was postponed from last weekend, will be held June 23 and 24 from Ocean Isle Beach. The Jolly Mon Tournament allows participants to choose to fish either Saturday or Sunday, based on their schedule, the weather or any factors they choose. For more information visit www.oifc.com.