As I am writing this, I keep looking over my shoulder at the insignificant little low from last weekend that has become Hurricane Arthur and is bearing down on us with latest projections to reach Category 2 strength as it brushes by Cape Lookout and sets its sights on Cape Hatteras. We would all like a shift to the east in its track, but as of the 11:00 A.M. update Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center forecasters didn’t see it happening.
Hopefully when we get up Friday, we will find the forecasters missed and so did Hurricane Arthur. I hope everyone is prepared and ready. With some luck, the worst we do this weekend is pick up tree branches and undo the storm preparations. By the time you read this, we’ll know how bad it was and the track will be history, not a prediction.
Happy 4th of July to everyone and Happy Birthday USA. As we celebrate the holiday, let’s stop and offer a prayer of thanks to our forefathers for their wisdom in creating the United States of America and to all the service men and women and other patriots that have defended us across the years.
I hope fishing recovers from the effects of Hurricane Arthur quickly. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries have declared July 4th as a free fishing day. It will be the one day this year that a fishing license is not required. It probably won’t be as busy here as farther south and inland, but it is an opportunity to take the kids and family fishing without needing licenses. It isn’t a free-for-all though. Wildlife and Marine Patrol officers will be on the water checking for safety equipment and enforcing fishing regulations, with special emphasis on boating while under the influence.
Fishing had been good prior to Hurricane Arthur passing and hopefully that will continue. Two bright spots over the past week were king mackerel and flounder. Good flounder catches were reported from inside waters and in the ocean. The main body of kings was about 20 to 30 miles offshore, but there were some small schools a little closer in. There were a few dolphin mixed in with the kings, especially those farther offshore.
Dolphin have been biting well from about 20 miles offshore out to the Gulf Stream. While there are still some nice dolphin, more bailers and shingles have joined the mix. There are also good numbers of marlin at the Gulf Stream and sailfish have been moving closer in.
Offshore bottom fishing has been good, with fishermen finding a mixed catch as close in as 80 feet of water. The best concentration has been at around 100 feet. In addition to grouper and beeliners, the offshore bottom catch includes black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts and porgys. A few kings and dolphin are being added to the catch by floating light lines behind the boat.
The 2014 red snapper season will open next Friday, July 11. We will have two, three-day weekends (July 11-13 and July 18-20) that red snapper can be kept and one, two-day weekend (July 25-26) that red snapper can be kept. The limit will be one per person per day, with no minimum size. The Division of Marine Fisheries is collecting red snapper carcasses for study and a list of red snapper carcass collection locations is below.
The nearshore action is for Spanish mackerel and flounder. Spanish macks are on the tide lines around the inlets, along the beaches in 12 to 25 feet of water and around the nearshore artificial reefs. Flounder numbers are growing on the nearshore artificial reefs and hardbottom/livebottom areas.
Pier fishermen are seeing a mixture of fish. There have been a couple of near misses on tarpon and cobia by the fishermen on the pier ends, but no big catches this week. The ocean should be settling down by the time this is out and maybe there will be a hot “after storm bite.” Sometimes it happens.
Inside the inlets, flounder fishing is slowly but surely taking the spotlight. There are numbers of not quite legal to 3 pounders and enough citation size (5 pounds) flatfish are being caught each week that catching one of the big flatties is a real possibility.
Speckled trout action has slowed in many areas since the season opened on June 15. I’m blaming the slowdown on rapidly warming water. There are still trout being caught, but they appear to be gathering in specific areas, rather than being as widespread as they had been.
Trout are in the creeks and sounds along the entire state. With the warmer water, they are tending to hold in the deeper holes off the end of large oyster rocks. Look for these with current running by, especially on the falling tide. I like live shrimp suspended under a cork, but also fish using shrimp shaped soft plastics. The scented baits, or those with a scent like Pro-Cure added, seem to work best. If pinfish and other bait thieves are a problem, try raising your bait off the bottom about six inches at a time.
Puppy drum are in many of the same general areas as flounder and trout, but tend to be on the flat around the hole. Drum will fight more current than trout, but they like to be behind something that disrupts the tidal flow and makes it easy for them to hold position. Puppy drum like live baits just like trout and flounder, but when they are ready to feed anything is fair game. They are lots of fun to watch hit topwater lures as their mouths are on the bottom of their heads and they have to roll on their side to hit the lures. Saltwater spinnerbaits are growing more popular every year for puppy drum, but soft plastics are still the most reliable of the artificials for them
2014 Red Snapper Carcass Collection Locations
The red snapper carcass collection program will operate as it has in the past three years with a citation and rewards for bringing a red snapper carcass and filling out the information card. Freezers will be stationed at the collection sites with instructions on how to deposit carcasses. There will be information cards to complete and pack with each carcass. The information requested will be basic information pertaining to how and when the fish was caught.
The carcass collection centers will be located at:
* Hurricane Fleet – 9975 Nance St. – Calabash;
* Ocean Isle Fishing Center – 65 Beach Causeway – Ocean Isle Beach;
* Carolina Beach Fishing Center – 313 Canal Drive – Carolina Beach;
* Tex’s Tackle – 215 Old Eastwood Road – Wilmington;
* Dudley’s Marina – 106 Cedar Point Blvd. – Swansboro;
* Capt. Stacy Fishing Center – 415 Atlantic Beach Causeway – Atlantic Beach;
* Carolina Princess Fishing Center – 604 Evans St. – Morehead City;
* Oden’s Dock – 57878 N.C. Hwy 12 – Hatteras.
A map of these locations is posted at the DMF website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/snapper/freezer-locations.
Sea Turtle Advisers Needed
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) is seeking individuals to serve on the Sea Turtle Advisory Committee and provide advice on various issues related to sea turtles. Individuals interested in serving as an adviser should be willing to attend meetings at least once every three months and participate in the committee process, which includes reviewing scientific documents and issue papers to make recommendations on management strategies. Advisers will be reimbursed for travel and other expenses incurred in relation to their official duties.
The duties of this committee will include, but are not limited to:
* Providing recommendations on reducing sea turtle interactions in commercial and recreational fisheries;
* Reviewing information on sea turtle strandings and interactions; and
* Assisting with public education.
Applications are available online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/mfc-advisory-committees or at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ offices or by calling 252-808-8022 or 800-682-2632. Applications should be returned by July 18 to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557, Attention: Lauren Morris or e-mailed to DMF.Advisors@ncdenr.gov. Committee members will be appointed by the MFC Chair and will serve three-year terms.
July 15: MFC Finfish Advisory Committee, 6:00 P.M., NCDENR Regional Office, Washington, Jason Rock 252-948-3875 or Jason.Rock@ncdenr.gov or Casey Knight
252-948-3871 or Casey.Knight@ncdenr.gov.
Tournaments, Seminars, Club Meetings and Events
July 1 to August 31: Chasin’ Tails Sheepshead Challenge, Chasin’ Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.
July 9 to 12: Hatteras Grand Slam, Billfish and offshore gamefish, Hatteras Harbor Marina, Hatteras, www.hatterasgrandslam.com.
July 12: Cape Lookout Shootout King Mackerel Tournament Series, Tournament 1 of 3, King mackerel, Jaycee Park, Morehead City, http://capeshootout.weebly.com.
July 12: All American Flounder Tournament, Wildlife Bait and Tackle, Southport, www.wildlifebaitandtackle.com.
July 12 and 13: East Coast Got-Em-On Classic, King mackerel, Carolina Beach Boat Docks, Carolina Beach, www.gotemonliveclassic.com.