Dang this wind! The way the wind has blown since my return from Michigan, I'm wondering if some of the magic (curse) from my friend Justin Conrad's ability to generate wind has rubbed off on me. I hope it's just a coincidence, but the wind has been pretty brisk since Mother Nature realized I had returned home. It looks to be staying pretty breezy through the weekend, but may moderate next week. If you head into the ocean until then, be safe and be prepared for a rough ride.
Talking about the wind and ocean conditions, I feel I have to mention a couple of boating issues from last week's fishing. Thankfully all 14 were rescued, but events like these are painful reminders that all should be right and the weather good before venturing forth on the ocean.
The Reel Time, a 41 foot boat sank Friday during the Barta Boys and Girls Clubs Billfish Classic in Beaufort last week. It began taking on water faster than the bilge pumps could handle. The boat was participating in the tournament and had eight adults and children on board. They were only a short distance out and other tournament participants and the authorities responded immediately. The folks spent about an hour in the water and then five were brought in my the Navy vessel Tempest, two more by the Coast Guard and one young lady received a ride in Pedro, the Marine rescue helicopter based at MCAS Cherry Point. Thankfully everyone was picked up from the water in short order and not much the worse for their experience.
The second incident was in Bogue Inlet also on Friday morning. An outboard powered boat with six folks on board swamped and rolled in the inlet. While certainly as dramatic for the folks on board, at least this incident took place close to land. Four persons were picked up by the Billy Anna, a Swansboro charter boat, and the other two were picked up by the Swansboro TowBoat US. Bogue Inlet, like Lockwood Folly Inlet, can be very rough on the combination of an outgoing tide and much southwest wind and those were the conditions this boat faced. Again, thankfully everyone was picked up from the water in short order and not much the worse for their experience.
While it is difficult to know when a hose will break, a fitting slip or something similar, which is suspected to be the cause of the larger boat's problems, it is wise to ask about unfamiliar waters and then heed the advice given by local waterman. In this same vein, when asked about inlet or sea conditions, it is the responsibility of the locals asked for advice to give good advice and not assume or downplay anything.
Some stimulus money is being used for a fishing project! The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently working to repair a scour hole at the base of Lock and Dam Number 1 near Riegelwood on the Cape Fear River and some of the stimulus money is paying for it and a rock weir fish ladder that will be added. One day last week they held a Visitor's Day and Park Ranger Tom Charles explained how the rock weirs that are to be added will help anadromous fish, such as shad, stripers and sturgeon, continue their spawning migrations up the Cape Fear.
The Cape Fear River has three lock and dam sites between Wilmington and Fayetteville and they are not in situations where the dams could easily be removed. Currently the Lockmasters work the locks during spawning season to allow fish to swim upstream beyond them and there has been some success. According to a study released by N.C. State this spring, approximately 35 per cent of tagged shad and 25 per cent of tagged stripers get through all three locks to spawn. When the rock weir at Lock and Dam Number 1 is completed, sometime in 2012, expectations are for the number of fish fry in the river to increase by about 50 per cent.
Last week I mentioned the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) tackle show in Las Vegas. It wrapped up on Friday after a record attendance. The reports showed 413 exhibitors filled 1,223 booths. More than 2,200 buyers and 525 media representatives attended along with 900 attendees from the 63 countries that were represented.
The flagship feature of ICAST is the New Product Showcase and many companies compete for the prestigious Best of Show Awards. In 2010, 210 companies entered 750 of the industry's newest innovations in gear and accessories in the New Product Showcase. All the products in the New Product Showcase are entered into the "Best of Show" competition where buyers and credentialed media judged each product based on its level of innovation, execution, workmanship and practicality to select "Best of Show" honors in 17 categories, as well as the overall "Best of Show" winner.
This year, the G.Loomis NRX, was voted by buyers and media as the most innovative product in the ICAST 2010 New Product Showcase in both the freshwater rod category and the overall "Best of Show." Other 2010 ICAST New Product Showcase Award Winners included:
Apparel - Frabill, Inc. - FXE Stormsuit
Combo - Ardent/Lamiglas - C400/XC704 Fishouflage Bass
Electronics - Lowrance-Navico - Lowrance Elite-5 DSI
Eyewear - Maui Jim Sunglasses - Guy Harvey Collection
Fishing Accessory - Adventure Products, Inc. - EGO S2 Slider Landing Net
Giftware - Boating Expressions, Inc. -- Fishfenders
Kids Tackle - Pure Fishing - Pflueger-Spinning Combo-Apprentice
Line - Rapala - Sufix 832 Advanced Superline
Soft Lure - Koppers Fishing & Tackle Corporation - Live Target Hollow Body Frog
Hard Lure - Shimano American Corporation - Waxwing Sub-Surface Swimming Jig
Marine - Minn Kota-Johnson Outdoors, Inc. - Talon-Shallow Water Anchor
Freshwater Reel - Shimano American Corporation - Stella FE
Saltwater Reel - Shimano American Corporation - Trinidad A
Freshwater Rod - G.Loomis - NRX
Saltwater Rod - Shimano American Corporation - Terez
Tackle Management - HYI, Inc. - Openwater Tackle Backpack
Terminal Tackle - Sebile Innovative Fishing - Soft Weight System
These items and all the other new products will be working their way onto the shelves and racks at local tackle shops and marine dealers during the fall and winter.
While there wasn't another tarpon landed by a pier angler this week, but it wasn't because of lack of effort--and a few were sighted. I spoke with Captains Gary Dubiel and George Beckwith about tarpon in Pamlico Sound and the Neuse River and they said they had seen some, but hadn't caught one yet. They said a few had been landed and the fishing should improve if the wind ever dropped to normal velocities.
Only a couple of kings were caught from the ocean piers this week and they were ones in the southern part of the state. The wind stirred up the water and Spanish weren't around in their regular numbers, but pier fishermen were catching bottom species fairly well. The pier catches included flounder, trout, red drum, black drum, whiting and more.
When the wind subsides enough to go into the ocean without pounding and rolling too badly, fishermen on the nearshore artificial reefs are catching good numbers of Spanish mackerel and flounder. Those willing to take the time to catch a five-gallon bucket of jellyball jellyfish are also catching spadefish.
The easiest way to catch Spanish around the reefs is to troll some size 0 or 00 Clarkspoons on 20-foot leaders behind number 1 planers or four-ounce trolling sinkers. The best time is early morning or late afternoon, when the suns rays are not directly overhead. Larger Spanish are usually caught by anchoring or drifting and light lining three to five-inch pogies with a single size six treble hook on a short piece of light wire leader.
Spadefish are the challenge! They like the jellyball jellyfish. I thread a few jellyfish on a coat hanger and then tie a heavy sinker to the bottom and a rope to the top. I lower this down until it touches the reef and then pull it back up about 5-10 feet and let it hang until the spadefish start nibbling on it. At this point, carefully and slowly creep it up near the surface and tie it off.
Once the spadefish are feeding on the suspended jellyfish, put pieces of jellyfish on small stout hooks and lower them down beside the jellyfish suspended under the boat. It won't be long before one takes your bait and the deal is on. Spadefish fight very hard and are lots of fun to catch on trout and drum tackle. They also taste very good and you should invite a few home for dinner.
Dolphin continue to bite well when the wind allows getting to them. They are spread well from about 15 miles or so on offshore and are often mixed with king mackerel a little closer. Don't be surprised to hook one or two any time you are at 10 miles or more offshore. There are also some sailfish feeding with the kings and dolphin.
Inshore the trout bite is generally slow, but sometimes spikes, especially in the first hour after daylight. When the water is this hot, trout fishing is absolutely a case of the early bird getting the worm. Capt. Dubiel said he had a good topwater trout bite going in Adams Creek, but it only lasted from about daybreak until 7:00.
Flounder fishing is good as far as numbers go, but many of the fish are too short and must be released. Even though some fishermen say it is more, I'd say the undersize fish are about half of the catch. Drum are biting well and they are usually the most cooperative of the inshore fish. The secret is finding a creek, oyster rock or shoal that is holding them and then they bite like the schoolyard bullies they are.
Monday, July 26, will be the full moon and that is good for drum fishermen. The astronomical high tides that come with the full moon will put enough water in the marshes that red drum will be well up in the grass chasing fiddler crabs, shrimp and minnows. A sharp eye will spot them tailing and then it's only a matter of getting a bait in front of them without spooking them.
That full moon should also be good for the tarpon fishermen in the lower Cape Fear River across from Southport. This is when tarpon like to enter the river and feed behind Bald head Island and around Shellbed Island. Folks on the Southport waterfront should see the boat lights twinkling over there if the wind slows enough to go.
Only one Marine Fisheries Commission Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled during the week. The MFC Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee Meeting will be July 29 at 5:00 P.M., at the Chowan County Agricultural Ext. Center in Edenton.
For more information on this meeting visit www.ncdmf.net or call the MFC Office at 800-682-2632 or 252-808-8023.
The Barta Boys and Girls Club Billfish Tournament was held last Friday and Saturday in Beaufort. This was the fifth of seven tournaments in the 2010 N.C. Governor's Cup Billfish Series and 81 boats competed. In spite of a worrisome start, with one boat sinking and growing winds, the tournament was a success. The Barbara B, with Capt. Hunter Blount of Greenville, won the Billfish Division with 800 points. Those 800 points also earned Hunter Blount the Top Junior Billfish Angler award and Top Amateur Boat honors for the tournament.
The Miss Marilyn, with owner and Capt. Todd Saieed of Raleigh, was second overall, first in the Pro Boat Division and also scored 800 points. The Chain Link, with Capt. Ralph Griffin was third with 400 points. The Chain Link also claimed Top Wahoo Honors for Reid Walters with his 27.62 pound wahoo and second place in the Billfish Junior Angler standings for John Winstead with 400 points.
No tuna or king mackerel were weighed during the tournament. Noah Turner won the Overall Dolphin, Grand Slam Junior Angler and Top Junior Angler Dolphin Honors for the 32.36 pound dolphin he caught while fishing with Capt. Brian Harrington on the Run Off. Will Vanciver, who was also fishing on the Run Off earned second place in the Overall and Junior Angler Dolphin Categories for his 31.4 pound catch. Cara Schad scored 400 billfish points and was the third place Junior Billfish Angler while fishing with Capt. Cam Guthrie on the Impulse. For more information visit www.bartabillfish.com.
The Carolina Boat Builders Tournament fished Friday through Sunday from Pirate's Cove Marina in Manteo. This is a "Bragging Rights" tournament for boats custom built in the Carolinas. Sailfish were the order of the day all three days and the top three boats all prevailed with double-digit sailfish releases. The Qualifier, a Paul Mann, released 16 sailfish for 1,600 points to claim the win. Two fish back, the Rigged Up, an Omie Tillett, released 14 sailfish for 1,400 points and second place. The Smoker, an Irving Forbes, released 11 sailfish for 1,100 points and third place.
The Top Wahoo was a 22 pounder caught by the Figment, a Bayliss. The Top Dolphin was caught by the Sea Hag, a Blackwell, and weighed 35 pounds. The Top Tuna weighed 40.5 pounds and was caught by the Pelican, a Paul Mann. The Top Angler was Paul Mann fishing on the Qualifier with 1,000 points. Shelby Zimmer was the Top Lady Angler with 800 points and fished on the Smoker. Holton Clifton topped the Kids for Top Junior Angler honors with 300 points earned fishing on the True Grit. For more information visit www.fishpiratescove.com.
Several tournaments are scheduled for this week and weekend, but the only local one has been postponed. The Masters King Mackerel Tournament was scheduled for Saturday, July 24, in Atlantic Beach, but has been postponed due to a health issue in the promoter's family. When it is rescheduled, the dates will be listed in this column. For more information call 252-269-5165.
A "ladies-only" king mackerel tournament is being held this weekend from Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island. The Queen of Kings Pier King Mackerel Tournament will fish through early Sunday afternoon. For more information visit www.oceancrestpier.net.
Tournament three of Capt. Jimmy Price's Top Dog Flounder Series will be held Saturday, July 24, from Wildlife Bait and Tackle. There are numerous prizes and Capt. Price said a little more money has been added to the prize package. The proceeds from this tournament will benefit the less fortunate children of Brunswick County at Christmas. For more information visit http://topdoginc.weebly.com.
The Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting a Kids Fishing Derby on Oak Island Pier on Saturday, July 24. For more information call the Oak Island Recreation Department (910-278-5518) or Oak Island Pier (910-278-7006).