We got a couple of breaks in the wind during the last week and fishermen took advantage of them. The fishing ranged from excellent on the inshore side, to still a bit bumpy, but pretty good in the ocean. The long range forecast shows the wind velocity dropping a little, but these are the dog days of summer and it should be hot and still. The hot is here; hopefully we will see some lighter winds before too long.
Iíll continue urging everyone to use lots of sunscreen and to stay hydrated. They are very important when it is this hot. Also, pay attention to the weather and be prepared to run for cover from sudden and severe thunderstorms. They could happen at any time when the weather is this hot and humid and often roll up faster than the one late Sunday afternoon. There is usually wind and lightning and sometimes hail and you donít want to be caught on the water in one of them.
There are good reports of tarpon biting in the Pamlico Sound and Neuse Rivers. Large red drum are also biting in the same general areas. Tarpon like sun and heat and are more of a daytime fishery, while red drum like things a little more subtle and usually bite best late in the afternoon into the evening. Several tarpon have been caught (and released) from Bogue Inlet Pier at Emerald Isle, plus others were caught from Johnnie Mercerís Pier in Wrightsville Beach and Seaview Pier in North Topsail Beach over the weekend.
Flounder are the favorite inshore fish along the entire Carolina Coast and have been biting well all summer. There have been a handful of 10 pounders caught this year and Tim Lee and friends caught a 10.10 pounder to win the Cape Fear Flounder Classic last Saturday in Southport. The details are near the end of the column in the tournaments section, but it was a big fish and Lee and friends were excited.
Tournament fishermen target large flounder and primarily fish large live baits. There is no doubt that flounder like live baits, but Capt. Jimmy Price said they like artificials too. Capt. Jimmy said jigs with flounder strips are good ways to catch flounder. He said fishermen can cover more bottom using the artificial baits and that flounder hit them hard enough you can set the hook as soon as you feel them and not have to wait for it to turn the bait to swallow it.
Puppy drum have been biting well also. They may be anywhere from the backs of the creeks to the surf in the ocean. Puppy drum are usually feeding and will hit live baits and a variety of lures. Many times they are in murky water and I like to use spinners on my lures to help the drum find them. The Redfish Magic is a popular version of this and works well. I like to use a heavier wire and put the spinner in line with the bait rather than above it.
The principle is the same whether the spinner is offset or in line. The spinning blade creates flash and adds a vibration to the water. Drum like them and track them down. Flounder and several other fish will also hit the lures with spinners. I use this in front of jig heads and soft plastics, like the Redfish Magic, plus with weedless spoons. I feel like I can work deeper in the structure with the weedless spoons and rarely get hung up.
A surprising number of summer trout are being caught. The heat usually turns them off pretty early in the day, but they have been biting. Rising tide usually brings a shot of cooler water to the creeks and that has been the best time to catch trout. In this heat, trout are lethargic and wonít always chase artificial baits. A live shrimp, dangling under a cork, is the most reliable bait for trout when the water is this hot.
Pier fishing is pretty good for the first of August. The water is hot and fishing is a little slow, but it could break out at any time. There are some nice catches, just not quite as steady as they have been or will be again in a few more weeks. Pier fishermen have been catching a mixture of flounder, pompano, black drum, trout, red drum, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and more. Some inquisitive tarpon have been biting the king baits at the end of the piers.
Spanish mackerel have been dependable for trollers along the beaches and just outside the inlets. There are a lot of smaller Spanish, but a few larger ones are mixed in. This mixture will continue to improve into the fall.
There was a decent king mackerel bite last weekend. The directions I got when I asked about king mackerel and dolphin was to head offshore to the Horseshoe or Shark Hole and slow troll either live baits or frozen cigar minnows. If kings and dolphin are in these areas, logical thinking says they should also be in other spots with 60 to 75 feet of water and good bottom structure. A few sailfish are being caught too.
Offshore bottom fishing is good. Fishermen are catching limits of black sea bass, grouper and beeliners, plus a mixture of grunts and porgys. There are some big fish too.
A pair of state record catches for offshore bottomfish was approved last week. The 43 pound, 8 ounce gag grouper caught May 12 by David Abernethy, of Newport, became the first N.C. state record for gag grouper. Ben Peterson, of Jacksonville, broke an existing record for queen triggerfish, with his 0 pound, 11 ounce catch on July 3. It was six ounces heavier than the existing record.
There will be a meeting on August 15 at 6:00 P.M. at the Hyde County Courthouse in Swanquarter to receive public comment on a proposed oyster sanctuary and artificial reef that is in the planning stages for five acres of soft bottom in the Long Shoal area. For more information contact Pelle Holmlund at 252-808-8055 or Pelle.Holmlund@ncdenr.gov.
You may not remember SB 821, but it passed during the short session and was signed by Governor Perdue during July. This legislation mandated reorganization in the N.C. Marine Fisheries and studies on merging Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources. The restructuring of the Marine Fisheries Commission Advisory Committees has been completed and the first round of meetings finished up on August 2. Those meetings were to discuss potential management options to reduce sea turtle and Atlantic sturgeon interactions in the estuarine gill net fishery and a review of amendment 3 to the N.C. Oyster Fishery Management Plan regarding seed oyster management areas and the minutes have been forwarded to the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) members.
The MFC will meet August 22 to 24 at the Brownstone Hotel in Raleigh to discuss these and other topics. An agenda will be coming soon and will be posted on the MFC website. For more information on N.C. fisheries meetings visit www.ncdmf.net. There will be a time for public comment at the meeting.
This is shaping up to be another busy tournament weekend. Closest to home, the Mity Might Tournament will be held from Wildlife Bait and Tackle in Southport on Saturday, August 4. This tournament involves using the miniature rods and reels, with their standard eight pound test line to catch the largest fish. It is always fun and there are stories galore at the weigh in. For more information call Wildlife Bait and Tackle at 910-457-9903.
The Starling Marine Summer Celebration Tournament will be held Saturday, August 4, from Wrightsville Beach. There are events open to everyone and the tournament is to celebrate the life and raise funds to help cover the medical expenses of Heather Pope Foster who lost her battle on June 2 to lung cancer. For more information visit www.starlingmarine.com.
The third of three tournaments in the 2012 Redfish Action Challenge Cup will be held from Town Creek Marina in Beaufort on Saturday, August 4. Redfish Action tournaments are for two person teams and feature the live weighing of a pair of redfish. This tournament will also decide the season champion. For more information visit www.redfishaction.com.
The Fishers of Men Inshore Tournament Trail Swan Quarter Showdown that was originally scheduled for July 21 will be held this Saturday, August 4, from the Wildlife ramp in Swan Quarter. For more information call 252-230-0359.