We started this week with the threat of Tropical Storm Emily passing offshore and are reaching the weekend with a pair of systems in the eastern Atlantic and Caribbean. TS Emily blew a little piling into the west coast of Florida and lost steam crossing the state. It regained tropical storm status briefly after reaching the Atlantic, but fell apart on Wednesday. The new systems bear watching, but hopefully they don't strengthen.
If you would like to know about potential storms at the earliest times and track their movements, I recommend Mike's Weather Page (www.spaghettimodels.com) in addition to the National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov).
Some fishing slowed a little this week and some picked up. I guess the fish are as confused as the weather, which gave us several days this week that resemble brief temperature breaks that usually occur later in August. Maybe this cooler weather with lighter winds will hang around for a while. It's not likely, but we can hope.
There are flounder, trout and red drum in coastal N.C. waters inside the inlets from Calabash to the Outer Banks. Unfortunately for fishermen, they have been moving around and aren't always in the same spots. Flounder are probably the most wide spread, with good flounder reports from the S.C. state line to Core Sound. Hook and line fishermen are catching them pretty well and giggers are finding limits most nights.
Specks and pups have continued to hit topwaters early in the morning, but it ends pretty quickly once the sun clears the tree and begins shining directly on the water. At that point they move to deeper water. Several fishermen said live shrimp fished deep, but off the bottom in deeper holes, have been producing specks. They said they caught a few on artificials and had better luck on shrimp shapes with a lot of scent.
A few fishermen have also been finding some pups in deeper holes. They often stay in shallower water, even during the heat, but the water has been warm enough they are apparently moving deep to stay cool. They said when the drum move deep, they have been hitting live baits best and usually prefer mullet minnows.
Large red drum are showing in the lower Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. There have also been a few big reds in the ocean off the Outer Banks, around Cape Lookout and off Oak Island.
Several fishermen reported catching tripletail in the bays and creeks off the lower Cape Fear River this week. The hot bait has been live shrimp or smaller mullet minnows, fished under a small float. The tripletails have been holding around something that gives a little shade, like crab pot floats.
There have been reports of tarpon from Southport to Pamlico Sound and even one caught from one of the Outer Banks piers. The hot spot for several weeks has been just beyond the surf off Topsail. Several tarpon fishermen said they expect hot action around the August full moon and my calendar shows it on August 7.
Spanish mackerel fishing continues to be wide open. The early morning is usually the best action, but they sometimes bite well in the afternoon too. Spanish are feeding on small baits right now and having small lures helps get them to strike when they're acting finicky.
Clarkspoons in size 00 will usually produce, but if you see Spanish feeding and can't catch them, sometimes one or two things will help. Spanish get boat shy and leader shy and dropping to 20 pound test or lighter leaders and making them longer sometimes helps. Using smaller lures sometimes helps too. Nungesser and Drove make 000 size spoons and I have caught them trolling small bucktails, like those used on speck rigs.
In addition to those inside the inlets, there has been a steady flounder bite at the nearshore artificial reefs and shipwrecks. Some fishermen fish larger live baits on heavier Carolina rigs than they use inshore, while others are jigging bucktails with trailers. Both are producing.
It is a bit early, but wahoo are showing back up offshore. There are also a few dolphin, tuna and billfish. While the others are spread along most of the NC Coast, most of the tuna from off Cape Lookout to the south have been blackfins, while a few yellowfins have been in the Hatteras catch and more yellowfins off Oregon Inlet.
The best news for the week is that effective Thursday afternoon power has been restored to Hatteras Island and Ocracoke and visitors will be welcome back beginning at noon on Friday (August 4).
King mackerel have been holding from 50-60 feet of water and out. There have been a few dolphin and sailfish occasionally feeding with the kings and they are pleasant surprises. Look for structure that is holding bait and bait pods suspended in the water are better than bait on the bottom.
Slow trolling live baits has been very effective for catching kings. Some fishermen are also doing well trolling dead baits, just a little faster. Don't forget to use your downriggers and put a bait or two well below the surface. Sometimes the bigger kings lurk underneath the smaller kings.
Offshore bottom fishing has been the most consistent offshore fishing since grouper season opened in May and it still is. If you get anchored over the right piece of structure, the action can be non-stop. Most bottom catches include a grouper or two, plus an assortment of black sea bass, beeliners, triggerfish, grunts and porgys. There are usually a few amberjack around structure that is holding a lot of bottom fish and there has been a good scattering of African pompano caught as well. If the action is good, the activity and scent of blood in the water will usually draw in a few sharks too.
Saltwater Anglers May Receive Fishing Survey
It is very important that anglers participate and answer as many questions as possible. By completing the survey, anglers help ensure that fisheries managers receive the best possible information about the economic effects of regulations. Individual responses will be kept strictly confidential. Results from the study will be aggregated to present an overall view of the economic status of the recreational fishery and published in a report that will be made available to the public at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/social-economic-data-reports.
The survey is a follow up to a previously conducted data collection in 2009. It seeks information on the economic characteristics of coastal recreational anglers’ fishing trips, as well as social and demographic characteristics. The information gathered in the survey will be used in fishery management plans and in developing economic impact models to help fisheries managers make informed decisions on various fisheries topics. The survey is being funded by the Marine Resources Fund which seeks to manage, enhance and protect the marine resources of North Carolina based on sound science and strategies. For more information, contact Adam Stemle, NCDMF Economics Program manager, at 252-808-8107 or Adam.Stemle@ncdenr.gov.
NOAA Fisheries Establishes Spawning Special Management Zones off
N.C., S.C. and FL
The final rule for Amendment 36 implements the following management measures:
* Establishes five spawning SMZs in federal waters of the South Atlantic region
off North Carolina (1), South Carolina (3), and Florida (1).
The Spawning SMZs include the following locations using corner coordinates:
Area 51: 32° 35.250N and 79° 28.600W; 32° 35.250N and 79° 27.000W, 32° 33.750N and 79° 27.000W; 32° 33.750N and 79° 28.600W (total of 2.99 square miles).
Area 53: 32° 22.650N and 79° 22.250W; 32° 22.650N and 79° 20.500W; 32° 21.150N and 79° 20.500W; 32° 21.150N and 79° 22.250W (total of 2.99 square miles).
The details of the monitoring for these Spawning SMZs Monitoring details are outlined in a System Management Plan (SMP) that can be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website. The link to this SMP is: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2016/am36/documents/pdfs/sa_sg_am36_app_n_smz_smp.pdf.
NOAA Fisheries Publishes Final Rule for Hogfish
In addition to specifying commercial and recreational annual catch limits and
accountability measures, the final rule for Amendment 37 will implement the
following management measures:
This information was published in the Federal Register on July 25, 2017 as 82 FR 34584 and was published by NOAA Fisheries as FB17-041 on July 26, 2017. View this and other Fishery Bulletins from NOAA Fisheries by visiting the website at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishery_bulletins/index.html.
WRC Hosts Ongoing Fishing Programs
There are numerous evening and weekend classes and programs offered at the Pechmann Center each month. For more information on the centers and their programs, go to the Wildlife Resources Commission website at www.ncwildlife.org and open the "Learning" tab. The John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center also has a Facebook page. There are always interesting programs at the Pechmann Center that include kayak fishing, fly tying, lure making, fishing tips and boating safety.
N.C. Aquariums Offer Fishing Programs and Youth Summer Camps
Wildlife Photo Contest
Only photographs taken in North Carolina since Sept. 15, 2013 are eligible for the competition. The categories include birds, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, animal behavior, outdoor recreation, wild landscapes, wild plants and fungi, youth photographer 13-17 and youth photographer 12 and younger.
Entries will be judged by a panel of staff from the Commission and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, as well as professional photographers. The grand prize winner will have his or her photo published on the cover of the January/February 2018 issue of Wildlife in North Carolina and will receive a check for $200. All winning photographs will be published in the magazine and exhibited at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. First place in all categories pays $100; second place, $75; and third place, $50.
The Commission is accepting entries online only — no slides, negatives or prints will be accepted by mail. Entrants may submit a maximum of two photos per category. Each photo must be in JPEG format and no larger than 2 megabytes each.
For more information or to submit a photo, visit the Commission’s Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition webpage (www.ncwildlife.org/contest). A video of the 2016s winning photos is posted on the Commission’s Facebook page.
USSA Schedules Kids Fishing Day for August 11 from Southport
After an arrival and welcome at Comfort Suites the afternoon and evening of August 10,fishing is scheduled for 8:30 to 1:00 the next morning from Southport Marina. Lunch, provided by the Lions Club, will follow fishing. This is not an offshore trip, but more of a nearshore or backwater experience and often simply being on the water is extremely therapeutic. However, having some bites and catching fish puts an exclamation point on the experience.
John Cranford of the Winston-Salem Saltwater Fishing Club is heading the local committee and can be reached at 336-312-3458. More information on the event and USSA is available at their website, www.childswish.com.
Military Appreciation Day Scheduled for September 9
MAD 12 will begin when the troops check in and board boats around daylight and concludes with a cookout and picnic for the troops and volunteer boat captains in the late afternoon. MAD events are all-volunteer events and volunteers are needed for MAD 12 in Southport. Volunteers with boats are needed to take the troops fishing and volunteers are also needed for shore side duties ranging from helping with setup and the meal to helping clean the fish that are caught.
Those interested in being a part of MAD 12 can visit the website at www.militaryappreciationday.org for more information and to register as a volunteer. I’ve been volunteering at MAD events for a handful of years now and highly recommend it. It’s a day you won’t forget. I’m pretty sure I have as much or more fun than the troops I take fishing.
Ocearch Hosts Contest with Shark Tagging Adventure as Grand Prize
August 16-17: NC Marine Fisheries Commission, Doubletree by Hilton Raleigh Brownstone-University Hotel, Raleigh, www.ncdmf.net.
Tournaments, Seminars, Boat/Fishing/Outdoor Shows, and Other
August 11: USSA Children's Fishing Day, Southport Marina, Southport, www.childswish.com.
August 12: Wrightsville Beach Inshore Challenge, Wrightsville Beach Marina, Wrightsville Beach, www.fishermanspost.com.
August 12: CCA Youth Fishing Tournament, with the Hook and Bones Redfish Open/Pogies Redfish Series tournament, Old Towne Square, Swansboro, www.ccafishingforthefuture.com.
August 13: Alice Kelly Ladies Only Memorial Billfish Tournament, Pirate's Cove Marina, Manteo, www.pcbgt.com.
August 15-19: Pirate's Cove Billfish Tournament, Governor's Cup Billfishing Conservation Series, Pirate's Cove Marina, Manteo, www.pcbgt.com.
August 18-19: Rotary Club of Sneads Ferry King Mackerel Tournament, New River Marina, Sneads Ferry, www.sneadsferrykmt.com.
August 19: Sheriff Ingram Flatfish Roundup, Southport Marina, Southport, www.sheriffjohningram.com.
August 26: Raleigh Saltwater Fishing Club king Mackerel Tournament, Jaycee Park, Morehead City, www.raleighkmt.org.
August 26: Moe's BBQ Paddle Battle, Moe's BBQ, Wilmington,