Whenever I hear a forecast that includes the sentence, "Winds increasing during the afternoon to near 10 knots," it really makes me smile. Of course, with the oppressive heat forecast for this weekend, the wind can't be forecast to blow but so hard. If the wind is blowing, it should be a little cooler.
After the past two weekends, especially last weekend, this forecast is very welcome. The heat will be high enough we should be carrying extra water and sunscreen, but it will be nice to have a weekend without excessive wind. I sure hope the weather forecasts are right about the wind and miss the temperatures.
Thankfully, the inshore bite has been pretty good and given us plenty to do while the wind was blowing. The big three of puppy drum, specks and flounder are biting well enough to keep most fishermen smiling, but add in the excellent sheepshead fishing and ladyfish under the lights at night and there has been fishing to be done--darn the wind.
The puppy drum have been the most consistent and are being caught from underslot to overslot size. This is good news as it means fish are making it to reproducing size and age and are keeping the species going. I was fishing at Topsail at mid-week and we found a school of 8 to 10 inch rat reds in one of the bays. They were aggressive too. One jumped my topwater lure that was about half as big as he was.
There were several good flounder reports this week. With the wind, more fishermen were looking for them. Some of the best reports, especially for larger flounder, continue to come from along the walls at the state port. Around the sandbars at most inlets, in the mouths of the larger creeks and around the nearshore reefs are also good spots to look for flounder.
The heat has slowed the specks the most of all the inshore fish, but they are around and can be caught. Most fishermen find a live shrimp suspended under a popping cork to be especially effective for summer specks, but they will also hit lures. While coming off of a flat between two oyster bars on Tuesday, I noticed a little current eddy trailing back from a boat lift beside a dock. Several casts later, the same topwater lure I had been using for pups was attacked by a nice speck that surged out from under the dock. The key was some slightly deeper water and the current break of the pilings. Being there early in the morning probably helped some too.
Sheepshead fishing has been excellent. The best locations have been bridges and older docks that reach to deeper water. Fiddler crabs are excellent baits and a deft touch will increase the catch.
The full moon confused them some, but there are tarpon and old drum in Pamlico Sound. The drum like the full moon for coming out of the deeper areas and feeding around the shoals, points and islands. The tarpon often go off their feed during the full moon or become mainly nocturnal. The full moon has passed and it is winding down again, so the tarpon bite should begin to pick up a little.
Some of the larger boat headed offshore during the past week and returned with dolphins and kings. One of the popular spots during the weekend king tournaments was 1700 Rock. Fishermen reported good numbers of sailfish bites in water from 10 miles or so off the beach and out. Those boats that went all the way to the Gulf Stream also found the marlins, especially white marlin, biting well.
Larger Spanish mackerel have been biting well from Beaufort Inlet to AR 315 and 320. Most are nice fish and fishermen using live baits have been catching citation size Spanish (6 pounds and up).
With the seas stirring up the nearshore ocean bottom the pier fishing has been off, but it has rebounded a little in the past few days. Bottom dwellers have been the main catch, but a king mackerel was decked at Bogue Inlet Pier. The water temperature at Bogue Inlet Pier has dipped back into the upper 70s.
The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) Show, which is the world's largest sportfishing tradeshow, was held July 15-17, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Over 7,200 representatives from the sportfishing industry, including over 2,200 buyers, gathered to see the latest innovations in tackle, gear and apparel for the sportfishing community. The ICAST show is produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the industry's trade association which is headquartered in Alexandria, Va.
In spite of a less than favorable economy, many long-time industry moguls proclaimed the New Product Showcase, which is the flagship event of the 52 year old show, as more competitive than ever. Sponsored by ESPN Outdoors/BASS, 208 exhibiting companies entered 600 tackle products and accessories into the New Product Showcase. These products, and many more, will soon be available in your favorite local tackle shop.
Buyers and media representatives judged the products based on their levels of innovation, execution, workmanship and practicality to select "Best of Show" honors in 17 categories, as well as the overall "Best of Show" winner.
The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler, which you may recall I tested several weeks prior to the show, was chosen as the Overall Best of Show. This is the first time a boat has won this honor. Apparently I was correct to have been so impressed.
The individual category winners included:
Apparel - Cablz, Inc. - Cablz
If anyone wants to be the first to see the 2010 offerings from the fishing industry, the 2010 ICAST will be held July 14-16, 2010 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The ICAST show is a hot ticket item, so it would be wise to inquire about travel arrangements soon.
The MFC Central Regional Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on possible changes in the flounder fishery at 6:00 P.M. on August 12 at the DENR Washington Regional Office, 943 Washington Square Mall in Washington. The public and their input is welcome at these meetings. Similar meeting of other advisory committees will be held at other times and at different locations across the state. A complete list of Marine Fisheries Commission Advisory Committee meetings has been posted at the Division of Marine Fisheries website at www.ncdmf.net.
The comment period for Amendment 15B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery in South Atlantic Waters ended on Monday. It will be interesting to see how the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) acts on this. The fishery bulletin and their decision will be posted at www.safmc.net. I still haven't received a bill number, but there is a report that Congressman John Mica of Florida will be presenting a bill requiring the Secretary of Commerce to conduct an updated red snapper fishery assessment and to prohibit any moratorium until after the Secretary submits to Congress a report demonstrating a need for such a ban.
While the Fishing Rights Alliance has a suit challenging the action pending in Federal District Court in Jacksonville, Fla., Amendment 16 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery in South Atlantic Waters became effective July 29. It includes winter closures on grouper and beeliners, reduced bag limits, a commercial quota for gag grouper and dehooker requirements for all offshore bottom fishermen. For all the details of Amendment 16, visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov.
The Raleigh Saltwater Sportfishing Club King Mackerel Tournament was held July 31 through August 2 in Atlantic Beach. This tournament is the second of five tournaments in the Southern Kingfish Association Division 1. The conditions were not particularly enticing and the forecast was for worse conditions than the fishermen actually encountered. The number of entries was down, but a few really nice fish were brought to the scales.
Even in the rough conditions, D. Logan, Wilmington, and the crew of Logan's run found a 52.92 pounder to blow the field away. Stan Jarusinski, Swansboro, and the crew of the Mister Stanman boated a 36.96 pounder late in the day to day to earn second place. The father and son team of and Bret and Allen Barnes on the Hot Rod made the trip from Wilmington and collected third place with a 29.82 pound king.
Lauren Morris earned Top Lady Angler honors with a 27.88 pound king she caught on the Sea Drag'N. The Sea Drag'N king was also good for fourth place. The Top Junior Angler honors went to Cameron Bradford, whose 27.50 pounder was also heavy enough to earn fifth place for the Searching 2.
The Ducks Unlimited "Band the Billfish" Tournament was held July 31 through August 2 in Morehead City. Unfortunately, the participation was down for it also. The boats that fished the tournament found the billfish hungry and the bite was impressive. I didn't receive the final catch numbers, but the 46 boats released 45 billfish the first day. This number included 36 sailfish, 7 white marlin and 2 blue marlin.
I was only able to get bits and pieces of the results, but this tournament had a red hot bite in spite of the sloppy conditions. The tournament winner, Stream Weaver, with Capt. Mike King of Wrightsville Beach, was in third place on Friday after releasing 3 sailfish and a white marlin. The Barbara B, with Capt. Gray Blount of Atlantic Beach, held second place on Friday with 4 sailfish releases and retained the position for the tournament. The leader at the end of Friday's fishing was the Chain Link, with Capt. Ralph Griffin of Morehead City, who tallied a blue marlin and 2 sailfish releases, but fell from the top three on Saturday. This was the sixth of seven tournaments in the 2009 N.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series. The full results should be posted soon at the tournament's website, www.bandthebillfish.com.
The Oak Island Parks & Recreation hosted the Oak Island Open Youth Tournament on Saturday, August 1 at Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island. A total of 48 kids participated in the tournament that featured four species categories and five age group divisions. Category 1 included pinfish, croaker and spot. Category 2 included whiting and pompano. Category 3 included bluefish and spadefish. Category 4 included trout, flounder, sheepshead and drum. While Saturday morning was the calmest day on the ocean in a while, southwest winds had been stirring up the nearshore water for about a week and the fishing was slow. There were no Category 4 fish caught.
In Category 1, the winners were: Under 5, Triston Lemons; 6-8, Elliott
Register; 9-11, Tyler Wells and 15-18, Coltan Carter.
Capt. Jimmy Price held the Second Annual Mity Might Tournament On August 1 in Southport. Last year this tournament was open to any species, but this year's event was for pinfish only. The proceeds from the tournament were given to the Brunswick County Health Department to purchase Christmas presents for needing children throughout the county. Price said there were a total of 40 entries (30 paid and 10 kids under 10 years old who fished free). With the proceeds from the tournament and most of the prize money donated back by the winners, the tournament raised $1,520.
Dwayne Goins won the tournament and the $300 top prize with a pinfish that weighed .38 pounds. Immediately behind was Luke Keller, whose pinfish weighed .36 pounds. Lauren Yandle finished in third place with a pinfish that weighed .30 pounds. Each of these winners donated $100 of their prize money back to the tournament. A special $25 prize was awarded to the smallest pinfish weighed during the event. It went to John Davis for a .08 pound pinfish and Davis donated it back to the tournament.
The Crystal Coast Fishing Association will hold the first tournament of their 2009 Redfish Series this weekend in Swansboro. The Captains Meeting and Final Registration is Friday afternoon, with fishing and awards on Saturday. For more information visit www.crystalcoastfishing.net or call 910-340-2651.
The Alice Kelly Ladies Only Billfish Tournament will be held this weekend in Manteo. This event is produced by the Outer Banks Cancer Support Group and is a fundraiser for cancer research in honor of Alice Kelly. For more information visit www.pcbiggame.com or call 252-473-1015.
I'm still running into people who don't know, so I'll mention it again. Unfortunately the Long Bay Lady Anglers King Mackerel Tournament, which was scheduled for this weekend has been canceled. The word I received was the decision was based on the economy and there are plans to bring the tournament back as soon as the economy shows some improvement. Maybe next year?
The Pirate's Cove Billfish Tournament will be held next week in Manteo. This is the final of seven events in the 2009 N.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series. For more information visit www.pcbiggame.com or call 252-473-1015.