I thought the rains had passed for a while, but it was a futile hope. It isnít forecast to be the monsoons from last weekend, but the weather folks saw another weekend coming and had to increase the chance of rain and thunderstorms. You might want to pack your SCUBA gear if you plan to head out in a smaller boat. Light rains seem to morph into downpours pretty easily this summer.
This is a shame too as the marine forecast is for winds of less than 10 knots and 2 to 3 foot seas most of the weekend. If it wasnít for the lightning that has been accompanying the rain, Iíd say put on your slickers or accept youíll probably get wet and go. However, I donít care for lightning and it has been pretty bad this year. It has been deemed responsible for a few house fires and definitely struck a boat during the Big Rock Tournament.
I want to give a plug to Mikeís Weather Page, which has a Facebook page and a website. In past years, Mike has been really good at spotting things in the weather that have dangerous potential and he is back at it again this year. He pegged Hurricane Arthur a few days before the National Hurricane Center and more than a week ago he had concerns the tropical wave rolling off Africa would develop into Tropical Storm or Hurricane Bertha.
Do yourself a favor and check out Mikeís Facebook page and website. His Facebook page is simply Mikeís Weather Page and you should go ahead and ďlikeĒ it so you get his postings instead of having to remember to check for them. His website is www.spaghettimodels.com and it has an abundance of all kinds of weather information. Take a while to explore the website and youíll probably save it in your favorites. I have it on my toolbar.
Even though the weather cleared for a few days since last weekend, I didnít receive a bunch of fishing reports this week. What I heard and found was surprisingly good considering all the wind and rain.
Flounder are biting and there are some citation size (5 pounds) fish in the mix. They are spread from the creeks to the nearshore rocks and artificial reefs. Jigging bucktails and soft plastics or soaking live baits on Carolina rigs has been the ticket for the ocean flounder. Inside the inlets, flounder prefer live minnows, but will hit drifted strip baits pretty well also. Flounder will also hit a few lures, especially soft plastics and weedless inshore spoons.
Red drum are biting too. They are primarily inshore, with fish from underslot to overslot size. Drum are holding around creek mouths and oyster rocks or sand bars that disrupt current and seem to be more prevalent on the falling tide. In the warm water they prefer live shrimp and minnows for bait, but will also hit lures, especially scented soft plastics or those with scent added. The pups are also hitting topwater lures for a while early in the morning and sometimes again late in the day.
The full moon is Sunday and the afternoon high tides are projected to begin being above normal a few days before that. Red drum love to push into the flooded marsh on higher tides and this should be a good weekend for them unless the wind blows harder than the forecast or the rain is really heavy. When drum are in the flooded marsh they are actively feeding and will usually hit most baits or lures they see. Weedless spoons and soft plastics rigged weedless are the easiest lures to work through the flooded grass.
There are some large red drum and wandering pods of tarpon in the lower Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. They feed on many of the same things and close to the same places, so occasionally both are caught on the same trip. The drum are hitting jigs and soft baits fished under popping corks and chunks of cut bait fished on the bottom.
Regulations require using circle hooks on short leaders when fishing between 7:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. in Pamlico Sound. The local version of this rig is called the Owen Lupton rig, after the fisherman who designed it. It uses a 10/0 circle hook on a 3 to 6 inch leader with a sinker crimped in place so the sinker canít slide. The regulations and a picture are on the NCDMF website at www.ncdmf.com. This rig works well during the daytime and for tarpon also.
Something is happening with king mackerel along the beach. They are biting at the piers. The largest I have heard of is the 42 pounder 13 year old TJ Farrington caught at Oak Island Pier. There have been king catches reported on the piers from Nags Head to Oak Island. There was a question on how the runoff from all this rain would affect the kings, but they have continued to bite so far. Pier fishermen also caught Spanish macks, flounder, sea mullet, pompano, trout and more.
Spanish mackerel and shark fishing was picking up just off the beaches and some kings were being caught in the Beaufort Inlet Ship Channel between the inlet and the sea buoy last week before the nasty weather rolled in. That has slowed a little and the dirty water may have pushed the kings off the beach a little, but the action hasnít stopped. Most of the sharks have been blacktips, which run hard and usually jump a time or two and that makes them lots of fun to catch. Blacktips are also one of the best tasting of the inshore sharks.
If you are thinking about keeping a shark to eat, read the regulations at www.ncdmf.net first and pay attention. Sharks are protected in various ways, with some not allowed to be kept and different minimum sizes for others.
Other than those few kings around the inlet and piers, the better king fishing has been around structure in 60 to 80 feet of water. Unfortunately, it hasnít been what could be considered hot. Fishermen have been picking at them and sometimes finding limits. The good news has been some scattered dolphin mixed with them and several fishermen were surprised with the wild jumps of sailfish.
Iíve said it several weeks now, but it holds true again that the most consistent ocean fishing is offshore bottom fishing. Red snapper season is closed, so donít keep one of them, but grouper, beeliners, grunts, porgies, black sea bass and triggerfish are being caught regularly. Thatís a lot of good eating.
There are some pods of mainly smaller dolphin and a slowly growing number of wahoo at the Gulf Stream. This is good news as the wahoo numbers appear to be a little ahead of most years at this time and should continue increasing into the fall. A few scattered sailfish and white marlin are being reported along the central and southern N.C. coast and the white marlin bite is good and getting better off Oregon Inlet.
MAD 9 Southport
The southern N.C. version of Military Appreciation Day will be held from Southport Marina in Southport on Saturday, September 20. Like the Military Appreciation Day event that was held in Morehead City in late May, this is a project of the Military Appreciation Day organization (www.militaryappreciationday.org) based in Charlotte. It is simply a day of saying thank you by taking members of the active duty military fishing.
While members of the Military Appreciation Day Ė Southport Chapter schedule and coordinate the day, MAD 9 Southport will be the effort of a large team of volunteers from across N.C. Volunteers with boats are needed to take the troops fishing, but many volunteers are also needed to help with the shore side duties. Shore side volunteers could do anything from helping with setup, registration and cleanup to helping prepare and serve the meal or even helping clean the fish that are caught.
I highly recommend being a part of the MAD events if your circumstances allow it. I have made some good friends of the troops attending and MAD volunteers and the experience is priceless. Iím pretty sure I have as much or more fun than the troops I take fishing. Those interested in being a part of MAD 9 can visit the website at www.militaryappreciationday.org for more information and to register as a volunteer.
Several N.C. fishing teams went to Georgetown, S.C. on Saturday, August 2, for the fourth event in the 2014 Lowcountry Redfish Cup. They fished in a soaking rain most of the day, but many of the fishermen had good catches. South Carolina has a 15 to 23 inch slot, so the weights donít compare equally with the larger slot fish in N.C. Capt. Rennie Clark and his wife Shannon of Tournament Trail Charters in Carolina Beach were the highest placing of the N.C. teams and finished in second place with 8.06 pounds that included the third largest individual fish of the tournament at 4.37 pounds. For more information visit www.lowcountryredfishcup.com.
Aug. 20-22: Marine Fisheries Commission, DoubleTree by Hilton Brownstone Raleigh-University, Agenda available at www.ncdmf.net, For more information contact Nancy Fish at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.
Tournaments, Seminars, Club Meetings and Events
July 1 to August 31: Chasiní Tails Sheepshead Challenge, Chasiní Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.
July 1 to September 30: Chasiní Tails Flounder and Spanish Mackerel Challenge, Chasiní Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.
August 9: Onslow Bay Open King Mackerel Tournament, King mackerel, Swansboro, www.obokmt.us.
August 9: Carolina Redfish Series, red drum, Swansboro Waterfront, Swansboro, www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.
August 10: Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament, Billfish and offshore gamefish, Pirateís Cove Marina, Manteo, www.ifishpiratescove.com.
August 12 to 15: Pirateís Cove Billfish Tournament, N.C. Governorís Cup Billfishing Conservation Series, Billfish and offshore gamefish, Pirateís Cove Marina, Manteo, www.ifishpiratescove.com.
August 16: Sneads Ferry Rotary Club King Mackerel Tournament, King mackerel, New River Marina, Sneads Ferry, www.sneadsferryknt.com.