The weather was certainly a big part of our fishing over the last week. In fact, the waves from Hurricane Bill kept fishermen out of the ocean for most of the weekend. Thankfully the big storm stayed offshore. Unfortunately there were two deaths. A swimmer drowned from exhaustion in Florida and a young girl didn't survive when a group of people was swept off a Maine cliff by overwash while watching the huge waves crash into the rocks. Once again we were reminded of the power of these storms even when they are long distances away.
Our sea conditions settled out pretty quickly after Hurricane Bill's passing and appeared to be getting back to normal. Unfortunately we are looking at some rain and ocean swells as the system which became Tropical Storm Danny at mid-day on Wednesday is expected to pass offshore during the afternoon and evening today (Friday). The current forecast isn't for excessive winds along the N.C. coast, but the system should send some waves for the surfers to enjoy. Cowabunga dude!
The kings, dolphin and amberjack had been biting well before last weekend's swell arrived and should be picking back up again, but there haven't been many reports. The kings had been from just off the beaches out to the 1edges of the Gulf Stream. The others began about 10 to 15 miles off and headed offshore. There were also a few sailfish mixed in this area and the sailfish bite improved moving offshore. This should be going strong again by the time this is delivered or hits the newsstands.
Farther offshore the action has been good for wahoo, dolphin, sailfish and white marlin. There is a little activity farther south, but the best opportunities begin south of the Big Rock and get better moving to the north. There was a hot sailfish bite at mid-week from Hatteras and Oregon Inlet.
The best pier action this week was flounder. It was pretty rough at the piers from Friday through Sunday, but they are settling out again and hopefully won't be too bothered by the waves this weekend. The water has been clearing and the Spanish are returning. Maybe some kings will also move in with them. There sure are enough pods of pogies moving up and down the beach to attract them.
Speaking of flounder fishing, it didn't seem to suffer much from last weekend's rough ocean. There are flounder being caught in the sounds, creeks and around the inlets. Flounder were also biting strong on many of the nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs before the swell arrived and that action has returned strong.
The puppy drum never stopped biting as the storm passed. They may have slowed a little, but they are still hungry and biting. Around the islands in the sounds and in the creeks are good places to find them. On high tides they will be up in the edges of the marsh and on low tides they will be scouring the mouths of the smaller creeks and oyster bars near them. More and more fishermen are reporting seeing lots of 10-inch reds this summer, which bodes well for the future.
Speckled trout often slow down and stop biting during the hottest weather, but they have been feeding pretty regularly this summer. Sure, they have to shut off and confuse us from time to time, but they can usually be convinced to feed on live shrimp. One of the best ways to locate them is to drift a live shrimp down an oyster bar or along a section of vertical bank. Almost any cork will work for this, but working a popping or rattling cork makes it so much more fun.
A few gray trout have already shown up too--mainly at Morehead City and Ocracoke. A few are being caught on live bait in deep water during the daytime, but the most reliable way to target them is under the lights of the Morehead City high-rise bridges at night. Some specks will also be mixed in with them. This is cooler fishing, but you probably should switch out your sunscreen for some insect repellent.
I have an article on the bad effects of ethanol enriched gas in marine engines in the September North Carolina Sportsman magazine. It has only been out since last Wednesday, but I have already had several calls asking me to highlight it here--so here goes.
Ethanol is an alcohol made from corn that is added to some gasoline to help oxygenate it and reduce emissions. Unfortunately, it has a lot of bad effects, especially in marine engines and fuel systems. Ethanol attracts water, which bonds with it and the bad things begin.
One of the most crippling things with ethanol is that when combined with water it becomes both a corrosive and a solvent. The corrosive part of it degrades metal components in the fuel system and dumps the particles into the fuel. The solvent part begins cleaning old stains and gum deposits in the fuel tank, lines, fuel pumps, carburetors, injectors and dumps this back into the fuel system. There are also numerous instances of the solvent actually breaking down the resins in fiberglass and plastic tanks until the tanks begin leaking. Of course the resins are then added to the fuel also.
Another problem with ethanol fuels is called phase separation. This occurs when the ethanol attracts so much water it becomes heavier than the gasoline and separates to the bottom of the tank. This makes the mixture in the fuel tank a two-level mixture of alcohol with water and gas. The motor then won't run and it would cause damage if it did.
Most marine engines made in the past 10 years are certified to run on ethanol mixtures up to 10 per cent (E-10), but that doesn't always take into effect the problems in the fuel tank and fuel delivery system.
The best way to handle this would be to avoid buying gas with ethanol. Unfortunately, pumps are not required to be labeled unless the ethanol mixture exceeds 10 per cent (E-10). Asking the attendant or cashier is the way to find out. Many marinas are going the extra mile to stock ethanol free gas, but it would be wise to call and verify it in advance.
Two things can be done to help when using gas with ethanol. A 10 micron water separating fuel filter will trap most of the corrosion, sediment and water. However, when used alone, it will require frequent changing. The other thing is to religiously use a fuel treatment.
There are numerous fuel treatments and stabilizers available. Whatever you choose, be sure it is recommended for ethanol fuel. In searching for the best fuel treatment, I was recommended to Sentry Fuel Treatment by Total Fuel Solutions in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rather than adding ethers, octane boosters and such, Sentry Fuel Treatment is a chemical system that microencapsulates the water and isolates it.
I'm not a chemist, but I know what I have seen and done and the results. When the water molecules are microencapsulated, they will not blend with the ethanol and create the solvents. The corrosion is stopped and it doesn't break down the old fuel deposits in the tank or weaken the bonds in fiberglass or plastic resins. The water will also pass through the mesh of the filter and burn in the engine.
Yep, I said water would burn! I thought it was impossible too, but I witnessed adding some Sentry Fuel Treatment to water drawn from a faucet and it mixed and burned--completely. This demo and more information is on their website at www.SentryTreatments.com. Just click on the tab that says "see water burn" and watch. There is also information on how Sentry stops fuel system corrosion that many fuel stabilizers don't.
There are several versions for both gas and diesel. The standard version is for fuel that will be used within a month. Gasoline Plus is recommended for marine use and other situations where gas will be stored longer than a month. There is even one version called Ethanol Rx for extreme situations.
Every marine mechanic I have spoken with in the past year has numerous horror stories regarding ethanol problems in marine engines, especially outboards. I have shown the Sentry Fuel Treatment to several dealers in the area and they said they would be checking on it. I don't know that anyone is stocking it yet, but the folks at Sentry can tell you.
Hopefully some of the local outlets have it in stock by now. If not, you can order it at www.SentryTreatments.com or by calling 1-888-521-6131. It resurrected a lawnmower for me and now I use it in all my boat gas. I would use it in my truck, but gas doesn't stay in it long enough to break down anything or collect water.
The Governor's Cup Billfishing Series wrapped up the year at the Pirate's Cove Billfish Tournament and the year-long points have been tabulated. Some double checking was necessary as it was the closest race in memory and there have been a lot of billfish caught this year. While 51 boats competed in the 2009 series, the billfish point standings are divided into private boats and boats available for charter. The overall win was by a private boat, but only by a mere 25 points over another private boat.
The 51 boats entered in the Governor's Cup Series caught a total of 237 billfish. All but five blue marlin were released for a 97.91 per cent release rate. The catch included 56 blue marlin (51 released), 89 white marlin (all released) and 92 sailfish (all released).
The Stream Weaver, Wrightsville Beach, owned by Rusty Carter and captained by Mike King, was the overall winner with 3,650 points. The Caroline, also of Wrightsville Beach, owned and captained by Watson Caviness, was second overall with 3,625 points.
The battle among the charter boats was between a pair of Morehead City boats and it was almost as tight. The difference there was only 50 points. The Bill Collector, Morehead City, owned and operated by Stephen Draughon, was the top charter boat with 2,450 points. The Chain Link, also of Morehead City, owned by Ben and Wes Seegars and captained by Ralph Griffin, finished as the second place charter boat with 2,400 points.
The Governor's Cup Series also recognizes the largest billfish of the year, top lady and junior anglers and the heaviest tuna, wahoo and dolphin. The largest billfish in the Governor's Cup Series was the 645.5 blue marlin landed by the Sea Striker of Morehead City. The Sea Striker is owned and captained by Adrian Holler.
The Outstanding Lady Angler was Kelli Roof, who fished on the Game On of Charleston, S.C. The Game on is owned by Victor Roof and captained by Dennis Brookshire. Kelli released a blue marlin, two white marlin and a sailfish. The Outstanding Junior Angler was Watson Caviness, Jr, who fished with his dad on the Caroline. Young Caviness released six sailfish and a white marlin.
In the Gamefish Division, The Figment, Morehead City, owned by Mickey Corcoran and captained by Glynn Loftin, caught a 98.25 pound yellowfin to top the Tuna Category. The Frequent Flyer, Morehead City, owned by Gary Joyner and captained by Alan Willis, topped the Wahoo Category with a 69.35 pounder. The Dolphin Category was won by the Miss Judy, Atlantic Beach, owned and captained by Lacy Henry, with a 44.85 pound fish.
The Topsail Offshore Fishing Club King Mackerel Tournament that was scheduled for last weekend was postponed due to the seas from Hurricane Bill. It has been re-scheduled for this weekend and will be held from Soundside Park in Surf City. For more information, visit www.tofc.com or call 910-200-0723.
The Onslow Bay Sport Fishing Club Artificial Bait Only King Mackerel Tournament that was scheduled for this Saturday at Casper's Marina in Swansboro has been postponed until October 17. The board of directors made the decision so they wouldn't be competing with the Topsail King Mackerel Tournament that was postponed until this weekend and the Brunswick Islands Saltwater Classic scheduled at Southport/Oak Island. As the name indicates, only artificial baits will be allowed. For more information call 910-353-2659
The Brunswick Islands Saltwater Classic that was scheduled to be held at South Harbor Village Marina this Friday and Saturday, August 28 and 29 has been postponed a day until August 29 and 30 because of waves from Tropical Storm Danny. This is the third of five tournaments in the Southern Kingfish Association Division 9. The Captains Meeting and Final Registration will be Saturday, with fishing and the Awards Ceremony on Sunday. In addition to the king mackerel tournament, there will be a separate division for Spanish mackerel, cobia, dolphin and wahoo. The proceeds for this tournament will be donated to the N.C. Public Access Foundation. For more information on this tournament, visit www.bluewaterpromo.com or call 1-800-546-4622.