Wow, it sure has rained a lot during the past week for us to be this far from Hurricane Isaac. While there was some flooding and you always hate to hear about that, the groundwater supplies are recovering from the drought stage and the weather cooled off. Unless you are one of the people who were affected by the flooding, you should be pretty pleased. We got a break over last weekend to have a nice day and a half and it looks that that might be several days this weekend.
While it is human nature to be glad when you escape something bad, there was an excellent comment about hurricanes on the Internet this week. I donít remember this exactly or who said it, so I will have to paraphrase it, but Iím sure everyone will understand. The comment was - While you are glad the storm will be missing you, donít be too happy when a storm shifts course because when the cone shifts away from you, it shifts onto someone else.
Speaking of the storms and the Internet - I have found a new FaceBook page I really like for tropical weather and hurricane information. It is Mikeís Weather Page and it is an offshoot of the www.spaghettimodels.com website. Mike gives a lot of good information and it is condensed and updated regularly. There is much more information at the Spaghetti Models website for those who want it.
The rain and cooler weather last week have combined to flip the switch to fall. In a nutshell, the water temperature dropped three to five degrees and it triggered the mass exodus of mullet minnows heading down the beach. I donít know exactly when it started, but one afternoon earlier this week the stream of bait just beyond the breakers appeared endless. The cooler water and moving bait will excite the fish and what has been a good year is just about to get better.
This is Labor Day Weekend and it will be the last huge crowd of the season. Please understand there will be crowds and lines at the boat ramps and allow time accordingly. Remember to have everything moved into your boat before pulling onto the ramp and be prepared to launch or retrieve and pull out of the way. There will also be lines at the restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations.
Even with the influx of so much fresh water, fishing remains surprisingly good. On the inshore side, flounder and puppy drum primarily feed on the bottom and much of the fresh water is washing over them. Several fishermen suggested that with the changing conditions, live baits would be better as they would tempt the flounder and pups to bite on their own. Donít give up on artificials though. There are other fishermen who said they are catching on everything from topwater lures to soft plastics slowly dragged across the bottom.
The cooling water triggered a puppy drum bite that was already good into getting better. One of my friends who was visiting over the weekend and said it took two casts for him and his wife to catch their limit of pups Sunday evening and only one more on Monday morning. He said they had some live shrimp, but decided they would try some dead ones first and must have cast perfectly. It took more time to get the fish in than to bait the hooks, cast and wait for the strike. He said they enjoyed some catch and release fishing after that and also caught a few flounder.
The cooler water fired trout up in a few places too. Several fishermen reported they were catching trout on topwaters well back in creeks without much rainwater runoff, but that when the water began developing the reddish tint showing lots of fresh water mixed with it, the trout bite slowed and went deep. Most of the trout have been smaller summer trout but there are some nice ones in the catch also.
Speckled trout will hit artificials, but many fishermen say live bait is the way to go until the water cools more. Last week I mentioned the MirrOlure MR 17 and MR 14 suspending lures and this week I received several e-mails from fishermen that tried the MR 17 and were successful. The color both liked was the EC. Fish these lures slow and let them drift with the current, just occasionally twitching them.
Pier fishermen are catching a mixed bag of fish. Itís time for king mackerel to move inshore and fire up the pier end fishermen, but it hasnít happened yet. A few more tarpon and one king were caught from the piers at Topsail late last week, so they appear to be slowly working their way in. Pier fishermen working baits on the bottom and lures are catching a mixture of fish including flounder, black drum, red drum, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and trout. The flow of bait out the inlets and along the beach should bring some fish to the inshore sections of the pier.
Spanish mackerel fishing remains good and should get even better as they move to just outside the breakers to feast on the mullet minnows running down the beach. Some bluefish have already found the line of minnows and flounder should be moving under them in a week or so.
As discussed last week, Spanish mackerel usually hit small spoons well. The trolling speed is pretty quick at five to eight knots. A tip to remember is that Spanish feed faster than bluefish, so if you are catching bluefish and are after Spanish, you probably should speed up a little. Larger Spanish often respond better to live baits and when the mullet minnows are busting down the beach, just cast net a bunch and go fishing.
There were mixed reports on king mackerel this week and that isnít exactly good news. Kings had been slowly moving toward the beaches, but have slowed with all the rainwater runoff coming out the inlets. My thought is that just might stack them up at some of the rocks and ledges just a little farther offshore. Some dolphin and an occasional sailfish are still feeding with the kings and can be a pleasant surprise.
Offshore bottom fishing continues to be the most consistent fishing going. However, if you want to catch any more black sea bass this year, you had better get to it. NOAA Fisheries announced last Friday that the black sea bass season would close at 12:01 A.M. on September 4. The fishery biologists at NOAA Fisheries have estimated the 2012 Ė 2013 recreational quota of 409,000 pounds will have been caught by then. This allows through midnight on Labor Day to catch them. The black sea bass season will not reopen until June 1, 2013.
There are some black sea bass and grunts in shallower water, but the best action has been in water 90 to 115 feet deep. Gag and red grouper are also biting well, plus a few scamp grouper. Beeliners, triggerfish, grunts, porgys and hog snapper are also in the bottom fish mix.
On August 28 NOAA Fisheries published an emergency rule in the Federal Register on behalf of the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council to temporarily open red snapper fishing. The filing lists two three day weekends (Sept. 14-16 and Sept. 21-23) for recreational fishing and the week of Sept. 17-23 for commercial fishing. The recreational limit is a single fish per day and the commercial trip limit is 50 pounds per day.
The US Appeals Court rejected the request by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) to prevent E-15 gas from being introduced at gas pumps nationwide. The decision was split 2-1, so there is the opportunity to continue the case to the Supreme Court. The issue with E-15 gas is that most small engines (outboard motors, lawn mowers, weed trimmers, generators and such) cannot handle the 15 percent concentration of ethanol. In fact, only cars and trucks made after 2001 can handle it and some of those have issues.
Pumps dispersing ethanol products are required to have stickers on the pump denoting the concentration of ethanol in the gas. These would be E-10, E-15 or E-85. Small engines really run better on ethanol free gas and, while it is usually a little more expensive, it is available at several gas stations in the area and at most marinas. If you have any doubt, ask before you pump. Several local marine and small engine mechanics said a high percentage of their repairs are caused or related to issues created by ethanol gasoline.
The N.C. Legislature is soliciting ideas from the public regarding merging the Wildlife Resources Commission and the Division of Marine Fisheries into a single unit to provide more efficient, productive and enjoyable uses of the state's fisheries resources. Adding Marine Fisheries to the responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture is also being considered.
The agencies have accepted comments at earlier meetings and will continue with a time for comments at tonightís, August 29, WRC Committee Meetings at the Wildlife Resources Commission Headquarters Conference Room at N.C. State University in Raleigh. Additionally, the agencies will hold two joint meetings in coastal areas for the sole purpose of taking comments on this issue. Those meetings are scheduled for:
* September 5 at 6:00 P.M. at the Craven County Cooperative Extension Office in New Bern and
* September 6 at 6:00 P.M. at the Dare County Administration Building in Manteo.
The public may comment in writing online at http://www.ncsenatebill821.org/default.htm or by mail to S821 Comments, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1701. The deadline for receiving written comments is September 7. For more information contact Chris Dillon at 919-707-0011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) will meet from September 10-14 at the Charleston Marriott Hotel in Charleston, S.C. Meeting details and an agenda are posted on the SAFMC website at www.safmc.net.
I will be speaking at a couple of seminars about Marine Electronics for Kayaks that will be held at West Marine stores. The next will be in Wrightsville Beach on Saturday, Sept. 8 and then in Morehead City on Saturday, Sept. 22 and Murrells Inlet, S.C. on Sept. 29. The seminars will include information on fishfinders, GPS units and rigging them, with special attention given to lightweight batteries and optimum and convenient transducer placement. For more information, call the West Marine stores in the town you are interested in attending.
Labor Day weekend has arrived and there are two tournaments, both in Southport.
The Brunswick Islands King Classic will be held Saturday, September 1, from South Harbor Village Marina. This is the third of five tournaments in the Southern Kingfish Association Division 9, which covers southern N.C. and northern S.C. and the points race is tight. Final registration is Friday with fishing on Saturday. For more information visit www.bluewaterpromo.com.
The Bay Creek Classic is a flounder tournament and will be held Saturday, September 1 from the Wildlife Ramp in Southport. The tournament features prizes for the largest flounder, an aggregate of five flounder, the largest flounder by a junior angler, plus special prizes for the largest live speckled trout and toadfish. All proceeds and any contributions will be donated to the Brandon Matthews Fund Ė an ongoing trust to fund surgeries, treatment, and specialized items to improve the mobility of Brandon, who fell six years ago while working on a tree stand and remains paralyzed from his chest down. For more information visit www.baycreekclassic.com.
Good Fishing and have a safe and happy Labor