Well, a lot has happened since I assembled last week's column--and while most was good, there was also some bad. The most important thing is that Hurricane Earl passed far enough offshore it was pretty close to a non-event except along the Outer Banks. There were some big waves for the surfers, they were all but gone by the time they were needed for the surfing contests at Emerald Isle and Oak Island on Saturday. Even the rain wasn't what was expected and thankfully the lower winds and tidal surge kept sound side flooding down.
The southern to mid N.C. Coast got through pretty much unscathed and it also wasn't as bad along the Outer Banks as had been feared. There was some flooding, mostly from the sound side, but even the Outer Banks were reopened to tourists for the weekend.
One of the casualties to the fishing community was Frisco Pier. The proper name for this pier, located in the community of Frisco, between Cape Hatteras and Hatteras Village, is the Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier, but over several decades it has become known simply as Frisco Pier. Frisco Pier had been shortened by one of the hurricanes of the recent past, but it was still a great place to fish and recorded some great catches. Unfortunately the waves of Hurricane Earl battered it until it collapsed.
I am one of many fishermen who have a fondness for Frisco Pier and I have never stepped foot on it. It was a great place to go surfing on a south swell or often when a huge north swell was closing out at the Lighthouse and the beaches north of Cape Hatteras. Many of the fall nor'easters would push up a big swell that wrapped around the point at the cape. When the swell was big enough to do this, those fall north and northeast winds would stand the waves up and let you make sections you shouldn't have.
I caught this one time over 30 years ago that the surf at Frisco Pier was primo. That day was the best waves I have ever surfed on the East Coast. It was double overhead, with standup tubes that peeled left like a point break. It looked like Ala Moana in Hawaii. Former US Surfing Champ Jon Jones was out with me that day and we still talk about it whenever the subject of great waves comes up.
Frisco Pier also held bait and plenty of forage fish. It wasn't a secret why they caught big kings there. They came to sample the buffet table of pogies, bluefish, Spanish, whiting and gray trout that was always set. Many times I would run out Hatteras Inlet, head up the beach to Frisco Pier to catch bait in the second slough and then start fishing immediately. I haven't caught one of those 50 and 60 pound kings they occasionally caught from the pier, but I caught a lot of 30s and 40s between Frisco Pier and the hook at Cape Hatteras.
We've made it through Labor Day Weekend, which is one of the indicators of the end of summer. The crowds at the beach will drop dramatically and the percentage that are fishermen will increase; especially so for a few tournament weekends. One good thing about the smaller crowds is less traffic and less congestion at launching ramps.
Hurricane Earl passed quickly last week and conditions were trying to return to normal by Friday in most places. After a hot and humid day on Friday, the cool front that held Hurricane Earl offshore slid in over the area and cooled the temperatures into the mid 80s and brought plenty of sunshine for a great Labor Day Weekend. It won't officially be fall for a couple more weeks, but this weather makes us want it to come quicker. Those mornings in the 60s, with crisp clear air are special.
Last week I mentioned the yellow butterflies and mullet minnows were starting and they go going well this week. I had several fishermen tell me how many of both they had seen. One day I certainly saw thousands of yellow butterflies and they came across the sound in waves. I know this is an old adage, but lets all hope it is right again. The water temperature is still in the low 80s, but many of the fall things are beginning to happen.
I hadn't gotten a report of a pier king while I was assembling this, but there have been numerous reports of nice Spanish macks, puppy drum, specks and flounder caught from the piers. All of them are moving closer to the surf too and are feeding on those mullet minnows moving down the beach.
The flounder bite only slowed a day or two while we weren't fishing. They are biting from the creeks out to the nearshore artificial reefs. Most are being caught on live mullet minnows, but they are aggressive and a few fishermen are reporting catching them on artificials. Some of the ones mentioned more often are spinnerbaits, spoons and grubs, which are usually intended for puppy drum.
Puppy drum have been biting well also. Fishermen from the back of many creeks and bays out to the piers are catching nice pups. Pups are rarely bashful about feeding, so you might find them around almost any shoreline, sandbar, oyster rock or creek mouth. Any of the artificials just mentioned, plus live shrimp of mullet minnows and chunks of cut bait should attract pups.
The New Moon phase was Wednesday night and the higher tides associated with it should allow the pups to move up onto the flats in the marsh to feed on sandfiddlers, minnows and shrimp. By looking carefully you can see them tailing or waking as they feed in the shallow water. It is especially nice to catch a pup you spotted feeding and stalked successfully and got to hit your bait or lure. Be careful in the grass; the edges are sharp and can cut lines. If you wade, long pants are a must.
The big drum bite in the lower Neuse River and Pamlico Sound was only interrupted for a day or two and is already going well again. These fish run from 40 to 55 inches and it is a great opportunity to catch and release a citation red drum. Most of the guides say they are getting a half dozen or more strikes per night. Down East Guide Service, www.pamlicoguide.com, books for several guides and should be able to find a trip that fits your schedule.
King fishing remains rather hit or miss. There are a few dolphin and an occasional sailfish, but it hasn't been consistent. Several experienced kingfishermen said what we need is a good steady rain to flush bait out of the river. They said once the bait is in the ocean, the kings will find it and the bite will improve. Some cooler water wouldn't hurt either.
If you are ready to do some hunting, the seasons for resident Canada geese, dove and marsh hen seasons opened last Saturday (Sept. 4) and the bow and arrow deer season opens this Saturday (Sept. 11). Remember H.I.P. certification is needed for hunting all migratory birds, including doves, and waterfowl stamps are required for hunting ducks and geese. There are new regulations for the 2010-2011 hunting seasons. The new regulations digest can be found at license agents or on-line at the Wildlife Resources Commission website, www.ncwildlife.org.
A series of public hearings to receive hunter input on recommended game law changes, deletions and additions for the 2011-2012 seasons have been scheduled across N.C. beginning next week. A list of these suggested regulations and their justifications is available on-line at the Wildlife Resources Commission website, www.ncwildlife.org. A list of other meetings is also available at the Commission website as is a link for those wanting to comment, but are unable to attend one of the meetings.
Hunters and recreational shooters survived an attempt at regulating guns through ammunition last week when the Environmental Protection Agency ruled it did not have, nor desire, the authority to regulate lead in hunting ammunition. However, the EPA is considering ruling on regulation the use of lead in lures and sinkers. The original petition to ban lead can be viewed at www.regulations.com and comments can be registered at the EPA Comments page at the same website. Public input must be received by Sept. 15.
The time for public comment regarding the red snapper fishing closure and bottom closure in Amendment 17A to the South Atlantic Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan is growing short. Electronic copies of Amendment 17A may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Service web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov, the e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov docket number NOAA-NMFS-2010-0035, or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Web site at www.safmc.net.
Written comments on Amendment 17A must be received no later than September 27, 2010, in order to be considered by NOAA Fisheries Service. They should be sent to: NOAA Fisheries Service--Southeast Regional Office--Sustainable Fisheries Division--263 13th Avenue South--St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505--Attn; Kate Michie.
Electronic submissions must be sent to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov using the following docket ID in the search box: NOAA-NMFS-2010-0035. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. This is public record and may be posted along with any personal information included with the submission.
The MFC Southeast Regional Advisory Committee will meet at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, Sept 14 and the NCDENR Regional Field Office in Wilmington and the MFC Central Regional Advisory Committee will meet at 6:00 P.M. on Monday, Sept. 20, at the NCDENR Regional Field Office in Washington. The Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan will be discussed and there will be a public comment period. For more information on this and other MFC meetings visit www.ncdmf.net or call 1-800-682-2632.
The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) will meet in Charleston September 13 to 17. I do not have an agenda for the meeting yet, but there will be times for public comments. For more information visit the SAFMC website at www.safmc.net.
Military Appreciation Day (MAD) 5.5 at Oak Island is this Saturday, September 11. This is a day to take any and all active duty servicemen and women fishing and is a slightly smaller version of the same event held in early June at Morehead City. Boats are needed to carry the military participants fishing, plus volunteers to prepare and serve food. For more information visit www.militaryappreciationday.org.
There were no tournaments on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries schedule for Labor Day Weekend. Because of the addition of three tournaments that were postponed from August 27, 28 and 29, this weekend, Sept 10, 11 and 12, has become a very busy weekend.
The Bay Creek Classic Flounder Tournament is a special event that will be held Saturday, Sept. 11, in Southport. This tournament will benefit Southport outdoorsman Brandon Matthews, who suffered severe paralysis after falling from a tree stand several years ago. Proceeds from the tournament will be used to assist Matthews have a much needed surgery to regain some use of his hands. For more information visit www.baycreekclassic.com.
The Brunswick Islands Saltwater Classic includes a king mackerel tournament and a redfish tournament to be held from South Harbor Village Marina on September 11. These tournaments will benefit the N.C. Public Access Foundation (www.ncpaf.com) with donated last years proceeds to the Town of Oak Island to help pay for Oak Island Pier and to improve the municipal launching ramps. For more information visit www.bluewaterpromo.com.
The first Cobb's Corner Classic King Mackerel Tournament will be held Saturday, September 11, in Carolina Beach. This tournament will benefit the Venice, Louisiana Charter Fishermen who have been out of work during the oil leak crisis and will accept weigh-in receipts from the Brunswick Islands Saltwater Classic to allow fishermen to participate in both tournaments. For more information call Ty Cobb at 910-512-1423.
The Onslow Bay Saltwater Fishing Club will host an "Artificial Lures Only" King Mackerel Tournament from Caspers Marina in Swansboro on Sept. 11. For more information visit www.captainstanman.us/forums.
The Teach's Cove Kayak Fishing Tournament will be held Sept. 11 in Oriental. For more information visit http://web.me.com/ebwjrw/tctournament.com/Welcome.html.
The Kings of the Coast Pier King Mackerel Tournament will be held Sept. 10 through 12 at Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island. This is the tournament usually held in early October, but was moved earlier this year. For more information visit www.oceancrestpier.net.
The Masonboro District Boy Scouts will host a flounder tournament on Sept. 11 from the Bridgetender Marina in Wrightsville Beach. For more information call 910-395-1100 Ext 21.
While the Bogue Inlet Pier King Mackerel Tournament is not until October 4 through 8, the entry deadline for the drawing for pier positions for the tournament is this Saturday, September 11. More information is available at www.bogueinletpier.com or by calling 252-354-2919.
The Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament will begin about the time next week's report is posted, so I wanted to mention it now. The Captains Meeting and Final Registration will be at Atlantic Station on Thursday, September 16, with fishing on Friday and Saturday. In past years this has been the largest king mackerel tournament in the state and offers prizes for kings and several other species. For more information visit www.bluewaterpromo.com.