Weather has been key to many fishing reports this summer and is again this week. The forecast for the weekend shows rain and thunderstorms, but doesnít include a lot of wind. Wind is one thing and rain is another, but thunderstorms come with lightning and I donít care for it. Letís hope the seas stay calm and the thunder and lightning part of the thunderstorms doesnít develop.
Earlier this week there were a couple of weather systems rolling off Africa and across the tropics. Friday morning there are three and one of them has strengthened to become Tropical storm Edouard. The National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov) and Mikeís Weather Page (www.spaghettimaps.com) are tracking these systems and one is working across south Florida as a strong low and they expect TS Edouard to make a turn out into the open Atlantic on the far side of Bermuda and not be a threat to the U.S. The third is a small system just off Africa and is not expected to develop for at least five days, so itís early to tell much.
Offshore fishing was a little hit and miss late last week, but the wahoo bite has really picked up this week. Some fishermen returned with double digit catches of wahoo, plus other species. Many of the wahoo were smaller, but there were some that reached the 40 pound minimum for a citation and a couple of really big ones.
Many fishermen also caught dolphin and some of them caught a lot. One fisherman said a school of dolphin he found around a floating palm tree was the best bailing action he has seen all year. He said the dolphin were pretty nice size too, with many of them being right at the point where they are large slingers or maybe small gaffers.
Several fishermen also had encounters of the billfish kind. A few sailfish and several marlin were temporarily lifted aboard for pictures and then returned to the water with stories to tell their billfish grandbabies of the day they were abducted by the humans. Several even received numbered tags to prove it.
The broken record is that offshore bottom fishing is good. It will be getting better soon too as the water cools and gag and scamp grouper move inshore during the fall. Everything is biting and only red snapper season is closed. Many fishermen are returning with limits of grouper, beeliners and black sea bass. They are also catching triggerfish and near limits of grunts and porgys.
King mackerel fishing has some slowdowns last week, but picked up a little over the weekend. Fishermen found kings in the 50 to 80 foot depths along much of the coast and a little deeper, say out to approximately 110 feet east of Cape Lookout. Still, the kings are scattered and arenít everywhere. When you find them itís good, but you donít always find them.
The good news is we are now in September and the water should begin to cool. The kings will move closer inshore when it does. It might be another few weeks, but theyíll be chasing bait close to the beaches soon.
Spanish mackerel were a little hit and miss last week too. When found, there were good numbers of hungry fish and some big ones too, but they werenít in all the places they have been being. Around the mouths of the inlets and at the nearshore artificial reefs are good places to begin looking for them.
I received several good reports of false albacore for near Cape Lookout this week. The reports say there is a good mixture of false albacore, bluefish, Spanish macks, sharks and more in the area between the hook and the point. They are often out off the beach a bit in 40 feet of water, but they are definitely there. The fly fishermen are already out having fun and sharpening their skills for the Cape Lookout Albacore Festival that is coming up in late October.
Pier fishermen also had a mixed week. King mackerel began biting again late last week from Bogue Inlet Pier at Emerald Isle down to Topsail. There were several tarpon caught from the piers at Oak Island. In addition to the kings and tarpon, pier fishermen also caught Spanish mackerel, a few flounder, trout, pompano, bluefish, red drum, and black drum.
Just when you think the rain might be letting up and the water might clear up, the rains come again. There was a break for several days last week and then there were showers and thunderstorms over last weekend. Now, there has been a break for a couple of days this week, but the forecast includes a lot of rain for the weekends and next week. There were a few locations where the water was trying to clear, but what hasnít muddied back up yet should get muddy over the next few days.
The good thing is that fish are still biting. I donít know if they have gotten used to it or what, but Iíll try to contain my surprise with happiness. If you are comfortable running up some of the smaller creeks, the water is a little cleaner near the backs of them. Some days it seems there are a few more hungry fish near the backs of the creeks, but you have to get by a bunch of sand bars and oyster rocks to get to them. If you do this, move slowly and be careful.
For the past few weeks, the flounder action has been the best of the inshore and nearshore fishing along the entire coast. Structure seems to be the primary key. Several fat flatties have been caught along the wall at the Morehead City State Port and around the pilings and bulkheads of bridges from Manteo to Sunset Beach. Flounder are also flounder biting on many of the nearshore artificial reefs and rocks.
While flounder fishing is good, this week it may have been lightly eclipsed with the improving puppy drum fishing. The pups bit well this week and in a lot of places. Several fishermen also reported limits of speckled trout, especially when the temperatures cooled around mid-week.
Most fishermen are having their best luck with live baits. Trout have been picky and for the most part, they have held out for live shrimp. They like them best suspended under a cork about a foot off the bottom. Puppy drum like those live shrimp too (and so does every bait thief in the marsh) and wonít hesitate to pile on them.
Pups will also hit mullet minnows, mud minnows and small menhaden and donít seem to care if they are held off the bottom under a cork or fished on the bottom on a Carolina rig. Flounder seem to prefer live minnow and menhaden baits and they like them fished on the bottom on Carolina rigs.
All of these fish will also hit soft plastic baits. Pups and specks will hit topwater lures, especially early and late in the day. Pups and flounder also like weedless gold spoons and spinnerbaits. You typically wonít catch as many in this warm water while fishing with lures, but you can catch some fish.
The old drum bite is going strong in the lower Neuse River and around the edges of Pamlico Sound. The big drum are feeding well and are being caught in a couple of ways. The traditional way to fish for them is using chunks of mullet and menhaden fished on the bottom. This method is most popular in the afternoons into the evenings.
The new method for catching the big drum works in the daytime, which is a relief for many fishermen. Itís also safer too, as you can watch the weather better while out on big water. Fishermen are using larger popping corks and soft plastics or jigs, much like for puppy drum and specks in the marshes. Apparently even those big drum still equate the sound of a popping cork with a call to dinner.
MAD 9 Southport
MAD 9 Southport will be the effort of a large team of volunteers from across N.C. MAD events are all-volunteer events and volunteers are still needed. Volunteers with boats are needed to take the troops fishing and 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 MAD 9 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.
Deer Processing Seminar
Instructors from QDMA will provide step-by-step instructions on how to process a deer after the hunt. Topics include field dressing, skinning, taxidermy preparation, safe food-handling techniques, basic home-processing procedures, as well as equipment needed. Participants will also receive a booklet of flavorful venison recipes.
The seminar is free, but pre-registration is required and attendance is limited to the first 60 participants. For more information or to register, contact Smith at 910-868-5003, ext. 14, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center offers outdoor education classes all year. Most programs are free and open to the public. For more information about the Pechmann Center, or to check on upcoming clinics, visit www.ncwildlife.org and click on the ďLearningĒ link or go to the John E Pechmann Fishing Education Center Facebook page.
QDMA is a non-profit wildlife conservation organization dedicated to ensuring the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat and the hunting heritage. For more information, visit the Cape Fear River Management QDMA webpage at www.capefearriverbranchqdma.org or their Facebook page.
September 17: The NCMFC Standard Commercial Fishing License Eligibility Board, 10:00 A.M., N.C. Division of Marine Fisheriesí Central District Office, Morehead City. Contact Ann Bordeaux-Nixon at 910-796-7261 or Ann.Bordeaux-Nixon@ncdenr.gov.
Tournaments, Seminars, Club Meetings and Events
September 1 to Nov 29: Tex's Tackle Fall Inshore Tournament, Trout and flounder, Tex's Tackle, Wilmington, www.texstackle.com .
September 1 to Dec 31: Chasiní Tails Outdoors Speckled Trout Challenge, Chasiní Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.
September 12 and 13: King of the Cape Open, King mackerel, Town Creek Marina, Beaufort, http://kingofthecapeopenkingmackereltournament.yolasite.com.
September 13: Carolina Beach Inshore Challenge, Flounder and red drum, Inlet Watch Marina, Carolina Beach, www.fishermanspost.com.
September 13: Opening Day for 2014 Deer Archery Season, For more information visit www.ncwildlife.org.
September 18 to 20: The Atlantic Beach Saltwater Classic was originally scheduled for this weekend. For more information visit www.bluewaterpromo.com.
September 19 to October 4: 8th Annual Flounder Surf Fishing Tournament, Flounder, Emerald Isle, www.emeraldisle-nc.com.
September 20: The Redfish Shootout Fall Tournament, Redfish, Surf City Wildlife Boating Access at Waterway Park, Surf City, www.redfishshootoutseries.com.
September 22: Deer Processing Seminar, John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville, www.ndwrc.org/learning or www.capefearriverbranchqdma.org.