Earlier this week we were looking at great weather for the weekend and next week, but that forecast changed - a lot. The cooler days were nice and it isn't supposed to warm but a few degrees, but now we're looking at a windy forecast that has rain too. The wind is supposed to pick up to 15 knots or so for Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday climb to around 20 knots until Thursday. It appears it will have a lot of east in it and that's not a good wind anywhere.
The storm generator in the tropics just won't take a break now that it has started. There are three systems on the map Thursday morning. One is in the Gulf of Mexico off Southwest Florida and isn't currently showing much potential to strengthen. The other two are coming off the coast of Africa and are between the Cape Verde and Windward Islands. These systems have been given a much better potential for strengthening. One has already become Tropical Depression 9 and is expected to turn to the north into open ocean.
The third system has a 70 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone in 48 hours and that raises to 80 percent when extended to 5 days. You might want to check on this one before the weekend ends. It won't be anywhere near us, but there may be some projections regarding what it could do next week. The next system that forms and strengthens enough to being named will become Tropical Storm or Hurricane Ida. The National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov) and Mike's Weather Page (www.spaghettimodels.com) are good places to check and are updated several times daily.
Crowds were small on the water last weekend and it was a combination of a marginal weather forecast and being the weekend after Labor Day. Many fishermen had a short week and didn't push the envelope to fish again. Those who fished had mixed results and several credited the less than stellar fishing to weather that go so hot last week leading to the current cool front. Whatever the reason, fishing last week was a mixed bag. The water temperature has already cooled a few degrees this week with the cooler air temperatures and expectations are it will trigger more fish to feed.
Flounder and red drum were caught well again this week. The large drum have been biting in Pamlico Sound and the lower Neuse River for several weeks and it appears a few of them may be out and wandering around. I haven't seen pictures, but heard of several longer than 40 inches caught in the shallows on Cape Lookout Shoals and there have definitely been some on the artificial reefs and following schools of pogies off Brunswick County. The red drum slot is 18 to 27 inches and red drum longer than 40 inches are eligible for a release citation.
Flounder are biting in the ocean and inside the inlets and red drum are feeding with them. Ocean flounder fishermen are split between using live minnows or pogies on Carolina rigs and vertical jigging bucktails with soft plastic trailers. If your patience is waning, you might want to try the bucktail jigs. Flounder hit them hard and you can set the hook immediately. With live baits you have to wait as the flounder turns the bait to swallow it. Red drum hit hard and run, so there isn't much doubt what they are from the get-go.
The reports of old drum in the Pamlico Sound and Neuse River were excellent again this week. Some fishermen are concerned this shot of cooler weather and the cooling water will have them leaving until next year. However, until they leave, it's game on. The big drum are hitting soft plastics under popping corks from early morning into the afternoon and then prefer chunks of fresh mullet fished on the bottom from the afternoon into the night.
Flounder and puppy drum are biting pretty well in inside waters. These are mostly puppy drum of 30 inches or less, but occasionally one of the big bruiser drum show up inside too. The best bait for mixed bag flounder and puppy drum are finger mullet fished on Carolina rigs. Both will also hit soft plastics and weedless spoons retrieved slowly. Pups will also eat cut bait and shrimp - whole, cut, live or dead.
Look for places where something interrupts the tide current. The structure that interrupts the current usually concentrates the baitfish for a few feet and gives the flounder or drum a place to hide and ambush them. Creek mouths, points, oyster rocks, sand bars, docks, bulkheads and such are the things to look for.
Trout look for similar concentrations of bait, but are usually in a little deeper water, say 6 feet or so, while drum and flounder readily feed in 2 feet or less. The trout bite had slowed for the past few weeks, but lots of fishermen believe the cooling water of this week could be just the thing to get the trout fired up again. Trout will hit soft plastics and hard lures, but most fishermen have more success with live baits. Trout like shrimp, but so do all the countless bait thieves in the creeks and marshes. The most popular way to fish shrimp is suspended a foot or so above the bottom under a float.
Bait has been fairly plentiful lately, with shrimp and mullet minnows in the creeks and mullet minnows and small pogies in the Intracoastal Waterway. Mullet are also running along the beach, just beyond the breakers. If you can throw a cast net, you shouldn't have much difficulty catching bait.
If for some reason you don't have bait, don't hesitate to use artificials - just load them up with scent. Most fishermen will catch better using soft plastics, but others are deadly with hard baits. This time of year the MirrOlure MirrOdine suspending twitchbaits in the small MR 17 and smaller MR 14 sizes often catch well. There is a variety of soft baits that already contain scent. Berkley Gulp is probably the best known and a favorite of many fishermen.
There have been king catches at the ocean piers along all of N.C. this week. If the water cools a few more degrees, the beach bite may be on. There certainly is plenty of bait around. With the northerly winds, the water is clearing at all the south facing beaches. Other fishermen caught Spanish mackerel and they hit live baits and a variety of jigs.
There is a line of mullet minnows headed south down the beach that appears never ending. Other fish are aware of this and when the water clears that could be wide open fishing too. Pier fishermen working the bottom caught flounder, trout, black drum, pompano, bluefish and whiting. There were also spot runs several evenings this week at Bogue Inlet Pier. Those yellow butterflies must have been a good sign.
Several days last week were nice enough to head into the ocean and fish were biting. After the flounder and red drum on the artificial reefs, Spanish mackerel are the next most encountered. If the water is clear, Spanish will come inshore to just beyond the breakers. A couple of weeks ago several fishermen caught Spanish macks while surf fishing and the water should be that clean again by this weekend.
Most fishermen catch Spanish mackerel by trolling small Clarkspoons and mackerel tree rigs behind small planers and trolling sinkers. A few are hitting smaller slow trolled live baits intended for king mackerel and some fishermen are light lining mullet minnows while flounder fishing on the wrecks and reefs. By using lighter tackle to light line the mullet minnows, catching Spanish is more fun than when trolling planers and trolling sinkers. Be prepared though, occasionally a king mackerel will be feeding with the Spanish and if it hits your minnow, you're in for a fight.
Speaking of king mackerel, this was another week that fishing for them was unpredictable and generally inconsistent. The water has been a little warm for kings and fishermen are excited with the few degrees the water cooled this week. Expectations are the mack action should begin to pick up. One surf fisherman reported seeing kings skying on bait in Beaufort Inlet while fishing at Fort Macon this week. That's got to be a good sign.
There have been a few kings caught around the sea buoys and nearshore artificial reefs this week, but most of the king catches were in deeper water. It seems like 50 feet is where the king action begins off the southern N.C. Coast and it's a little deeper off Central and northeastern N.C. Another good thing about the spots in deeper water is there are often dolphin mixed with the kings and no one minds adding a dolphin to the fish box.
King mackerel fishermen generally prefer slow trolling live baits, but sometimes kings will also hit frozen cigar minnows. Several morning the schools of menhaden were scattered or just didn't want to show themselves early in the morning. Ribbonfish (cutlass fish) have been showing up in a few spots inshore and stealing baits intended for other fish. Throw them in your cooler rather than back over as they make great king mackerel baits. Ribbonfish make good baits even when dead so you don't have to deal with their wicked teeth and nasty attitude.
For the umpteenth week in a row, offshore bottom fish has been excellent. The ocean has been rough though and not everyone can be comfortable in the waves and wind. A rocking boat also makes bites difficult to feel. The reports begin with black sea bass and grunts at around 60 feet deep, then adds beeliners, grouper and more at somewhere roughly 80 to 100 feet. The best grouper action has been in depths of 100 feet and more. A fish box full of limits of grouper, beeliners, triggerfish, black sea bass, grunts, porgeys and more makes for a lot of tasty fish dinners.
It is always wise to drift out a light line or two when bottom fishing. Other fish are curious and swim over to see what the ruckus is about. Sometimes they are just window shopping and move on, but many times they will gobble down a small live grunt or a frozen cigar minnow. You might add a king mackerel, dolphin or wahoo to your catch.
The fall wahoo bite is going well and continues to improve. The larger boats make the run offshore regularly and return with excellent catches of wahoo that occasionally surpass 10 fish. The dolphin bite has been really good for a couple of weeks too and everybody likes to catch and eat them.
There are also some scattered blackfin tuna and an occasional misplaced billfish at the first good temperature break at the Gulf Stream. I received a text with a yellowfin tuna picture this week, but didn't receive any more details when I requested them. It sure would be nice to have a fall run of yellowfins to go with the wahoo.
Marine Patrol Officers Receive Honors
Jonathan Weaver began working for the Marine Patrol in August 2008. He is stationed in Brunswick County and patrols the Oak Island and Holden Beach areas. Justin Lott began working for the Marine Patrol in September 2011. He is stationed in Dare County and patrols the beaches from Kitty Hawk to the Virginia state line, as well as Currituck Sound.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council award acknowledges service above and beyond duty requirements, recognizes distinctive service, professionalism and dedication to enforcing fisheries regulations in the South Atlantic region. The Governorís Conservation Achievement Awards, presented by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, honor individuals, associations, businesses and others who have exhibited unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina.
NCMFC Special Meeting for Flounder Supplement Vote Not Called
National Hunting and Fishing Day - Sept. 26, 2015
There will be a variety of interactive activities and demonstrations for each event, with each location providing unique opportunities for participants of all ages to connect with nature and test their outdoors skills. A few of the activities include: Fishing, archery, shooting air rifles, shooting rifles and shotguns, reptile and amphibian exhibits, raptors exhibits, outdoor cooking, tracking and game recovery and much more. The events will be held at: Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, Knotts Island; Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, Corolla; John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville; Lake Wheeler Park, Raleigh; Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, Pisgah Forest; Rose Hill Farm, Nashville; and McKinney Lake Fish Hatchery, Hoffman. For more information visit www.ncwildlife.org.
MAD 10 Southport
It is too late to register your boat and take troops fishing, but persons wanting to help can drive to MAD 10 and help with other things landside. Help is needed for everything from checking the troops in as they arrive, to cooking and feeding them when they return, cleaning fish and helping with taking down the facilities.
Those interested in being a part of MAD 10 - Southport can visit the website at www.militaryappreciationday.org for more information and to register as a volunteer. Iíve been volunteering at MAD events here and in Southport for a handful of years now and highly recommend it. Itís a day you wonít forget. Iím pretty sure I have as much or more fun than the troops I take fishing.
Peer Fishing Festival
NC Wildlife Resources Commission Free Deer Hunting Seminars
Pre-registration is required. For more information, including a list of locations and dates or to register, visit the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission website at www.ncwildlife.org.
Marine Fisheries Commission Seeks Comment on Kingfish and Interjurisdictional
The Kingfish Plan covers three species: southern, northern and Gulf kingfishes. These species are also commonly known as sea mullet or whiting. Comments on the Information Update to the Kingfish Fishery Management Plan should be addressed to Beth Egbert, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 1965, Manteo, N.C. 27954, or sent by email to Beth.Egbert@ncdenr.gov.
Through the Interjurisdictional Plan, the state adopts by reference fishery management plans approved by federal councils or the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Comments on the Information Update to the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Management Plan should be addressed to Michelle Duval, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557 or sent by email to Michelle.Duval@ncdenr.gov.
The Marine Fisheries Commission is scheduled to give final approval to the information updates at its November business meeting.
September 24: Marine Fisheries Commission Northern Regional Advisory Committee, 6:00 P.M., DENR Regional Office, Washington, Contact Katy West at 252-948-3884 or Katy.West@ncdenr.gov or Holly White at 252-473-5734 or Holly.White@ncdenr.gov.
October 6 to 8: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Doubletree Philadelphia Center City, Philadelphia, PA, On-line access http://mafmc.adobeconnect.com/october2015.
Tournaments, Seminars, Boat/Fishing/Outdoor Shows, and Other Events
September 19: Fall Redfish Shootout, Surf City Wildlife Ramp, Surf City, www.redfishshootoutseries.com.
September 19: Military Appreciation Day, Southport Marina, Southport, www.militaryappreciationday.org.
September 19: Bay Creek Classic, Flounder, Fish Factory Road Wildlife Ramp, Southport, www.baycreekclassic.com.
September 24: Deer Processing, From Field to Freezer Seminar, 6:30 - 9:30, Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education, Raleigh, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Quality Deer Management Association, www.ncwildlife.org/enjoying, www.qdma.com.
September 26: Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel Tournament, Harbourgate Marina, N. Myrtle Beach, third of three tournaments in SKA Division 3 and fourth of five tournaments in SKA Division 9. www.rumblekmt.com.
September 26: National Hunting and Fishing Day, multiple locations across N.C., www.ncwildlife.org.
October 1 to 3: US Open King Mackerel Tournament, Southport Marina, Southport, www.usopenkmt.com.
October 3: Carolina redfish Series Championship, Chasin' Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, www.pcflive.com/carolinaredfish.
October 8 to 10: North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association Oak Island Fall Classic, Ocean View United Methodist Church, Oak Island, www.nckfa.com.
October 9 to 11: Cape Lookout Shootout Tournament 3 of 3, Boathouse Marina, Beaufort, http://capeshootout.weebly.com.