While we had some gusty northeast winds over last weekend, they began laying out late Sunday and the forecast continues to look pretty good through at least late Sunday. Tropical Storm Karen formed Thursday morning off the Yucatan Peninsula and the early forecasts are for it to track northeast making landfall in the Gulf states and passing inland of the NC Coast on Monday. Tropical Storm Karen is currently forecast to reach hurricane strength at least briefly, but weaken to tropical storm strength before making landfall near the Florida-Alabama state line early Sunday.
We will probably receive some rain and maybe some wind as the storm passes Charlotte early Monday and moves up the I-85 corridor. Unless the track shifts dramatically to the east, Tropical Storm Karen shouldn’t be much of a coastal event.
Tropical Storm Jerry formed from Tropical Depression 11 Monday morning in the mid Atlantic. It has remained over open ocean and weakened back to a tropical depression. Tropical Depression Jerry currently is projected to move to the northeast over more open water and dissipate without affecting any land.
After a couple of weeks with no tropical activity, we should have been expecting something. This is the end of the most active part of the hurricane season and tropical systems have formed randomly much of this year, so why not a couple now. If you prefer tracking tropical systems on your own, the website for the National Hurricane Center website is www.nhc.noaa.gov and Mike’s Weather Page (www.spaghettimodels.com) is another website I like for tropical weather information. Mike’s Weather Page is also on Facebook.
While there hasn’t been a concentration anywhere, pier fishermen along the N.C. Coast have caught a few kings in the last week and I expect it to improve. Unfortunately at noon on Thursday, there had not been a king caught by one of the fishermen in the Bogue Inlet Pier King Tournament. There is still a day and a half to go and the water looks good and there is a lot of bait, so it could fire off at any time.
Pier fishermen are also catching flounder, red drum, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, whiting, a few early spots and more. As the water cools a few more degrees over the next few weeks, pier fishing should get even better.
More large Spanish mackerel were caught this week. Some of the Spanish are large enough they have hit pogeys that were being slow trolled for kings. I have a lot better success with the large Spanish using smaller baits they can get in their mouth easier. My favorite is 3 to 4 inch mullet minnows, but peanut pogeys often work almost as well.
Fishermen have found large Spanish around the nearshore artificial reefs and rocks. There are also flounder at these locations. If you are at one of the popular nearshore spots for flounder, it would be wise to drift a bait for the big Spanish too.
Fishermen who prefer trolling will find Spanish mackerel will also hit Clarkspoons trolled behind planers and trolling sinkers. The general tendency of the Spanish caught on spoons is to be smaller, but occasionally a big one grabs a spoon too.
If you would prefer to cast rather than troll, you can catch some Spanish mackerel, but the fall run of false albacore has begun and they have moved to the beach off Shackleford Banks and Wrightsville Beach.. False albacore seem to be more comfortable around running motors and don’t seem to spook quite as readily when trying to maneuver to within casting range.
The king mackerel action definitely moved closer inshore this week. There have been some really nice kings caught just off the beach in several places, especially around Cape Lookout. King mackerel fishermen heading offshore into deeper water need to be prepared. In the last few weeks, there have been sailfish, wahoo and dolphin caught by fishermen trolling live baits for kings and all are pleasant surprises. This is the weekend in 1987 when Buddy Grooms caught the current N.C. State record sailfish of 100 pounds off Shallotte Inlet.
Farther offshore, the bottom fishing and trolling for wahoo are both very good. The bottom fish action begins at about 60 feet and can be good to 100 feet plus. While some wahoo have moved inshore following bait, the big numbers are holding over structure at the edge of the Continental Shelf at about 150 to 300 feet. Wahoo fishermen may also catch some dolphin, tuna (mainly blackfins, but a few yellowfins) and an occasional late billfish.
In the inside waters, flounder, puppy drum and speckled trout are biting. There are also some black drum and still an occasional ladyfish, but the water is quickly getting too cool for them.
The nearshore artificial reefs and the docks in creeks and along the Intracoastal Waterway have been mentioned often this week as good places to catch a doormat flounder. Certainly there are some other specific places in each area, like the State Port Wall in Morehead City and Snows Cut at Carolina Beach. There is an ongoing debate about whether flounder prefer live baits or artificials and right now the answer is they are feeding heavily and like both.
The water temp is just about right to have puppy drum really active. They are spread along the Intracoastal Waterway much like flounder, plus in most bays and creeks. Pups tend to be out in the main creeks during the lower stages of the tides, but move back into the smaller creeks and marsh as the tide rises. They are almost always hungry and rarely refuse natural baits, dead or alive. They sometimes don’t pounce on all artificials, but soft plastics usually catch them well and scented baits or adding scent ups the odds of catching.
The numbers of trout aren’t quite as high as the flounder and pups right now, but they are growing. Trout are often near the same waters as pups and flounder, but prefer the deeper sections, while pups and flounder are often shallow.
While the water is warm and they don’t need to eat, trout can be finicky. Live shrimp usually get them in a feeding mood and the most popular way to offer live shrimp is suspended under a float. Trout sometimes get excited by the splashing of topwater lures and they will also hit soft plastics. Everyone has their favorite soft plastic lure for specks, but I like shrimp shapes and pearl, white or glow are almost always good colors.
The large red drum bite in Pamlico Sound and the Neuse River has tapered off some with the cooler weather, but there were still some around at mid week. A new way to catch the big reds that has been growing in popularity is fishing lures suspended under popping corks. When they are scarce, this allows covering more area than being anchored and soaking baits on the bottom.
Do not be surprised if you begin seeing flounder nets in area waters after a long absence. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries received the Endangered Species Act Incidental Take Permit for sea turtles several weeks ago and reopened much of the state’s coastal waters to large mesh gill nets for flounder effective October 1. Part of the agreement is that the large mesh nets (larger than 4 inch stretched mesh) may only be used Sunday through Thursday nights (Monday through Thursday only in some areas) and may not be set until the last hour before sunset and must be removed by the first hour after sunrise. For more information visit www.ncdmf.net and see Proclamation M-31-2013.
The southern great white sharks seem to have found the Outer Banks to their liking. Mary Lee, who had moved off Cape Hatteras, turned back to Ocracoke over the weekend and is back off Cape Hatteras now. Lydia, who moved to Cape Hatteras last week, is meandering a little, but has continued north to off Corolla and has moved even more inshore of the Continental Shelf, while Mary Lee stays right at the break. You can follow the travels of Mary Lee, Lydia, Genie and other sharks around the world by visiting www.ocearch.org and opening the shark tracker.
Several MFC Advisory Committee meetings are scheduled during the next few weeks.
* The River Herring Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee will meet October 9 at 6:00 P.M. at the Chowan County Agricultural Extension in Edenton. For more information contact Amy Larimer or Kathy Rawls at 252-264-3911 or Amy.Larimer@ncdenr.gov or Kathy.Rawls@ncdenr.gov. An agenda for the meeting will be available in the public meetings section of the MFC/DMF website at www.ncdmf.net.
* The Finfish Advisory Committee will meet October 15 at 10:30 A.M. at the Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office in Morehead City. For more information contact David Taylor at 252-808-8074 or David.L.Taylor@ncdenr.gov. An agenda for the meeting will be available in the public meetings section of the MFC/DMF website at www.ncdmf.net.
The Marine Fisheries Commission is looking for commercial and recreational fishermen and scientists who would like to serve on volunteer committees to advise them on various fisheries issues. Two regional advisory committees – Northern and Southern – and three standing advisory committees –Finfish, Habitat and Water Quality, and Shellfish/Crustacean – review matters referred to them by the commission and recommend management strategies.
Individuals interested in serving as an adviser should be willing to attend meetings at least once every two months and participate in the committee process, which includes reviewing scientific documents and issue papers to make recommendations on management strategies. There is no pay, but advisers are reimbursed for travel and other expenses related to their official duties.
The MFC chairman appoints committee members for three-year terms and several terms will expire in January. One qualification for serving on an advisory committee is that applicants may not have had a significant fisheries violation within the past three years. Adviser applications are available online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/mfc-advisory-committees, at the Division of Marine Fisheries’ offices or by calling 252-808-8022 or 800-682-2632. Applications must be returned by November 1.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule and its associated draft environmental impact statement, which aims to reduce discards of Atlantic bluefin tuna, and outlines measures to help ensure compliance with international quotas. The proposed measures in the draft of Amendment 7 to the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan are designed to control bluefin tuna landings and dead discards in the pelagic longline fishery, enhance reporting in all bluefin tuna fisheries, and ensure U.S. compliance with binding recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
While NOAA Fisheries has identified bluefin tuna as a species of concern, they are not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA Fisheries will hold numerous public hearings for this action along the Atlantic Coast, and in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico regions until the comment period closes on October 23. Dates, times and locations of the public hearings will be announced at a later date.
Throughout the hearings, NOAA Fisheries will accept public comments on the proposed management measures. Electronic comments should be submitted via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0101 and click the "Comment Now!" icon.
NOAA Fisheries is also seeking public comments on Amendment 27 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The Notice of Availability for Amendment 27 published in the Federal Register on September 18, 2013, (78 FR 57337). Amendment 27 Contains the Following Actions:
* Extending the South Atlantic Council’s management responsibility for Nassau grouper to include the Gulf of Mexico.
* Increasing the number of allowable crew members on dual permitted vessels (vessels that have both a federal South Atlantic Charter/Headboat Permit for Snapper-Grouper and a South Atlantic Unlimited or 225-Pound Snapper-Grouper Permit) from three to four crew members.
* Allowing captains and crew of for-hire vessels with federal South Atlantic Charter/Headboat Snapper-Grouper Permits to retain bag limit quantities of all snapper-grouper species.
* Allowing routine changes of catch limits to be modified quickly through an abbreviated process.
* Removing blue runner from the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region.
Copies of Amendment 27 may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2013/am27/index.html or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Web site at www.safmc.net.
Comments on Amendment 27 must be received no later than November 18, 2013.
Comments may be submitted electronically via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0085 and click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments, or by mail to NOAA Fisheries – Southeast Regional Office – Sustainable Fisheries Division, c/o Kate Michie, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
Coastal Buoy, 41036, which is located 30 miles offshore of Topsail Island in Onslow Bay, is one of a series of buoys that provide weather and oceanographic information, such as air temperature, barometric pressure, water temperature, and wave heights, for a range of fishermen, scientists and students. In 2005, the Coastal Ocean Research and Monitoring Program (CORMP) at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington purchased buoy 41036 from NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center for approximately $240,000 and has been paying $40,000 annual maintenance costs since then.
Congressional support was the key for the acquisition of buoy 41036, but due to reduced grant funding for CORMP, the program can no longer afford to pay the maintenance fee, which has risen to $60,000 annually. Without the maintenance funding, the National Data Buoy Center will no longer maintain the buoy and they will have the US Coast Guard remove the buoy.
Buoy 41036 is one of the primary means of providing real-time conditions for fishermen and mariners in Onslow Bay, which runs from Frying Pan Shoals to Cape Lookout Shoals. Concerned fishermen and CORMP supporters are asking fishermen and mariners to contact their N.C. Federal Legislators and ask for continued support of this important buoy. I can’t speak for others, but I support this as Buoy 41036 is what I check for current sea conditions when considering fishing between Cape Lookout and Cape Fear.
The contacts are:
Senator Richard Burr: www.burr.senate.gov/public;
Senator Kay Hagen: www.hagan.senate.gov/contact;
Congressman Mike McIntyre: http://mcintyreforms.house.gov/contact;
Congressman Walter B. Jones: https://jones.house.gov/contact-me/email-me.
Congressman David E. Price: https://forms.house.gov/price/webforms/contact_form.shtml.
The NC Seafood Festival will be held October 4 to 6 in downtown Morehead City. There will be a variety of seafood to sample, plus numerous events, entertainment a boat show and fishing expo and a fishing tournament. For more information visit www.ncseafoodfestival.com.
The NC Fall Redfish Shootout that was scheduled for September 28 from the Wildlife Ramp at Fulchers Landing in Sneads Ferry was postponed until October 5. This is a team redfish tournament with each team weighing and releasing their catch alive. For more information visit www.rileyrods.com/?page_id=2067.
The New Bridge Bank Spanish Mackerel Open that was scheduled for September 28 from Sea Path Marina in Wrightsville Beach has been postponed until October 12 due to the high winds last weekend. This is the first year for this event as a Spanish mackerel tournament. It was held as a king mackerel tournament for several years. For more information visit www.fishermanspost.com.
The Emerald Isle Annual Flounder Surf Fishing Tournament began on September 28 and will continue through October 5. For more information visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd.
The Bogue Inlet Pier King Mackerel Tournament is underway. It began September 30 and will continue through October 4. Hopefully it changes before time runs out for the tournament, but as I put this together, there had not been a king decked yet. For more information visit www.bogueinletpier.com.
The NC Seafood Festival Family Fishing Tournament will be held October 5 and 6 from Oceanana Fishing Pier in Atlantic Beach and Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle. There are multiple species featured in the tournament. For more information visit www.ncseafoodfestival.com.
The Neuse River Back Water Open tournament will be held October 5 from Lawson Creek Park in New Bern. This is a two-person team tournament that will allow only artificial baits and scoring will be based on an eight fish aggregate weigh of two each of speckled trout, red drum, flounder and striper. For more information visit www.nrbwo.com.
The first weekend in October is time for the big one. The US Open King Mackerel Tournament in Southport has been the largest king tournament in the country for the past few years and is on target to do it again in 2013. With the great weather forecast, my prediction is 400 plus boats. Fishing days are October 4 and 5 with weigh-ins at Southport Marina. It should be a parade of big fish and lots of pretty boats. For more information visit www.usopenkmt.com.
The Fish For A Friend Flounder and Red Drum Tournament will be held October 5 from Inlet Watch Yacht Club in Carolina Beach. Proceeds from the tournament, which is being held by Saltwater Marine, will be donated to the family of 2 year old Stella Menius to help with the expenses for Stella’s battle with lymphoblastic leukemia. For more information visit www.fishforafriend.net.
The Davis Island Fishing Foundation Annual Surf Fishing Tournament will be held at Cape Lookout October 10 to 12. This tournament recognizes multiple species. For more information visit www.diffclub.com.
The CCA Inside and Out Tournament will be held October 12 from Portside Marina in Morehead City. This tournament has division for fishing in the ocean or inside waters and recognizes multiple species of fish. For more information visit www.ccanc.org.
The Nags Head Surf Fishing Club Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament will be held October 9 to 11 from the Ramada Inn in Kill Devil Hills. This is a team tournament. For more information visit www.nagsheadsurffishingclub.org.
The North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association Oak Island Fall Classic Kayak Fishing Tournament will be held October 10 through 12 from Ocean View United Methodist Church in Oak Island. This is actually two tournaments that run concurrently. The Ocean Slam is for five ocean species and fishes two of three days between October 10 and 12. The Inshore Tournament features three inshore species, a slam division and special categories for lady and youth fishermen and fishes on October 12. For more information visit www.nckfa.com.
The Ocean Crest Pier Fall Rumble King Mackerel Tournament will be held October 12 and 13 from Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island. Spanish mackerel and bluefish will be secondary species. For more information visit www.oceancrestpier-nc.com.
The Fall Brawl King Classic King Mackerel Tournament will be held October 12 and 13 from the Ocean Isle Fishing Center. This is the final of five tournaments in SKA Division 9. Fishermen will be allowed to choose to fish either Saturday or Sunday. For more information visit www.oifishingcenter.com.