It's difficult to believe, but even as dirty as the water in our creeks, rivers, and ocean is, there are hungry fish looking for something to eat.  Yep, the water quality may have slowed some fishing and moved fish around, but it hasn't shut down the bite and there are some surprises lurking beneath the surface.

Water from the extensive inland flooding is reaching the coast.  Thankfully the horrendous inland flooding is finally receding.  Unfortunately, it will be a long time, if ever, before things get back to normal in many places.  Someone pointed out this was North Carolina's second 500 year flood in 17 years and many of the folks affected were the same ones who felt the brunt of the flooding after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.  This is a serious situation and has already resulted in 26 deaths.  Please pay attention and don't do anything questionable or foolish.

Pier fishermen have been at it every day and have a mixed catch for their efforts.  There has been a run of king mackerel at the Topsail and Oak Island Piers and large red drum from the Outer Banks to the S.C. line.  Many have been catching speckled trout and black drum.  There have also been some pompano, bluefish, flounder and a scattering of other fish.  One of the surprises has been false albacore at the Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle piers.  These little cousins in the tuna family will really stretch your string, especially on Spanish and bluefish jigging outfits.

Some pier fishermen are catching spots, but the bite is inconsistent. There have been some scattered good catches of spots at different places along the coast.  My suggestion would be to call your preferred pier and ask.

There has been some action in the surf too.  the water is cleaner the farther you can get from an inlet and that seems to help.  Surf fishermen are catching flounder, speckled trout, red drum, black drum, and more.  A few, especially off Oak Island, are catching large red drum.

False albacore disappeared for few days after Hurricane Matthew, but began returning last week and have been around from Cape Lookout to Bogue Inlet  and off Wrightsville Beach this week.

Until the kings moved in to the piers this week, the thought had been that they and Spanish, had moved offshore to where the water is cleaner.  That may have been the case, but the kings are returning.  I haven't heard a Spanish mack report this week.  However the false albacore have returned and so have the glass minnows, so if the Spanish are going to give us another run this year, it's about time.

I remember after several hurricanes, it took a week or two for the nearshore king bite to get going again.  There was one, I think it was Hurricane Floyd in 1999, that a couple of weeks after the hurricane the nearshore king bite was on fire - and the water off the Cape Lookout Jetty looked a whole lot more like a strong cup of Folgers Select than ocean water.  You had to have kings almost on the surface to see them to gaff them.  I'm not saying that will happen again, but it could - and it sure would be nice

More fishermen took advantage of nice weather this week and headed offshore.  They found wahoo, blackfin tuna, a few late dolphin.  There were also some yellowfin tuna from Cape Lookout to the north.  Some of the fish were on the inshore edge of the Gulf Stream along color changes, temperature breaks and grass lines, while some were a little farther off in deeper water at the break.  The deeper water fish were also working along color changes, temperature breaks, grass lines, rips,  and other edges in the water.

Offshore bottom fish were biting well too.  There were only a few reports of bottom fish, but they were good.  The catches included grouper, beeliners. black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts and more.  The key to good offshore bottom fishing is locating fish on structure and it can be ledges, rocks, wrecks or artificial reefs.

I continue to be surprised at the quality of inside fishing since Hurricane Matthew.  It has been very good at times and pretty good most of the time.  There is some runoff and the water is dirty, but there are hungry fish in it and they are feeding.

Flounder, pups and specks are all biting.  There have been large flounder and specks weighed at tackle shops from Harkers Island to Sunset Beach.  Some are being caught on live baits and some are being caught on lures.  The top bait for specks is live shrimp.  Flounder will eat them too, but prefer minnows, like mullet minnows and peanut menhaden. 

Structure that disrupts water flow and the bait moving with it makes good ambush points for specks, pups and flounder.  This can be as simple as oyster rocks, dock pilings, and bars extending out from creek mouths. 

When you don't have live bait, try fishing soft plastics.  Flounder hit soft plastic shrimp as readily as anything and trout and pups are already looking for shrimp, so anything in that shape has potential to be productive.

Puppy drum also eat crabs, sandfiddlers, and more.  Not to say pups don't go deep occasionally, but many are caught in less than 4 feet of water.  There have been some pups in the surf too, especially around the inlets.         

Flounder Season Has Not Closed
Flounder season has not closed for recreational fishing or large mesh gill nets as was planned.  A suit was filed September 23 in Carteret County Superior Court to prevent the flounder season from closing and on October 6, a Superior Court Judge issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the season from closing.

Feds Propose New Cobia Regulations in Hope of Avoiding Closure During 2017
At their September meeting, the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council adopted new cobia regulations for federal waters (3-200 miles offshore) for 2017.  The new regulations reduce the bag limits and increase the minimum size in hopes of avoiding a closure during the 2017 season.  However, there are also provisions to close the season if the allocation is caught.

The new federal regulations allow 1 fish per person up to a maximum of 6 per boat, with a 36 inch fork length (tip of lower jaw to middle of fork in tail) minimum size. 

North Carolina currently has more restrictive regulations and the Marine Fisheries Commission will have to decide to stay with the current N.C. regulations or change the lesser limits and larger minimum size to meet the federal regulations.  If N.C. stays with the current regulations, they will in effect become the regulations for federal waters off N.C. also as fish must be landed at ramps and marinas in N.C. waters.  Information on N.C. regulations can be found at www.ncdmf.net and information on federal regulations can be found at www.safmc.net.   

SAFMC to Hold Public Hearing Webinar About Recreational Cobia Changes
The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) will hold a public hearing webinar about changes to the recreational fishing season for Atlantic cobia on October 25, 2016 at 6:00 P.M.  The proposed changes would impact management of Atlantic cobia, which extends from the FL/GA border northward to NY.

Coastal Migratory Pelagics Amendment 30 includes one action to change the recreational fishing year for Atlantic cobia.  In combination with the proposed changes to the recreational bag/vessel limit and minimum size limit in Framework Amendment 4 (approved by the SAFMC in September 2016), the change to the recreational fishing year is expected to reduce the risk of exceeding the recreational annual catch limit before participants in all states have opportunities to fish for cobia.

This webinar will be the only public meeting on this.  Registration is required to participate in the webinar and can be done by visiting https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8828138666354489601.

SAFMC staff will provide a presentation on the amendment and provide participants an opportunity to ask questions. Once the Q&A session is complete, staff will open the public comment portion of the hearing and participants will be able to provide verbal public comment via the webinar using the mics on their computer or phone. participants may access the amendment documents and a video presentation in advance by visiting the SAFMC YouTube channel.

Those who cannot participate in the webinar may submit written comments by using the online public comment form, mail, or fax.  The amendment materials are posted to the website and comments must be received by 5:00 P.M. on November 15, 2016.

There is an online public comment form at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf2M4xv4fu3OZdOGLon1xbZZ8Zw8rL8v-CSENu-EKgWsxeSOw/viewform?c=0&w=1.  Comments with letterhead, graphics, images and the like must be mailed or e-mailed.  Fax comments to Gregg Waugh, Executive Director, SAFMC, at 843-769-4520 or mail to Gregg Waugh, Executive Director, SAFMC, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC  29405.

NC Wildlife Resources Commission and N.C. Aquariums Host Ongoing Fishing Programs
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission operates four education centers across N.C. and offers a variety of fishing and outdoor education programs. The closest of the education centers is the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville.  Others are at the Centennial Campus Center at NC State University in Raleigh, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education in Corolla, and the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education in Pisgah Forest.  For more information on the centers and their programs, go to the Wildlife Resources Commission website at www.ncwildlife.org and open the "Learning" tab.  The John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center also has a Facebook page. 

The North Carolina Aquariums offer fishing and other outdoor programs through their aquariums and Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head.  The Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium is local and others are at Fort Fisher and Manteo.  For more information on the Aquariums and their programs, visit www.ncaquariums.com and select your preferred location.

NC WRC And DU Offer Free Duck Hunting Seminars
Seven free waterfowl hunting seminars will be offered by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Ducks Unlimited across N.C. starting next week.  The seminars, which will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. are designed for new and experienced hunters.  Topics will include waterfowl identification, hunting methods, decoys and calling, firearms and ammunition selection, specialty clothing, plus bird cleaning and cooking.  Pre-registration is required and participants must register online. 

Dates and locations are:

* Oct. 24, Cumberland County Extension Center, 301 East Mountain Drive, Fayetteville, N.C. 28306;
* Oct. 25, Pitt County Extension Center, 403 Government Circle, Suite 2, Greenville, N.C. 27834;
* Oct. 26, Pasquotank County Extension Center, 1209 McPherson St., Elizabeth City, N.C. 27909;
* Oct. 27, N.C. State University Engineering Building II (EBII), Classroom 1025, 890 Oval Drive, Raleigh, N.C. 27606;
*Nov. 15, Onslow County Extension Center,4024 Richlands Hwy., Jacksonville, N.C. 28540;
* Nov. 16, Bass Pro Shops, 8181 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord, N.C. 28027;
* Nov. 17, Forsyth County Extension Center, 1450 Fairchild Rd., Winston-Salem, NC 27105;

 “Similar to the turkey hunting, deer hunting and deer processing seminars we’re offering this year, these waterfowl seminars are designed to serve the growing interest in the great waterfowl hunting opportunities our state offers,” said Walter “Deet” James, the Commission’s hunting heritage biologist.

Justin Aycock, the N.C. youth and education coordinator for the North Carolina Chapter of Ducks Unlimited said, "The seminars also provide a forum for Ducks Unlimited to promote its Sportsmen for Tomorrow program which promotes youth involvement in the outdoors and conservation.  These seminars will engage a new generation of sportsmen, so that we can pass on the waterfowl hunting and conservation tradition.”

For more information on the seminars, contact James at 919-707-0059 or walter.james@ncwildlife.org.  For more information on Ducks Unlimited and their mission to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl, visit www.ducks.org.

Wildlife Resources Commission Will Host Public Forum on Alligators
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) and the N.C. Alligator Task Force are holding public forums Nov. 1, 2 and 3 to receive public input on management of American alligators in North Carolina.  Alligator Task force members will consider this input as they develop an alligator management plan. At these meetings, Commission staff will not present proposals for changes in regulations governing alligator hunting.

The locations for the forums, which will run from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. are:
* November 1, Leland Town Hall, Council Chambers, Leland;
* November 2, Swansboro Parks and Recreation, Multi-Purpose Room, Swansboro;
* November 3, Dare County Center, Multi-purpose Room, Manteo.

Gordon Myers, WRC executive director, appointed the 15-member North Carolina Alligator Task Force and charged it with writing an alligator management plan for the state.  Task force members include landowners, homeowners, scientists and WRC staff. The alligator management plan will include:
* Evaluation of all available biological information on alligators in North Carolina;
* Identification of knowledge gaps and additional research needed on alligator population demography, historical changes in alligator habitats, and public attitudes and opinions on alligator conservation;
* Identification of areas where alligators may be over-populated and recommend biological and social strategies to address alligator management issues in these areas;
* Recommendations of geographical management zones;
*Recommendations for metrics to establish the number of permits per year that could be issued for opportunities to harvest alligators by hunting where sustainable and consistent with local alligator population, habitat, and social conditions; and
* Recommendations on a framework for gathering public input on the North Carolina Alligator Management Plan.

Those who cannot attend a forum but would like to offer input can submit their comments to Allen Boynton, Wildlife Diversity Program coordinator, at allen.boynton@ncwildlife.org.  For more information on alligators in North Carolina, visit www.ncwildlife.org/conserving.

Fisheries Meetings
October 23-27:  Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Annual Meeting, Harborside Hotel, Bar Harbor, ME, www.asmfc.org/home/2016-annual-meeting.  

November 16-18:  N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting, Hilton Garden Inn, Kitty Hawk, Contact Nancy Fish at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.

December 5-9:  South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, DoubleTree by Hilton Atlantic Beach Oceanfront, www.safmc.net.

Tournaments, Seminars, Boat/Fishing/Outdoor Shows, and Other Events
July 1 to October 31: Spanish Mackerel Jackpot Challenge, Chasin' Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.  

September 10 to December 3:  Tex's Tackle Trout and Flounder Tournament, Tex's Tackle, Wilmington, www.texstackle.com.             

October 8-30:  Hook a Hoo Rodeo,  Multiple weigh stations from Atlantic Beach to Murrells Inlet, S.C., www.hookahoo.com.

October 16-January 31:  Intracoastal Angler Speckled Trout Tournament, Intracoastal Angler, Wilmington, www.intracoastalangler.com.  

October 17-November 28:  Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament, Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation, Weigh at Reel Outdoors, www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd.  

October 19-22:  NC Beach Buggy Association Red Drum Tournament, Frank and Fran's, Avon, www.ncbba.org.      

October 20-22:  Cape Lookout Albacore Festival, Anchorage Marina, Atlantic Beach, www.capelookoutalbacorefestival.com

October 21-23:  NC Troopers Association Offshore - Inshore Saltwater Challenge, Jaycee Park, Morehead City, www.1042KMT.com.  Tournament was postponed from October 14-16.  

October 21-23:  Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge, Carolina Beach, www.fishermanspost.com.  

October 22:  Jacksonville Speckled Trout Tournament, Casper's Marina, Swansboro, 910-548-FISH.

October 22:  Pamlico County Shrine Club Trout Tournament, Pamlico County Shrine Club, Bayboro, 252-249-2084.

October 29:  Tammy Baxley Memorial Redfish Tournament:  Surf City Welcome Center, Surf City, www.facebook.com/fishfortammy/?fref=ts.  

October 29:  Cape Lookout Shootout 3, The Boathouse, Beaufort, www.capeshootout.weebly.com.  Postponed from October 8.  

October 29-30:  Fall Brawl King Classic, Ocean Isle Fishing Center, Ocean Isle Beach, www.oifc.com.  Postponed from October 8-9.

October 29-30:  Crystal Coast Surf Fishing Challenge, Atlantic Beach, www.fishermanspost.com.  Postponed from October 8-9.

November 2-4:  Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Team & Open Invitational Surf Tournaments, Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, Buxton, www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.  

November 5:  CCA-NC Inshore Open Fishing Tournament, The Boathouse, Beaufort, www.ccanc.org.  

November 5-6:  Topsail Island Fall Surf and Pier Fishing Challenge, Topsail Island, www.fishermanspost.com.    

November 12:  Friendly City Speckled Trout Tournament, Casper's Marina, Swansboro, 910-389-0607.             

Good fishing
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver


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