Once again we have a cold front approaching on a weekend. I don't know who stepped on the weatherman's toes, but most of us would really appreciate it if you stopped. We are looking at fishable conditions today (Friday) and again on Sunday, but Saturday looks nasty. Friday looks really nice, but on Sunday the northerly winds will force the smaller boats to stay close to shore. The cold air of earlier this week helped the water temperature to drop a few more degrees and they are some critical degrees. The water temperature is now below 70 (66 at Bogue Inlet Pier) and appears to be continuing to cool.
Some of the biggest news this week is the notice of intent to sue sent to the National Marine Fisheries (NMFS) by the Karen Beasley Turtle Rehab Hospital at Topsail. The letter, dated October 20, was sent to NMFS and cites the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries and N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission as being out of compliance with their Incidental Take Permit for sea turtles and therefore all are in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The letter requests all gill nets be removed from N.C. waters. If a solution is not reached in 60 days, the legal action will proceed. The letter may be viewed at http://cfrgnc.blogspot.com.
Spot fishing has generally been good. There are lulls and slow times, but it can fire back off in a matter of minutes. There are numerous good locations along the coast and all are marked by numerous boats. Several good locations (north to south) have been Gallants Channel (near the Beaufort Drawbridge), the Morehead City Turning Basin, the Intracoastal Waterway near the Emerald Isle Bridge, the White Oak River at the ICW, the New River at the ICW, The Cape Fear River at Snows Cut, The Cape Fear River at Fort Caswell, The Lockwood Folly River at the ICW, and the Shallotte River at the ICW. Many fishermen said the bite was usually stronger on the rising tide. Pier fishermen are also catching spots. The spots are fairly good size, but there haven't yet been any of the huge yellow belly ones like in past years. Bloodworms and synthetic bloodworms on double drop rigs is all you need to catch spots.
The cooling water fired off the inshore and nearshore fishing this week. Several sources reported hot speckled trout fishing from the many coastal marsh areas. In the Cape Lookout area they were also caught along the inshore jetties (Radio Island, Shackleford Banks and Fort Macon) and the jetty at Cape Lookout. Numerous limits of specks to three pounds have been reported. A few citation specks (5 pounds) have also been caught.
Puppy drum fishing has also been good. The pups are spread through the area a little more and range from the back of many coast creeks, through the marshes, out to the surf. There are also flounder moving toward the inlets. Several big flatties were caught along the state port wall in Morehead at in Snows Cuts and the lower Cape Fear River.
Some sea mullet and gray trout are also being caught in the Turning Basin and Beaufort Inlet Channel. Some will be out in the deeper areas, but most are holding along the drops at the edges of the channels. Gray trout are also biting at the Dead Tree hole off Shackleford Banks, the rocks off West Onslow Beach, Johns Creek Rock and the WOFES. Some larger grays are being caught under the lights of the Morehead City area high-rise bridges at night.
Dave Dietzler said there were several big schools of false albacore roaming the ocean off Shackleford Banks, between Beaufort Inlet and Cape Lookout. Bobby sand s said there were some off Southport and Wrightsville Beach also. While most of these are smaller fish, there are a few bruisers mixed in. A few Spanish are also there, but the cold water is hustling them to migrate south. Spanish catches should be slowing dramatically.
There was a good bite of kings from the Cape Lookout Jetty to the Barge Wreck and Trawler Buoy and around the Cape Fear Sea Buoy early in the week. As the water has cooled, they have moved around and aren't as consistent. It would be wise to look in this area while headed out, as they could return at any time, but the options will probably be better in warmer water a little farther out. It's also time for the kings to fire up east of Cape Lookout.
There were some kings caught from the piers at Oak Island early in the week, but with the cooling water they are probably gone for the year, with the Spanish soon to follow. Bogue Inlet Pier had a run on black drum on Tuesday and caught a bunch, even one heavier than 10 pounds. Spots are also biting on the piers, but seem to come in waves. Rising tides have been the best time for them. Other pier catches include red drum, pompano, bluefish, flounder and speckled trout.
Smaller boats haven't been getting offshore much lately, but there are some fish being caught there. Hopefully no one pushes the envelope too far to make the trip. The primary offshore fish are wahoo and grouper. Wahoo are found cruising the temperature breaks and weedlines, while grouper are guarding the rocks and wrecks. Some kings have already moved offshore and a few dolphin are still around. The tuna action remains slow except for north of Cape Hatteras. There were also a few sailfish caught this week. Beeliners, black sea bass and a host of various grunts were also caught while grouper fishing.
Military Appreciation Day 4.5 was held from the Oak Island Moose Lodge and South Harbor Village Marina in Oak Island and Southport on Saturday. While not as large as the spring event at Fort Macon, approximately 80 servicemen met with volunteers from across the region for a day of fishing and a nice meal after.
Even with the less than perfect weather Saturday morning, the fellowship and camaraderie were evident. I would bet many of the volunteers had as much fun as the participants. Chris Minish, who drove in from Atlanta to help take the soldiers fishing said he had participated before and really had a good time. I sure enjoyed my time on the river with Carl Bowling (from Ohio) and Justin Bowman (from Ga.) who are stationed at Fort Bragg. We even managed to catch a few flounder for their Sunday night dinner.
The Onslow Bay Sportfishing Club Artificial Lures Only King Mackerel that was scheduled for this weekend was canceled with a notice it will be rescheduled for the spring. For more information visit the Tournament Talk forum at www.captainstanman.us or call 910-353-2659.
Redfish Action held their Redfish Challenge Shootout Championship Tournament Saturday in Beaufort. This tournament was open only to qualified competitors from the 2009 Redfish Challenge Series. The fishermen battled cold wet weather and gusty winds, but produced a surprisingly good catch.
The tournament was won by the Swansboro-based Crystal Coast Graphics team of Captains Jeff Cronk and Mike Taylor. In addition to their 14.68 pound tournament winning aggregate weight, they also had the tournament's heaviest redfish at 7.67 pounds.
Team Native, with Bryan Goodwin and Ryan Allred, was second with 13.25 pounds and Team Shallow Water Culture, with Mike Farrell and Daniel Langley finished third with 12.31 pounds. The award for the redfish with the most spots went to the Shake-N-Bait Team of Matthew Sinsel and John Bluming for a red with six spots.
The Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina (CCA-NC) held their Fifth Annual Inside-Out Tournament Saturday in Morehead City. In spite of cold temperatures and gusty winds, dedicated teams from all across the state showed up to fish the event with proceeds benefiting the N.C. Artificial Reef Enhancement Program. Fisherman began fishing at 7:00 A.M. and by 3:00 P.M. the docks at Portside Marina were full of fishermen heading to and from the scales.
The Inside Division was won by John Branch of Smithfield, with Steve and Scott Woodard on the Bite Me. They paired a 1.75 pound trout with a 5.4 pound redfish to make the heaviest aggregate weight of 7.15 Pounds. Their redfish was also the heaviest of the tournament. For their efforts they won a Pro Series Power Pole, with installation courtesy of Custom Marine Fabrication in New Bern.
Rich Broughton and Bert Owens of Team Fly Away, Beaufort, produced the second heaviest aggregate at 5.22 pounds. Capt. Matthew Waddell and Jeremy Jeffes of Team E-Z Tackle, Goldsboro, caught the third place aggregate, which included the event's largest flounder, a 3.65 pounder.
Even with the brisk north wind, several boats did try the king bite off Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout. There weren't any smokers caught, but when the fish are small, all you have to have is the largest small fish. Jim Hardin, Glenn and Stuart Alligood, Tom Johnson and Bill Boulie of Team Grady White, Greenville, won the Outside Division with a 9.5 pound king. In a great gesture, they donated their winnings to the Artificial Reef Enhancement Program.
W.F. Bulow, Greenville, has a love affair with this tournament and always does well. He has finished first or second in the previous four tournaments and didn't break his streak this year. Bulow and Team Fishin' Buddies claimed second place again.
The Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge was held Saturday and Sunday in Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. The tournament features multiple species, plus top junior, senior and lady anger awards. Fishermen were allowed to fish anywhere in the ocean from Carolina Beach Inlet to the end of the Beach Driving Area at Fort Fisher. The 276 participants came from all across the state.
The big fish of the tournament was an 11.4 pound bluefish William LeTendre used to win that category. Not too far behind was the category-winning 9.8 pound black drum caught by Ronald Campbell. Brad Taydus wrestled a 7.6 pound red drum through the surf to claim the top spot in the red drum category.
After these fish the catch got smaller, but the competition was intense. Dallas Elliot won the whiting category with a 1.4 pounder. Justin Rockwell's .8 pound pompano was the smallest winning fish, but a winner none the less. Barry Fowler caught a 3.4 pound flounder to lead the flatfish category and Reynolds O'Briant landed a 1.6 pound speck to lead the trout fishermen.
The Top Lady Angler was Teresa Barefoot, who caught a 2.1 pound flounder. M.C. Fowler also caught a flounder to claim Top Senior Angler honors. It weighed 2.6 pounds. Banks Osborne beached a 2.8 pound bluefish to earn the Top Junior Angler Award.
The Cape Fear Red Trout Celebrity Classic was held over the weekend from Figure Eight Island. This tournament began with a Gala Dinner Thursday evening and worked its way into a two day, release-only tournament for red drum and speckled trout. Friday was windy and spit a little rain, while Saturday began cold, but warmed up--just like the fishing.
The tournament is a part of the RedBone Tournament Trail and the beneficiary is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. While all accounts have not yet been balanced, tournament organizers anticipate raising approximately $30,000 this year. For more information on the tournament or the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in N.C., visit http://carolinas.cff.org/capefearredtrout.
The Team Champions were Jason Crowder and George Openshaw, who fished with Capt. Ricky Kellum. In route to their massive 1,625 point final score, they landed 29 trout and 1 red drum. Crowder was also awarded the Grand Champion honors for his personal catch of 15 trout and 1 red drum. In addition, Crowder collected the award for catching the most trout during the tournament and won the Spinning Division with 375 points. Openshaw was the top fisherman in the Bait Division and amassed 700 points.
Liz Pitts had a couple of awesome days fishing with Capt. Jot Owens. By the tournament's end she had collected the honors for Runner Up Champion, Top Lady Angler and Largest Trout. Pitts caught 13 trout, 1 redfish and her largest trout was 23 inches long.
Keith Gallaher is a regular in this tournament and fished with Capt. John Huff. This year he caught two red drum using his fly rod to collect top honors in the Fly Division and for catching the Most Redfish. The Largest Redfish Award went to Jerry Todd, who was fishing with Capt. David Baxley. Todd's red was 25 inches long.
The Wildlife Bait and Tackle Flounder Tournament was held October 16 and 17. These were the days the cold front was approaching and it all but shut down the flounder bite that had been strong to that point. Jason McDowell, of Leland, was the winner with a 2.60 pound flounder. Justin Weaver of Oak Island was close behind, but had to settle for second place with a 2.40 pounder. Ricky Bishop of Southport was fishing on the boat with McDowell, but couldn't find a flounder to top McDowell. Bishop was forced to settle for third place with a 1.94 pound flounder.
I had a miscue last week. I was following the saltwater tournament schedule provided by the state and got the date incorrect for the Fall Brawl King Classic. It was not last weekend, but will be held this Saturday and Sunday from Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach. This tournament features one day of fishing per team, but allows them to choose either Saturday or Sunday. It is the final event in SKA Division 9. For more information, visit www.oifc.com.
As the fall fishing gets better, tournaments are being announced almost daily. Unfortunately, many are not on the "official" list compiled by the Division of Marine Fisheries. Even more are being postponed due to weather. If a tournament you are looking for is not included, it was only because I didn't receive notice of it or have an e-mail or phone number to get the results. Please let me know of any new tournaments.
Many tournaments will be taking place in the next few weeks. A couple have already started. The Chasin' Tails Speckled Trout Tournament began October 1 and will run through January 31. This tournament is run by Chasin' Tails Outdoors on the Atlantic Beach Causeway and features overall winners and monthly prizes for specific weight fish. Registration is open and ongoing, but fishermen must be registered for a minimum of five days before they can enter a fish.
The current leader is Carl Edwards with a 5.09 pound speck caught Tuesday. The monthly prize for October is a 7-foot trout rod and the weight to hit is 3.0 pounds. No one has matched that weight yet. For more information, visit www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.
The 7th Annual Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament begins Saturday (Oct. 24) at Emerald Isle and runs through December 5. All fish must be caught fishing on foot in the surf, from a pier, in the inlet or in the sound between Fort Macon and Emerald Isle. This tournament is sponsored by the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Dept. More information is available by calling 252-354-6350.
There will be a speckled trout tournament in Jacksonville this Saturday. For more information call Daniel Sbrocco at 910-346-4328.
The Cedar Point King Mackerel Tournament, also known as the Winberry's King Tournament, that was scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed until October 31. Registration will be open through October 30. For more information call 252-725-9717.
The Carolina Grouper Slam presented by FryingPanTower.com that was scheduled for Saturday in Carolina Beach has been postponed until October 31. Registration will remain open until October 30. The band for the awards party cannot be rescheduled, so the party will go on as scheduled at the Tangerine Grill in Carolina Beach on Saturday night. This tournament features individual categories for gag, scamp and red grouper, plus an aggregate category. For more information visit www.fryingpantower.com.
The NC Beach Buggy Association Red Drum Tournament is this Friday and Saturday at Avon. Registration is open until Thursday night or all the slots are filled. This tournament was formerly known as the Frank and Fran's Red Drum Tournament and the headquarters will still be Frank and Fran's Tackle Shop in Avon. For more information visit www.ncbba.org.
As noted earlier, the Fall Brawl King Classic in Ocean Isle is actually this weekend, not last. For more information visit www.oifc.com.