There was some action on the National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov) map earlier in the week, but as of Thursday morning it is clear. Hurricane Gonzalo cleared the map earlier and two lesser systems have failed to sustain themselves. One of those systems was in the Bay of Campeche off Mexico and became Tropical Depression 9 on Wednesday afternoon. TD 9 moved onto the Yucatan Peninsula and has been downgraded to a remnant low, but continues to have the weather folks watching and scratching their heads.
The system that is the remnants of TD 9 has come and gone a few times already. As recently as Wednesday afternoon it had sustained some circulation and was forecast to move across the Yucatan Peninsula and reemerge into the Caribbean Sea with the possibility of further development. Mike of Mikes Weather Page (www.spaghettimaps.com and Mikeís Weather Page on Facebook) has watching this since earlier in the week and at one time the models had it moving generally to the northeast and across open Gulf Waters. This is probably the perfect example of how unpredictable these systems really are, especially in their early stages. The good thing right now is there arenít any tropical systems currently on the Atlantic map.
Our weather chilled Saturday night into Sunday morning and then got even colder in the mid week. There were temperatures in the 40s scattered across Eastern N.C. Thursday morning. The winds were breezy for a few days, but are forecast to ease up a little into Saturday, then puff a little and play up and down for several days next week. The weather windows should certainly be large enough to go after nearshore fish, but may require a quick check to verify if they will hold long enough for a run offshore. The good news is weíre looking at sunny clear conditions, with daytime highs in the low to mid 70s through Tuesday. .
I may get run out of town for even thinking this, but Iím going to say it anyway. This cold front just may be the one that pushes the king mackerel off the beach for the year and starts the Spanish mackerel heading south for the winter. The action with both has been going pretty well and may last another week, but the air and water are cooling quickly and itís going to move the fish eventually. With cooler water, the bait will move offshore and the fish will follow them. Spanish macks will begin heading south in a week or so unless there is a significant warming. However, we are nearing the end of October, so itís really time for things to be cooling.
The ocean got bumpy with the winds that began last week, but there were several nice days early in the week before the current blow began. The focus of nearshore ocean fishing has been on king and Spanish mackerel. There have been a few kings caught from the piers this week, but the action is much slower than last week and the air and water have cooled three times since then. The pier king action has slowed elsewhere too, but they didnít move far offshore and there have been some large Spanish with them.
The generalization is the Spanish macks have moved offshore a couple of miles. They havenít headed back south yet as a lot of citation (6 pounds) Spanish were caught around the nearshore artificial reefs and hardbottoms just a little off the beaches. Kings have moved off the beaches too, but, like Spanish, they havenít gone too far. There have been some large kings caught this week too.
False albacore have been biting well around Cape Lookout for a while and that action seems to be withstanding the cooling temperatures. The numbers are good and there are some big ones too. This weekend is the Cape Lookout False Albacore Festival (www.capelookoutalbacorefestival.com) and itís shaping up to be a really good one. There have also been some fat alberts off Wrightsville Beach.
Flounder are still biting well on the artificial reefs and nearshore hardbottoms. They have been hitting live baits or jigs and strips. There are some gray trout on the artificial reefs too. Itís a shame the limit on them is a single fish. The grays have been voracious and hit just about any bait or lure dropped to the bottom.
A couple of days were inviting to head offshore and the fishermen that made the trip reported good catches. Several other days the offshore conditions were tough Ė not quite to the level of unsafe, but they certainly werenít comfortable, especially for the smaller boats.
Offshore bottom fishing is hot! The cooling water has triggered the fish and they are feeding heavily. The offshore bottom catches included grouper, beeliners, triggerfish, black sea bass, grunts and more. One of the extras from this was king mackerel for those fishermen who thought to float a light line off the stern.
There are wahoo at the inshore edge of the Gulf Stream. The ride can be long and tough, especially in a smaller boat, but those concerns, bumps and bruises go away pretty quickly when the fish are located and start biting. Offshore trollers also caught some scattered dolphin and blackfin tuna, plus a few isolated billfish. It isnít unusual to hear of a wandering sailfish or white marlin during the fall, especially when the wahoo have bunched up a school of bait and are feeding voraciously.
Kings, cobia and Spanish macks had been being caught from the piers through last week, but that action has slowed dramatically this week. Most pier fishermen blame it on the multiple cold fronts dropping the water temperature and pushing the baitfish offshore. Pier fishermen concentrating on the bottom were picking at some flounder, puppy drum, black drum, sea mullet, pompano, spots and more.
The spot bite has continued to improve, especially along the central N.C. Coast, and fishermen are waiting to see how it is this weekend with a crowd on the pier. This is simple, fill your cooler, meat fishing at its finest. When you find spots, they are usually biting. A double drop bottom rig, some bloodworms or Fishbites synthetic bloodworms and a little time and patience are all you need. Spots are also being caught in the inlets, coastal rivers and along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Inshore fishing has seen some good streaks and some slow streaks over the last week. The general feeling is the cooling weather and a week plus of dry weather will help it a lot.
There has been a pretty consistent trout bite along most of the coast. Specks are in many places in the marshes, bays, creeks, rivers and even along the Intracoastal Waterway. The action slowed when the wind turned to the west last weekend, but returned with the north winds this week. Some fishermen believe you need live baits for specks, but there have been some good catches and big fish that fell for plastic.
Red drum have been, and continue to be, biting pretty well. Many fishermen reported catching their slot drum and releasing some too. Most of the releases were underslot rat reds, but some were 30 plus inch reds. The pups were hungry and were hitting live baits and artificials. With this latest cooling, they should get even more aggressive.
Flounder were the hot inshore fish last week along much of the coast. Fishermen are finding flounder in the creeks and bays, plus near the inlets. Structure is a key for flounder, so donít overlook rip-rap, bulkheads and bridges. As mentioned earlier, there are also some nice flounder being caught at the nearshore artificial reefs and hardbottoms.
Events For the Military
The Peer Fishing Festival is a project of Operation North State (www.operationnorthstate.com), who also coordinates fresh water fishing events and tourneys for the Vets and Wounded Warriors across the Piedmont. There were several discussions about next yearís Peer Fishing Festival before this one had ended and I anticipate this will become a popular annual event. Operation North State is based in Winston-Salem and utilizes North Carolinaís people, places, products and pride to provide numerous military support services for the men and women currently serving or who have served in the armed forces.
Military Appreciation Day 9 Ė Southport is a smaller version of the Military Appreciation Day event held in Morehead City in the spring. It was originally scheduled for September 20 from Southport Marina in Southport, but was postponed until October 18 because of strong gusting winds. The winds were almost as tough on Saturday, but the fishermen and troops persevered. This is the ninth year of Military Appreciation Day and now there are the two events in N.C., plus one in Virginia and one in Delaware.
Military Appreciation Day volunteers include fishermen who take active duty troops fishing, plus others who handle the shoreside duties of registration, cooking, setup and takedown and even cleaning fish. The Military Appreciation Day organization (www.militaryappreciationday.org) is based in Charlotte and has local chapters where they host events. Military Appreciation Day is simply a day of saying thanks by taking members of the active duty military fishing. It is a day the troops and volunteers donít quickly forget.
I had Marines James Hainer and Jeremy Blanks aboard and was a little slow finding the fish, but finally did and we redeemed ourselves in the afternoon. It was good to see the smiles on their faces and have them getting into the fishing and forgetting other problems. Henrietta Minish from Southport was with me representing her son Christopher, who couldnít rearrange his schedule to return after the event was postponed, but insisted I take his boat as it is larger than my little boat and allowed taking another troop. I believe James and Jeremy had fun and I sure hope so. Henrietta and I had a real good time putting them on some fish!
NOAA Fisheries Extends Temporary
Catch Limits for Blueline Tilefish
Additional temporary measures include the prohibition of commercial and recreational harvest, in-season, if the sectors' catch limits are projected to be met. NOAA Fisheries closed commercial harvest of blueline tilefish on June 23, 2014, and will re-open the commercial sector on January 1, 2015. The recreational sector (excluding the headboat sector) has caught 27 percent of the blueline tilefish recreational catch limit from January through June 2014.
A population assessment completed in October 2013 determined that the blueline tilefish population in the South Atlantic is experiencing overfishing (fishing pressure too high). The SAFMC and NOAA Fisheries are working on regulations to end overfishing. While those regulations are being developed, the Council requested NOAA Fisheries take emergency action to reduce fishing pressure of blueline tilefish.
The SAFMC is proposing management changes to blueline tilefish through Amendment 32 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The amendment proposes changes to the catch limits and the implementation of commercial trip limits and recreational bag limits. The goal is to implement Amendment 32 before the temporary rule expires. More information may be found at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2014/acl_er/index.html.
This rule is administrative in nature and establishes new criteria for determining when red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, and greater amberjack are overfished. Establishing a new threshold for determining whether or not the above species are considered overfished is expected to prevent the need for restrictive management actions when reductions in the population are due to non-fishing related factors i.e., naturally occurring events such as weather or water temperature shifts.
Regulatory Amendment 21 redefines the minimum stock size threshold (MSST) for red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, and greater amberjack as 75 percent of spawning stock biomass at maximum sustainable yield (SSBMSY). The MSST is used to determine if a species is overfished. Redefining the MSST for these species will help prevent species from being designated as overfished when small drops in biomass are due to natural variation in recruitment or other environmental variables such as storms, and extreme water temperatures, and will ensure that rebuilding plans are applied to stocks only when truly appropriate.
The Framework Action and the final rule may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2014/reg_am21/index.html.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comments on a proposed rule to list Nassau grouper as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed rule filed in the Federal Register on September 2, 2014 (79 FR 51929). Currently, harvest and possession of Nassau grouper is prohibited in all U.S. waters, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, some countries have restrictions on harvest, including size limits and seasonal closures.
The proposed rule is based on key conclusions from a Biological Report and the Extinction Risk Analysis conducted by NOAA Fisheries. The results of the comprehensive status review are as follows:
(1) The species still occupies its historical range made up of a single population over a broad geographic area, (historical range means areas where Nassau grouper were typically found);
(2) The species possesses life history characteristics that increase vulnerability to harvest;
(3) The species forms large spawning aggregations, (spawning aggregations are areas where large numbers of fish come to reproduce); spawning aggregations are declining in size and number across the species' range;
(4) Current regulations and/or lack of law enforcement throughout the species' range are not effective in protecting Nassau grouper or their spawning aggregations;
(5) The combination of vulnerability to harvest, life history characteristics, and a lack of regulations and/or law enforcement indicate that the species is likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.
For more information on the listing process, please visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/protected_resources/listing_petitions/faqs/index.html.
Written comments on the proposed rule must be received by no later than December 31, 2014 to be considered by NOAA Fisheries. Electronic copies of the proposed rule may be obtained from the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov and NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office's website. The biological report is also available at the same webpage.
Comments may be submitted electronically by visiting the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov and entering docket number NOAA-NMFS-2012-0235 into "Search" box. Select the appropriate title, and click "Submit a Comment," which will display the comment web form. Attachments up to 10 MB will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
Comments may also be submitted by mail to: Jason Rueter Ė NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office Ė Protected Resources Division Ė 263 13th Avenue South Ė St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505.
Marine Fisheries Commission Seeks
In addition, the commission is seeking a commercial pound net fisherman to serve on the Sea Turtle Advisory Committee. Advisory committee applicants may not have had a significant fisheries violation within the past three years. Individuals interested in serving as an adviser should be willing to attend meetings at least once every two months and actively participate in the committee process, which includes reviewing scientific documents and issue papers to make recommendations on management strategies. Advisers will be reimbursed for travel and other expenses incurred in relation to their official duties.
The Marine Fisheries Commission chairman appoints members to these committees for three-year terms, and several terms will expire in January. Adviser applications are available online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/mfc-advisory-committees, at Division of Marine Fisheriesí offices or by calling 252-808-8022 or 800-682-2632. Applications should be returned by Nov. 1 to the Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557, Attention: Nancy Fish.
South Atlantic Fishery Management
Council Seeks Advisers
Advisory panel members include recreational and commercial fishermen, seafood dealers and processors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scientists, and concerned citizens. Advisory panel members are appointed by the Council and serve for three-year terms. Advisory panels generally meet once or twice each year and are compensated for travel and per diem expenses for all meetings.
Applications are being accepted through November 6, 2014 for the following positions:
* Coral Advisory Panel: (1) Coral Scientist;
* Dolphin Wahoo Advisory Panel: (1) NC Recreational; (1) NC Charter; (1) NC Commercial; (2) SC Recreational; (1) SC Charter; (1) SC Commercial/Dealer; (1) GA Recreational; (1) GA Charter; (2) FL Recreational; and (1) FL Charter;
* Habitat Advisory Panel: (2) SC Recreational; (1) SC Conservation; (1) GA Recreational; (1) FL Recreational; (1) FL Commercial; and (1) At-large Research;
* Mackerel Advisory Panel: (1) NC Commercial; (1) SC Recreational; (2) FL Recreational; (1) FL Charter; (3) FL Commercial; and (1) Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Seat;
* Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel: (2) Open NC Seats; (2) Open SC Seats; (1) Open GA Seat; and (1) Open NGO Seat;
* SEDAR (Southeast Data, Assessment and Review) Advisory Panel: (Pool) Open Seats. NOTE: Applicants appointed to the SEDAR Pool are eligible to serve on species-specific panels for future stock assessments.
Persons interested in serving as a member on the Council's advisory panels should contact Kim Iverson, SAFMC Public Information Officer, at Kim.Iverson@safmc.net or 843-571-4366 (Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10). Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact area Council representatives to discuss their interest in serving. Contact information for all Council members is available from the ďAbout UsĒ section of the SAFMC website or the SAFMC office.
Application forms are available from the SAFMC office and may be downloaded from the ďAdvisory PanelĒ page of the SAFMC website at www.safmc.net. Applications should be mailed to Kim Iverson, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405. Advisory panel members will be selected during the Council's December 1-5, 2014 meeting in New Bern.
October 28: N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission, Meeting to Solicit Public Comment on Proposed Rules, 6:00 P.M., DENR Regional Office, Washington, Contact Catherine Blum at 252-808-8014 or Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov.
October 29: N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission, Meeting to Solicit Public Comment on Proposed Rules, 6:00 P.M., DENR Regional Office, Wilmington, Contact Catherine Blum at 252-808-8014 or Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov.
Tournaments, Seminars, Club Meetings
September 1 to Dec 31: Chasiní Tails Outdoors Speckled Trout Challenge, Chasiní Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.
October 18 Ė November 29: Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament, Speckled trout, The Reel Outdoors, Emerald Isle, www.emeraldisle-nc.org.
October 22 to November 9: Martiniís Fall Hook-A-Hoo Rodeo, Wahoo, Multiple weigh stations Myrtle Beach, SC to Atlantic Beach, NC, www.hookahoo.com.
October 24 to 25: Cape Lookout Albacore Festival, False albacore, Anchorage Marina, Atlantic Beach, www.capelookoutalbacorefestival.com.
October 24 to 25: IFA Redfish Tour Championship, Redfish, Falgout Canal Marina, Houma, LA, www.ifatours.com.
October 24 to 26: NC Troopers Association Offshore Ė Inshore Saltwater Challenge, Multiple species, Jaycee Park, Morehead City, www.1042KMT.com.
October 25: All American Fall Flounder Tournament, Flounder, Wildlife Bait and Tackle, Southport, www.wildlifebaitandtackle.com.
October 25: Pamlico County Shrine Club Inshore Slam, Multiple species, Pamlico County Shrine Club, Grantsboro, 252-249-1786.
October 25: Cape Lookout Shootout King Mackerel Series Championship, King Mackerel, The Boat House, Beaufort, http://capeshootout.weebly.com.
November 1: Ed Sewell Memorial Speckled Trout Tournament, Speckled trout, Nancy-Lee Fishing Center, Swansboro,