Weather has been a key factor for fishing this week and certainly will be over the weekend. Weíve gone from cold to setting new record high temps in several areas and are now waiting on a nasty cold front to slip across the coast Friday night. During this time the wind has been from calm to expectation of near gale force with this front. Iím pretty sure youíve heard it before, but welcome to eastern North Carolina. If you donít like the weather, just give it a few minutes and it will change.
The weather should settle out and be back to more normal fall weather during next week. I would advise undertaking any fishing with caution until then and always pay close attention to the local forecast. There are NOAA weather stations in Newport and Wilmington and we should use them. The links to them are www.weather.gov/mhx and www.weather.gov/ilm.
Switching back to Eastern Standard Time after months of Daylight Savings Time is always hard and will be more difficult this weekend. After it chills so much on Saturday, the sun setting early will be tough to handle for a week or so. Yep, this Saturday, November 1, is the night to turn your clocks back an hour. Weíre back on Eastern Standard Time beginning Sunday.
The one good thing about Daylight Savings Time ending is that oyster season has opened. Oyster season opened October 15 and several people have said they were pretty salty in spite of all the fresh water that flushed across them during the summer and early fall. Iíll know more next week as I will be enjoying a bushel or three during the cold over the weekend. An oyster roast is perfect for cold dreary weather Ė heck, an oyster roast is perfect for about any weather.
Last week I mentioned the cooling weather and water might push the king and Spanish mackerel off the beach and into their fall migration. Iím afraid that may be true for the kings. There have been a few kings caught in the last week from the piers at Oak Island, but there havenít been king reports from any of the other N.C. piers. Unfortunately, anything the little cold snap last weekend may have gotten started will probably expand with the cold front forecast to wrap us up this weekend.
Spanish macks held on in several places, including Bogue Inlet Pier, where good Spanish catches were reported several days. That also will most likely end with this weekendís cold front. Pier fishermen are catching spots and bluefish pretty well, plus spots, sea mullet, pompano, puppy drum, trout and more.
One unusual pier catch for last week wasnít local, but was close enough to deserve a mention. A surprised fisherman at Surf City Ocean Pier landed a bonefish. They are tropical waters fish that are rarely seen north of Miami. Another was caught on one of the Outer Banks piers during the summer.
The nasty cold front forecast for this weekend will affect our fishing. In addition to cold it will be windy. Any changes will be hard to take as going fishing is almost like going catching right now. That will probably change for at least a few days after the front passes. Some of the good fishing will return, but some of it probably wonít. This is a pretty significant front.
King and Spanish mackerel are Tar Heel favorites and while they may have moved off the beach, they have been biting well. There are still a few kings closer in at some of the popular nearshore rocks and reefs, but the best action from the past week has been farther offshore. There were some huge kings caught last weekend east of Cape Lookout. One tournament had a 60 pounder and two in the 50s for the top three fish. Another was won by a king weighing in the high 50s.
Most of the larger kings have been caught using live baits and pogies have been thick along the beaches and in the Intracoastal Waterway. They are also hitting frozen cigar minnows. A few cobia have been mixed with the kings.
Spanish have been just about everywhere along the beaches from Cape Lookout to the south. They may be found as shallow as about 12 feet and then out for several miles. Fishermen are catching limits using Clarkspoons and targeting citation Spanish (6 pounds minimum) using mullet minnows and small live menhaden.
False albacore continue to bite well around Cape Lookout, with a less bite of Wrightsville Beach. They donít usually react as quickly to cooling water and should continue to be there for a while. The alberts range from average to large and have been hitting almost any small flashy bait. The fish arenít spooky and it has been a great fall for fly fishermen.
Fishermen continue to catch flounder on the nearshore artificial reefs and wrecks. There are lots of other things that also like the finger mullet and other live baits many use for flounder. One fisherman said he was fishing one of the nearshore artificial reefs for flounder, but Spanish macks and bluefish kept eating his baits on the way down. Thatís only a problem when youíre fishing for something other than Spanish and blues.
There are also some nice gray trout on the artificial reefs. When gray trout begin feeding, they arenít real picky and will hit a lot of things. They will eat live baits, plus hit metal jigs and speck rigs. The minimum size is 12 inches, but you only get to keep one.
Those fishermen that took advantage of the nice sea conditions earlier in the week found some hungry fish waiting for them. The offshore bottom fish bite is on fire and itís a great way to put some fillets in the freezer for the winter. Offshore bottom catches include grouper, beeliners, triggerfish, black sea bass, grunts and more. There were even a few reports that included hog snapper and African pompano.
Some folks have tried to say the wahoo bite is slowing, but I donít think so. The front this weekend may affect them, but the catches over last weekend and earlier this week were good. There are two schools of thought regarding locating wahoo. One is to troll the edges of temperature breaks and color changes, while the other is to fish above underwater structure along the edge of the Continental Shelf. Both may be right as both have been putting fish in the fish box all fall. Offshore trollers are also catching some blackfin tuna, a few late dolphin and even an occasional billfish.
The cooling water is also making the inshore fish hungry. Flounder are feeding hard and if you find them they arenít bashful about gobbling your bait. Smaller flounder are bulking up to get ready for a cold winter without much food and larger flounder are bulking up for their trip to the ocean rocks, wrecks and artificial reefs where they will spend the winter. Most fishermen specifically targeting flounder are using live mullet and mud minnows on Carolina rigs, but they are also being caught pretty well on soft plastics, spinnerbaits, gold spoons and other lures that run on or near the bottom.
Flounder and puppy drum feed in similar places all year, but especially during the fall when the mullet and other minnows are leaving the marshes. Creek mouths and oyster rocks that break up the current are great places to find both. If you fish in the wider parts of the Intracoastal Waterway or the Cape Fear River, pups and flounder have been staging at the downcurrent ends of the spoil islands near the channel. Puppy drum will readily eat any of the live baits fished for flounder and flounder will strike many of the lures cast for puppy drum.
As the water cools, speckled trout are getting more and more active. Many fishermen prefer live shrimp for speckled trout and they usually eat them without any hesitation. However, several Marine Fishery and Sea Grant studies on speckled trout indicate there are more small fish than shrimp found in their stomachs. Some food for thought; small pogies are one of the fish found most often in trout stomachs.
I think suspending a live bait under a popping float and letting it drift with the current while occasionally popping it is a great way to catch specks. I donít know about anyone else, but after seeing those studies, Iíll probably take a little time to try and catch some small pogies when I head out trout fishing. Puppy drum also eat a lot of small pogies, so you should expect to catch some of them too, especially if you are trout fishing in shallower water.
I donít know what to say about spots this week. I have only seen a few pictures from the piers and while they are catching them, the coolers donít seem to be as full or also have a lot of other fish in them too. I havenít heard anything or seen pictures from any of the inshore locations that usually hold spots. I donít think theyíre gone yet, but they may be tapering off. Spot fishing can be a lot like catching when they are there and itís pretty simple too. If spots are around, a double drop bottom rig, baited with either bloodworms or Fishbites synthetic bloodworms, will catch them as fast as you want.
NOAA Weather Station 41013
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.
Fisheries Commission Seeks Advisers
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.
November 4: NC Marine Fisheries Commission, For-Hire Logbook Reporting Requirement Meeting, 6:00 P.M., N.C. DENR Regional Office, Wilmington. Contact Doug Mumford at 252-948-3876 or Doug.Mumford@ncdenr.gov or Chris Wilson at 252-948-3885 or Chris.Wilson@ncdenr.gov.
November 6: NC Marine Fisheries Commission, For-Hire Logbook Reporting Requirement Meeting, 6:00 P.M., NC DMF Central District Office, Morehead City, Contact Doug Mumford at 252-948-3876 or Doug.Mumford@ncdenr.gov or Chris Wilson at 252-948-3885 or Chris.Wilson@ncdenr.gov.
November 12: NC Marine Fisheries Commission, For-Hire Logbook Reporting Requirement Meeting, 6:00 P.M., Dare County Administrative Building, Manteo, Contact Doug Mumford at 252-948-3876 or Doug.Mumford@ncdenr.gov or Chris Wilson at 252-948-3885 or Chris.Wilson@ncdenr.gov.
November 19 to 21: NC Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting,
Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. - Public Meeting, Nov. 20 at 9 a.m. - Business Meeting, Nov. 21 at 8:30 a.m. - Business Meeting, Hilton Garden Inn, Kitty Hawk, Contact Nancy Fish at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.
Agendas for all public meetings are posted on the NC Division of Marine Fisheries website at www.ncdmf.net under the Public Meetings tag on the home page.
Tournaments, Seminars, Club Meetings and Events
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.
November 1: Ed Sewell Memorial Speckled Trout Tournament, Speckled trout, Nancy-Lee Fishing Center, Swansboro,
November 1: Flat Bottom Girls Flounder Tournament, Flounder (Live weigh-in required), Dockside Marina, Wrightsville Beach, www.fishfortomorrow.org.
November 6-8: Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Team and Individual Invitational Surf Fishing Tournaments, Multiple Species, Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, Buxton, www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.
November 8: NC Kayak Fishing Association Specks and Spots Kayak Fishing Tournament, Speckled trout and red drum, Federal Point Boating Access, Fort Fisher, www.nckfa.com.
November 8: Friendly City Speckled Trout Tournament, Speckled trout, Casperís Marina, Swansboro, 910-389-0607.