Fishing conditions have been mixed this week, but fishing has been excellent.  The early weather forecast for the coming week has the wind and seas laying out and being reasonable for the weekend.  It looks like they will begin building again sometime late Sunday.  The full moon was Tuesday night and we are still seeing tides higher than normal.  The tide table shows the high tides staying around five feet for a few more days. 

Wahoo and king mackerel have been and are still on a tear.  Fishermen from off Cape Fear to Cape Hatteras are catching a bunch of wahoo and a quarter to a third of them are citation size (40 pound minimum) fish.  They are over the break at the edge of the Continental Shelf and some are still a little in from there and mixed with kings in 80 to 100 feet of water.  There have been a couple caught as shallow as 60 feet. 

There hasn't been a hundred pound 'hoo reported yet, but there was a 98 pounder caught off Carolina Beach and a 97 pounder caught off Hatteras.  The 98 pounder was 10 miles off the beach and ate 2 live baits intended for king mackerel.  There are blackfin tuna mixed with the wahoo and also a few dolphin and some late billfish.  I heard of a white marlin and a sailfish this week.

The king mackerel bite has been hot from below Cape Fear to Hatteras also.  The kings have been right in on the beach along the southern NC coast and have been being caught from the piers, by fishermen in kayaks and fishermen in boats.  A kayak fisherman limited out on kings off Oak Island last week. 

Offshore bottom fish are biting well.  There are grouper, beeliners, triggerfish, black sea bass, grunts, porgys and more.  Many of the black sea bass are still just a little short, but the number of keepers will increase as the water cools.  There is a possibility of limit increases on black sea bass.  Check the requests from the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council several paragraphs below.

Spanish mackerel and bluefish are responding well to small lures and jigs, especially near the inlets.  There have been schools of false albacore off Oak Island, Wrightsville Beach and Cape Lookout and it doesn't take long to know one of them has hit.  They really buzz a small reel.  This is really unusual with falsies off Oak Island.  They usually avoid there because of all the effluent running out the Cape Fear River.

Fishermen at Bogue Inlet Pier got a real treat this week when a humpback whale passed by just off the end of the pier.  Pier fishermen have enjoyed excellent catches for a couple of weeks and they don't appear to be slowing.  Flounder and drum have been the big catches along the Crystal Coast, while fishermen from Topsail to the south have been catching kings and big red drum from the pier ends. There have also been good catches of spots, sea mullet, pompano and more from the piers. 

There are trout on the east side of the stop nets along Bogue Banks, but don't be upset with the netters if they make a set while you are fishing.  It's their stop net that concentrated the fish.  Red drum, bluefish and flounder and whiting are also being caught in the surf.

Inside fishing is primarily red drum, black drum and speckled trout, but there are also a few flounder and some scattered sheepshead.  Moving current to carry bait is important for most of them.  Sheepshead will generally be around vertical structure and bridge pilings and bulkheads are good starting points to find them.

Live shrimp is a trout magnet.  Drum like them too and so do all the bait thieves still around.  When the water cools a little more, the bait thief numbers will drop and trout will be able to get to the baits easier.  Some folks like to fish live shrimp on jig heads or Carolina rigs, but I prefer to drift them under popping corks.

Spot reports seem to come and go.  They bite for a day or two and then take a day or two off.  Spots have been biting at the ocean piers and inside the inlets.  Several fishermen said the best spot bait is the synthetic bloodworms from FishBites. 

Time To Fall Back
Daylight savings time ends for 2015 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday morning, November 1.  I have heard a multitude of reasons why we have to switch back to Eastern Standard Time during the winter months, but none of them satisfy me.  I think we should adjust schedules to the available daytime hours and stay on Daylight Savings Time.  I don't know about anyone else, but it takes me a while to adjust to it being dark shortly after 5:00 P.M. - and I don't like it either.  I can handle springing forward in the spring, but it hurts to fall back in the fall.  Remember to set your clocks back before going to bed Saturday night.  At least we get an extra hour of sleep.  Computers and cell phones will reset themselves.

Tar Heel Fishermen Dominate Southern Kingfish Association Championship - Again 
I usually don't mention tournaments unless there is something special and I believe this qualifies.  The 2015 Southern Kingfish Association National Championship was held from the Crystal Coast Convention Center and Jaycee Park in Morehead City October 23 and 24.  Fishermen from across the southeast and Gulf Coast qualify for this tournament by competing in regional tournaments in their area.  Approximately 200 boats and more than 600 fishermen attended the tournament which is actually three tournaments.  There are separate championships for boats with a single engine, boats in a "Small Boat" class of up to 27 feet and the "Open Class" for boats of unlimited size and power.

When the SKA Championship was last held in Morehead City in 2000, there were two divisions, Small Boat and Open Boat, and Tar Heel fishing teams claimed both wins.  In 2015, there were three divisions, Small Boat, Open Boat and Single Engine Boat and North Carolina fishermen showed well again.  North Carolina fishing teams won the Small Boat and Single Engine Boat Divisions and placed second in the Open Boat Division.

The weather was very nice on the first day and fishing teams were spread from Topsail to Cape Hatteras.  Eventual Single Engine Division winners, Team Backlash, with Capt. Eris Jones, Arthur Hall and Craig Drye landed a 52.15 pound king that would hold to be the largest of the tournament.  However, this is an aggregate weight tournament, with teams weighing one fish each day and the total weight determining the winner.  The fishermen would have to do it again Saturday, and the sea conditions were forecast to take a change for the worse.

Saturday morning the conditions were significantly worse, with a strong northeast wind building seas.  Several teams elected to stay in the protected waters near Cape Lookout, but many teams decided to take the rough ride to the waters near Ocracoke, where much of the field had fished the first day.  Team Backlash made the long run and added a 38.23 pound king on Saturday to total 90.38 pounds and easily outdistanced the rest of the Single Engine Division. 

Reel Blessed, with Kevin Norris, Jordan Norris, David Jones and Curtis Trexel, weighed a 28.04 pound king Friday and hustled up a 42.53 pounder on Saturday to total 70.57 pounds and become the Small Boat Division Champions. 

The Reel Anarchy, with crew members Floyd Miller, Gill Strelec, Jr., Chase Strelec and Donnie Bennett made the trip to Morehead City from South Florida and will be returning home as the 2016 Open Boat Division Champions.  Reel Anarchy put together a 51.94 pound king on Friday and a 40.52 pounder on Saturday for a 92.46 pound aggregate to seal the win. 

Jacksonville, N.C. Team Animal House scored second place in the Open Boat Division with a 80.42 pound total and Spiced Rum III finished third with 79.45 pounds. North Carolina Teams swept the top three places in the Small Boat Division as Blew By U finished second with 69.39 pounds and Fin-Nagle came in third with 67.96 pounds.  Tar Heel fishermen also swept the top three spots in the Single Engine Division with the Major Bite in second place with 70.46 pounds and Anglers Envy finishing third with 66.07 pounds.

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Black Sea Bass Trap Prohibition
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement for Regulatory Amendment 16 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 16).

On October 23, 2013, fishery managers implemented an annual prohibition on the use of black sea bass pots from November 1 through April 30 in the South Atlantic.  Regulatory Amendment 16 contains management measures to modify this prohibition in terms of area and time closed.  The regulatory amendment also contains management actions to require specific rope marking for black sea bass pot gear.  The purpose of the proposed actions is to reduce the adverse socioeconomic impacts from the prohibition while continuing to protect whales in the South Atlantic region.

Electronic copies of the draft amendment and environmental impact statement are available on the NOAA Fisheries Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2013/reg_am16/index.html or the e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0165

Comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2013-0165, may be submitted through December 7, 2015.  Comments may be submitted by:
* Electronic Submission - Go to: www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0165 and click on the "Comment Now!" icon, then complete the required fields and enter or attach your comments.
* MAIL: Submit written comments to Rick DeVictor - Southeast Regional Office, NMFS - 263 13th Avenue South - St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

November Public Hearings Scheduled for Proposed Federal Fisheries Management Measures
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) is soliciting public input in November.  Commercial fishermen that target dolphin (fish) in federal waters along the Atlantic coast may be operating under a new commercial trip limit if measures proposed by the SAFMC are approved during its December 7-11, 2015 meeting in Atlantic Beach, NC.  The SAFMC is developing Regulatory Amendment 1 to the Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan (FMP) with trip limit alternatives designed to help extend the commercial season.

On June 30, 2015, the commercial dolphin fishery was closed for the first time ever when NOAA Fisheries projected the annual catch limit would be met.  Dolphin are managed from New England to the Florida Keys under the FMP, and the closure impacted the commercial fishery along the entire Atlantic coast.  The SAFMC approved measures in December 2014 to modify the allocation between commercial and recreational sectors, increasing the commercial allocation to 10% and the annual catch limit by 377,484 pounds.  NOAA Fisheries is currently reviewing the measures approved by the SAFMC.  As proposed, the trip limit would become effective once a designated portion of the commercial annual catch limit is reached.  Fishermen are being asked to provide their comments on various alternatives by participating in public hearings being held via webinar or by submitting written comments.

The SAFMC is also requesting public input on proposed management measures for blueline tilefish, yellowtail snapper and black sea bass in Regulatory Amendment 25 to the Snapper Grouper FMP.  New annual catch limits for blueline tilefish in the South Atlantic and other management parameters are being considered based on a new Acceptable Biological Catch of 224,100 pounds.  Changes to commercial trip limits and recreational bag limits for blueline tilefish are also being considered.  For yellowtail snapper, a species commonly targeted off the southeastern coast of Florida, the amendment includes alternatives to change the fishing year and modify accountability measures. 

The change in the current fishing year is being requested by fishermen in order to allow harvest during the winter season and have any closures that may occur due to meeting the annual catch limit coincide with the spring/summer spawning season.  The final action in Regulatory Amendment 25 would allow an increase in the current recreational bag limit for black sea bass of 5 fish per person per day.  Alternatives range from increasing the bag limit to 6 fish up to a total of 10 fish per person per day.  Once overfished, the stock was deemed rebuilt based on the 2013 stock assessment and the annual catch limit more than doubled.  The SAFMC is scheduled to approve measures in Regulatory Amendment 25 during its December meeting in Atlantic Beach, NC.

The public is encouraged to provide written comment and participate in upcoming public hearings scheduled via webinar with concurrent comment stations at various locations. The public hearings begin at 6:00 PM. See the schedule below for details.

* Monday, November 2, Question and Answer Webinar for Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 25.  Registration for the webinar is required.  Information is available from the Public Hearing and Scoping Meeting page of the SAFMC website.  Public Hearing Summary documents for each amendment and other materials will be posted by October 30, 2015.

Written comments may be submitted via mail, fax, and email and will be accepted until 5:00 PM on November 16, 2015. Instructions for submitting comments are available from the Public Hearing and Scoping Meeting page of the SAFMC website at www.safmc.net or by contacting the SAFMC office at 843/571-4366 or Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10.

 Public hearings will be held via webinar in conjunction with comment stations throughout the region beginning at 6:00 PM.  Stakeholders have two options for participating in the public hearings: Option1 - Participate via webinar or Option 2 - Participate in person at one of the designated comment stations in NC, SC, GA and FL. Registration is required for each webinar.  Webinar registration links are available from the Public Hearing and Scoping Meeting page of the SAFMC website.  SAFMC staff will be available one hour prior to each webinar to assist with setup if needed.  Call 843/571-4366 or Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10 for assistance.

Council staff will review the amendments via webinar beginning at 6:00 P.M. and local SAFMC members will be on hand at each comment station and tuned into the webinar.  Members of the public on the webinar and at the comment stations will then have an opportunity to go on record to provide comments for consideration by the Council.

The SAFMC November 2015 Public Hearing Webinar and Comment Station Schedule for N.C is:
* Thursday, November 12, 6:00 PM, Dolphin Wahoo Regulatory Amendment 1 and Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 25; Register at www.safmc.net.  The Comment Station will be in room 168 of the Dare County Government Complex in Manteo.

Fisheries Meetings
November 2 to 5:  Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 2015 Annual Meeting, World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort, St. Augustine, FL., www.asmfc.org/home/2015-Annual-Meeting

November 18 to 20:  N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Quarterly Business Meeting, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. - Public Meeting; Nov. 19 at 9 a.m. - Business Meeting; Nov. 20 at 8:30 a.m. - Business Meeting, Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, Contact Nancy Fish at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.      

Tournaments, Seminars, Boat/Fishing/Outdoor Shows, and Other Events
October 12 to 31:  Martini's Hook A Hoo Rodeo, Multiple Weigh Stations from Murrells Inlet, S.C. to Atlantic Beach, N.C., Fish your choice of 1 day, www.hookahoo.com.        

October 17 – November 28, 2015:  Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament, The Reel Outdoors, Emerald Isle, www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd

October 30 and 31:  US Open King Mackerel Tournament, Southport Marina, Southport, www.usopenkmt.com

October 31:  Pamlico County Shrine Club Speckled Trout Tournament, Pamlico County Shrine Club, www.sudanshriners.com/documents/PamlicoCo.TroutTournament11.pdf.   

November 5 - 7:  Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Team & Open Individual Invitational Surf Fishing Tournaments, Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, Buxton, www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.

November 6 to 8:  Topsail Surf and Pier Fishing Challenge, East Coast Sports, Surf City, www.fishermanspost.com

November 7:  Friendly City Speckled Trout Tournament, Casper's Marina, Swansboro, 910-389-0607.

November 14:  NC Kayak Fishing Association, Specks & Spots Tournament, Federal Point Wildlife Ramp, Fort Fisher, www.nckfa.com

November 14:  Carolina Redfish Series Championship, Chasin' Tails Outdoors, Atlantic Beach, http://pcflive.com/carolinaredfish.

This is Halloween Weekend and the trick is to treat yourself to some excellent fishing.
Good Fishing
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver


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