Our year of odd weather continues. After last weekend was cold enough to put the frost on pumpkins in many places the weather warmed and the wind laid out for most of the week. However, beginning Thursday night there is a weather system that includes small craft advisories targeting the N.C. Coast through Sunday, with another severe cooling beginning Sunday but only lasting a couple of days. When the temperature bounces between 40 and 80 it confuses the fish and fishermen.
The fish weathered the cold of last weekend well and bounced back this week hungrier than before. With a little luck, they will do this again next week.
While the National Hurricane Center isnít currently watching anything in the tropics, Mikeís Weather page has been following some disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico for a few days just in case they find a way to intensify. You can monitor this yourself at the National Hurricane Center website (www.nhc.noaa.gov) and Mikeís Weather Page website (www.spaghettimodels.com). Mikes Weather Page is also on Facebook.
Friday is the first of November and that brings good and bad things. Starting with the bad Ė Daylight Savings time for 2013 will end at 2:00 A.M. on Sunday morning, November 3, so set your clocks back an hour when you head to bed Saturday night. While Iíll like having daylight earlier in the morning, Iíll hate losing that hour in the afternoon even a little more.
Last weekís cold front affected fishing, but except for the wind it was a positive change. The inshore fish shut down a little the first cold day, but began biting again on Friday and have been chewing since. We were all hoping, but I donít think anyone thought how strong that change would make the bite. This week fishing has been good from the back of the marshes to the Gulf Stream.
Inshore fishing has been excellent this week. The numbers of flounder are dropping some, but the numbers of puppy drum and specks are increasing and more than make up for it. The cooler water has probably pushed flounder towards the inlets a little quicker.
Finger mullet and shrimp are becoming more difficult to find in the creeks and marshes and that should make the fish become even more aggressive about hitting them. Specks like shrimp, reds will gobble shrimp or finger mullet and flounder have a preference for finger mullet or small pogies. It is usually worth the time and effort to find some or spend some money at the tackle shop and take them with you.
Specks, pups and flounder will also hit artificials and that will get better as the water cools and bait disappears. Soft plastics are the most versatile and will catch all three, plus black drum and more. Scented soft plastics or adding scent often helps too. I prefer shrimp shapes, but also fish some paddle tails and flukes.
Specks and reds have been hitting hard lures too. The explosive strike of a redfish hitting a topwater lure has to be experienced to be appreciated. Trout are a little more subtle, but hit topwaters also. Right now the water temperature is about right for suspending lures. These are hard lures that sink to a foot or two and stay at that depth. Most lure company make suspending lures, but Iím the most familiar with the MirrOdine family from MirrOlure. These lures are shaped like small pogies and are deadly. I like the MR 17 size, which looks small, but catches large.
If I sound like a broken record talking about fishing creek mouths during the falling tide, Please understand Iím repeating it because it is important. Baitfish and shrimp move up smaller creeks to get out of open water when the tide is at higher stages and they have to come out when the tide falls. Almost all coastal creeks and marshes are good places to catch specks and pups right now. There are also a few flounder still in them, but many flounder spend the winter in the ocean and they are slowly moving that way.
Moving back to the ocean, there were Spanish mackerel around the inlets and artificial reefs and they were all feeding. There were also some bluefish in these areas and some gray trout and flounder around the artificial reefs.
False albacore fishing has been on fire again this week off Bogue and Shackleford Banks. Even several surf fishermen had encounters with the stubborn footballs and there were a surprising number caught from Bogue Inlet Pier. Whether fishing spin or fly, a small shiny lure retrieved quickly was an invitation for a tussle.
Red drum are in the surf from Bear Inlet to Cape Lookout, then again off Lea and Hutaff Islands just south of Topsail. Some days they will hit topwaters and that is something that has to be experienced to be appreciated. Soft plastics, especially scented ones, are a great "go-to" bait and can be used with heavier jig heads to increase casting distance.
Large red drum have moved back onto the artificial reefs off Brunswick County. They are also shadowing schools of pogies just off the beaches. Their favorite bait is a struggling pogie.
King mackerel are biting well also, but the concentration had moved off the beach a little. The schools of kings begin at those rocks and wrecks in roughly 60 feet of water and extend offshore. Some larger kings are being caught east of Cape Lookout up to Cape Hatteras. One of the largest last week was the 52 pounder Capt. Jimmy DuPree and his crew on the OBX Girl caught last Sunday to win the N.C. State Troopers Tournament out of Morehead City. The kings seem to prefer live baits, but are also readily eating frozen cigar minnows.
Last week a lot of cobia were mixed with the kings around Cape Lookout, but that action has slowed. Fishermen are still catching a few wahoo mixed with the kings at some of the spots that are around 100 feet deep. When a wahoo takes a bait intended for a king, he usually letís you know what it is on the first run. Not many kings can buzz a TLD 15 like a wahoo.
Offshore bottom fishing is still good whenever the sea conditions allow making the trip. Some grouper, grunts and black sea bass are being caught as shallow as 50 to 60 feet, but the more consistent catches are deeper at around 100 feet and out. Bottom bouncers are catching a mixture from black sea bass, grunts and porgies, to grouper, beeliners and triggerfish. Bottom fishermen off Cape Fear caught a few hog snappers and African Pompano.
The wahoo bite remains wide open. They are the fish making fishermen head to the Gulf Stream and they are biting well, with a lot of citation fish (40 pound minimum). The offshore trollers are also catching some blackfin tuna, a few dolphin and an occasional sailfish that hung around after the water began cooling.
Pier fishermen are staying busy this week catching a mixture of fish. I donít know which has been more surprising, the number of puppy drum and false albacore caught at Bogue Inlet Pier or the bonefish caught on a spot rig from Sea View Pier at North Topsail. There were a couple of kings caught from the piers a little south at Topsail and Carolina Beaches, but most local king fishermen are concerned last weekís cold snap has pushed all but a few straggler kings away from the beach.
The pier catch has also included a few Spanish macks and bluefish, flounder, black drum, trout, sea mullet and a few spots. The spot catch tried to pick up a few times, but just hasnít yet and now the surf has warmed to 70 degrees again. Fishermen are still looking for a good spot run and maybe it will begin this week when the temperatures drop again.
Mary Lee and Lydia, the tagged great white sharks that have visited The Carolina Coast several times over the past year have moved in opposite directions. After spending a couple of weeks in early October between Cape Lookout and the Virginia state line, Lydia headed off to the north and has been from Continental Shelf to the coast and back out again off Newfoundland during the past week.
Mary Lee, who is older and may appreciate warm water, began moving south about 10 days ago and spent a few days around Cape Fear before heading farther south early in the week. Her last few tracking pings have been 20 to 30 miles offshore of Hunting Island State Park in Southern. S.C. You can follow the travels of Mary Lee, Lydia, and other sharks around the world by visiting www.ocearch.org and opening the shark tracker.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is seeking public comments on issues they would like to see addressed in an upcoming amendment to the stateís hard clam and oyster fishery management plans. DMF is also looking for commercial and recreational fishermen and scientists to serve on a Hard Clam and Oyster Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee.
Individuals interested in serving on these advisory committees should have backgrounds in one or more of the following areas:
* Commercial harvesters using mechanical methods;
* Commercial harvesters using hand methods;
* Shellfish leaseholders and shellfish Aquaculture Operation Permit holders;
* Recreational harvesters and Under Dock Oyster Culture Permit holders;
* Clam and oyster dealers; and
* Scientists with expertise in clam and oyster biology and shell bottom habitats.
Individuals interested in serving as an adviser may not have had a significant fisheries violation in the past three years, plus should be willing to attend meetings at least once a month and participate in the committee process, which includes reviewing scientific documents and issue papers to make recommendations on management strategies. These are volunteer committees and there is no compensation except that advisors will be reimbursed for travel and other expenses incurred in relation to their official duties.
Applications are available online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/mfc-advisory-committees or at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheriesí offices or by calling 252-808-8022 or 800-682-2632. Applications must be returned by Nov. 15 to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557, Attention: Lauren Morris or to Lauren.Morris@ncdenr.gov.
DMF is beginning a mandated five-year review of the stateís hard clam and oyster fishery management plans that were adopted by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission in 2008. It is anticipated that amending both plans will be necessary as management issues concerning harvesting with mechanical gear and administration of the shellfish lease program have already been identified.
Written comments will be accepted until Nov. 15 and should be addressed to Tina Moore or Mike Marshall, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557 or sent by email to Tina.Moore@ncdenr.gov or Mike.Marshall@ncdenr.gov.
The Marine Fisheries Commission will meet November 13 to 15 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Atlantic Beach. There will be times for public comment during the evening on November 13 and again in the morning on November 14. An agenda will be posted on the Marine Fisheries website at www.ncdmf.net.
NOAA Fisheries is also seeking public comments on Amendment 27 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The Notice of Availability for Amendment 27 published in the Federal Register on September 18, 2013, (78 FR 57337). Amendment 27 Contains the Following Actions:
* Extending the South Atlantic Councilís management responsibility for Nassau grouper to include the Gulf of Mexico.
* Increasing the number of allowable crew members on dual permitted vessels (vessels that have both a federal South Atlantic Charter/Headboat Permit for Snapper-Grouper and a South Atlantic Unlimited or 225-Pound Snapper-Grouper Permit) from three to four crew members.
* Allowing captains and crew of for-hire vessels with federal South Atlantic Charter/Headboat Snapper-Grouper Permits to retain bag limit quantities of all snapper-grouper species.
* Allowing routine changes of catch limits to be modified quickly through an abbreviated process.
* Removing blue runner from the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region.
Copies of Amendment 27 may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2013/am27/index.html or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Councilís Web site at www.safmc.net.
Comments on Amendment 27 must be received no later than November 18, 2013.
Comments may be submitted electronically via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0085 and click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments, or by mail to NOAA Fisheries Ė Southeast Regional Office Ė Sustainable Fisheries Division, c/o Kate Michie, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments. Attachments to electronic comments will only be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats.
Several N.C. fishermen headed to Houma, Louisiana last week for the Inshore Fishing Association Redfish Tour Championship On October 25 and 26 and one team returned with a little hardware and some cash. Congratulations to the father-son Chasiní Tails Outdoors team of Capt. Matt and Ray Lamb from Atlantic Beach. They finished 14th in the tournament and that was good enough to lock up Team of the Year Honors for the IFA Atlantic Division. Congratulations to them and the other N.C. teams that competed. For more information visit www.redfishtour.com.
The Ed Sewell Speckled Trout Tournament will be held November 2 from Casperís Marina in Swansboro. For more information contact Chris Sewell at 910- 459-2257.
The Flat Bottom Girls Flounder Tournament will be held from Dockside Marina in Wrightsville beach on November 2. This tournament requires flounder to be brought in alive and benefits Fish for Tomorrow and the aquaculture programs at UNCW, NCSU and South Brunswick High School. For more information visit www.fishfortomorrow.org.
The Southern Kingfish Association Pro Tour Championship will be held November 4 to 6 from the Golden Nugget Casino and Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi. Several N.C. teams will be in attendance and usually do well. For more information visit www.fishska.com.
The 56th Annual Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament will be held November 6 to 9 from the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club in Buxton. For more information visit www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.
The Southern Kingfish Association National Championship will be held November 7 to 10 from the Golden Nugget Casino and Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi. Numerous N.C. teams will be in attendance and usually do well. In fact, N.C. teams own more SKA championships than fishermen from any other state. For more information visit www.fishska.com.
The Specks and Spots Kayak Fishing Tournament will be held November 9 from the Federal Point Wildlife Ramp at Fort Fisher. This tournament targets speckled trout and red drum in a CPR (catch, photograph and release) format and is based on the longest combined length of one of each. For more information visit www.nckfa.com.
The Swansboro Friendly City Speckled Trout Tournament, presented by the Swansboro Century Club, will be held November 9 from Casperís Marina in Swansboro. For more information call Mike Gilhart at 910-389-0607.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver