For almost a month we have been having these weeks when it gets cool, but warms back up into the high seventies and low eighties and it's been hard to tell if it was still summer or had finally become fall. Well, I believe that might have changed this week. It started with the real chill last Friday night and now we have seen daytime highs in the sixties for most of this week. We are also looking at a cool weekend and cooler temps for next week. Maybe fall has finally come?
The arrival of fall comes with a cost though. Thursday morning the NOAA Weather Center posted small craft advisories for the Crystal Coast through Monday and shows 15 -20 knot winds for most of the weekend along the southern coast. The winds will be from the north, so there is a little lee along the southern facing beaches and, with the report that follows and growing expectations, there will be folks fishing in most inland waters and in the nearshore ocean.
The water is finally cooling too. After holding in the 70s for weeks longer than usual, the water has finally dropped into the high 60s this week and shouldn't warm up again.
Capt. Noah Lynk (www.noahsarkfishingcharters.com) called this week to tell me the fishing was excellent and invite me for a trip to check it out. He fishes out of Harkers Island and said the specked trout were biting well, plus loads of puppy drum, some flounder, gray trout, bluefish and more. He said the fishing was good at Cape Lookout, around Middle Marsh and North River Marsh and in the North River.
Capt. Matt Lamb of Chasin' Tails Outdoors (www.chasintailsoutdoors.com) in Atlantic Beach also said the fall fishing was going off. He said the speckled trout bite had ramped up a little this week and they had weighed some big specks. The best example is the 8.37 pounder that Carl Edwards caught to take the lead in their Speckled Trout Challenge. Lamb said the sea mullet were biting at the Dead Tree Hole, gray trout were biting in the Turning Basin and red drum were biting at the Cape Lookout Jetty.
The best speckled trout bait is a live shrimp suspended under a cork. I like popping corks and rattling corks to help attract the specks, but many folks prefer to fish silently and catch trout well also. Other live baits that work for trout, but not quite as well, are mullet minnows, peanut pogies and small croakers, spots and pinfish. Once the water cools to the point the smaller fish are gone, specks will begin eating mud minnows.
On the artificial side, trout have shown a definite preference for MirrOlure MirrOdine lures in the MR 17 size. These are suspending lures that can be drifted with the tide and twitched occasionally. It is a very realistic presentation and the trout like it too. Curltail and paddletail grubs are local trout favorites for fishermen that prefer soft baits.
With the cooling water, king and Spanish mackerel have moved out from the beaches and pier fishermen are concentrating on other species and doing pretty well. Pier fishermen are catching flounder, speckled trout, puppy drum, spots, whiting, bluefish, and more. Spot fishing continues to be off and on, but has become more on than off. Fishermen who persevere through a few tide changes usually manage to catch a good mess. Generally the best action has been on the rising tide.
Spots are continuing to perplex the boat fishermen too. The bite may be strong one day and then slow the next. Spots have been caught in the Intracoastal Waterway from the Alligator River to Calabash.
The Intracoastal Waterway has been busy with yachts headed south for the winter and they need the depth of the channel to navigate. Fishermen should anchor out of the channel and cast over into it. Some of the better catches have been reported by fishermen using Fishbites and Blurp synthetic bloodworms. They are easier to use than bloodworms and the zip lock bags close and store in your tackle box until the next fishing trip.
The false albacore bite is on at Cape Lookout right now. These inshore cousins of tuna make long runs and fight very hard. They are not considered good table fare, so most are caught and released. Catching them is a lot of fun and they are a favorite of fly fishermen.
Excellent king mackerel fishing continues all along the N.C. Coast. Several very large kings have been reported but I haven't seen the pictures. They have moved out a little from the beaches, but many are still holding 5 to 15 miles off the beaches. Most fishermen prefer using live baits, but the action has also been good using frozen cigar minnows and ballyhoo.
The wahoo bite is good when the weather allows making the trip offshore and the results below from last weekend's Calcutta Wahoo Challenge bear this out. Some blackfin tuna are also mixed with the wahoo and are another pleasant addition to the dinner table.
I had an interesting trip Friday and think some readers might appreciate it. I was invited on a feral hog hunt along the Neuse River between Goldsboro and Smithfield. I met Freddie Stancil about ten years ago, shortly after he had discovered hogs on his property and he considered them a problem and wanted them gone. His efforts to remove them have proved futile, but he has grown to appreciate them and now considers them an extra attraction to compliment the deer hunting.
Feral hogs have taken over the flood plains of many river systems and are spreading across the state. The Neuse River floodplain between Raleigh and Goldsboro has one of the largest populations and there are even several hunting guides working this area. There are many explanations how feral hogs developed a stronghold in N.C. and the most believable is they are offspring from hogs that escaped the hog farms during the flooding associated with Hurricane Floyd in the late nineties.
Biologists tell us hogs are one of the most adaptable animals in the world and these have certainly adapted well. In just a couple of generations, they developed coarse hair, their snouts lengthened for grubbing and the boars are developing tusks. They must be adapting well as they are reproducing and increasing their range.
What I like best about feral hogs is the quality of the meat. There are no steroids and hormones added to what they eat and the meat is extremely lean. Smaller boars and sows to 150 pounds have excellent flavor. On Freddie Stancil's land they are even better as he runs deer feeders all year and the hogs have developed a fondness for corn.
Our hunt was successful as I bagged a nice 100 pound class sow. Three other hogs were with the sow I shot and another showed itself, but never gave me a good shot. This meat is being processed right now and I look forward to some tender pork chops and lots of sausage so lean you have to spray Pam in a frying pan and cook on low heat to keep it from sticking and burning. Yum!
The Secretary of Commerce approved Amendment 17A to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region last week. A final draft is being written and will be posted in the federal register soon. Amendment 17A indefinitely extends the red snapper closure and closes approximately 5,000 square miles of ocean between Georgia and central Florida to all bottom fishing.
NOAA Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. Amendment 17B establishes annual catch limits (ACLs), accountability measures (AMs) and Specifies Management measures to address overfishing for many species of snapper and grouper and prohibits harvest and retention of other species of snapper and grouper. Electronic copies of Amendment 17B may be obtained from the e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.safmc.net.
Written comments on this amendment must be received by November 22. Comments may be submitted electronically through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, http://www.regulations.gov, by entering ANOAA-NMFS-2010-0091" in the keyword search, then check the box labeled ASelect or by mail to Kate Michie--NOAA Fisheries Service--Southeast Regional Office--Sustainable Fisheries Division--263 13th Avenue South--St. Petersburg, Florida 33701 or by fax attention of Kate Michie at 727-824-5308.
Public hearings on Amendment 18A to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan were held last week. Written comments will be accepted until November 12, 2010 and can be sent via email to: SGAmend18AComments@safmc.net, or hard copies to: Robert K. Mahood, Executive Director, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405.
Amendment 18A primarily focuses on measures for the commercial golden tilefish and black sea bass fisheries to account for anticipated shifts to those fisheries as regulations become more restrictive for other snapper grouper species. The amendment also addresses methods to improve the accuracy, timing, and quantity of fisheries data for both commercial and for-hire fisheries. A summary of the Amendment 18A public hearings is to be posted on the Council's website at www.safmc.net.
The final N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission meeting for 2010 began Wednesday evening in New Bern and runs through today (Friday). The final draft of the Amendment to the Spotted Sea Trout Fishery Management Plan is to be voted on at this meeting. There is a controversy regarding this amended Fishery Management Plan as it does not meet the requirements of House Bill 1713, which became Session Law 2010-13, when signed by the Governor on June 23.
HB 1713 / SL 2010-13 requires any changes to existing fishery management plans or new fishery management plans must end overfishing within two years, return the fishery to sustainable status within ten years, and that the fishery management plan have at least a 50 per cent chance of meeting these goals. The Marine Fisheries Commission contends this plan was submitted to the legislature prior to HB 1713 becoming law and therefore the plan is not subject to the provisions of HB 1713. The Marine Fisheries Commission has asked the N.C. Legislature for a clarifying amendment to SL 2010-13 stating this. Many recreational fishermen contend the plan had not passed its final approval and therefore is subject the provisions of HB 1713.
The agenda also includes the initial discussion of the first amendment to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, which has been making the advisory committee rounds for the last two months. A report on the Military's proposed expansion of the BT 11 Bombing Rage is also scheduled. Times for public comments were scheduled at 6:00 P.M. Wednesday evening and again at 9:15 A.M. Thursday morning. These are some hot-button topics and this may well be the most interesting Marine Fisheries Commission meeting of the year. For more information on the meeting visit www.ncdmf.net or call 1-800-682-2632.
The Calcutta Wahoo Challenge that was originally scheduled for Oct. 13 to 16 in Morehead City was held from October 27 to 31. With the less than perfect weather forecast, Sunday was added as a fishing day to give participants another option. That was a good thing as no boats fished on Thursday or Friday. All 21 boats fished Saturday and most ventured forth in the gusty winds of Sunday also.
The Mattanza, with angler Marco Lavecchia and captained by Brooks Rans won the tournament with a 63.3 pound wahoo and added another 30.4 pounder to also top the aggregate category. Second place went to the Sensation, with angler J.D. Smith and Capt. Dale Britt who caught a 57.3 pounder. Capt. Mike Taylor led Weldors Ark angler Pasqual Jiminez to a 52.5 pound wahoo and third place.
As none of the boats fished Thursday or Friday, no daily awards were given for those days. The Saturday Daily Prize went to the Dancin' Outlaw, with Capt. Thomas Wood, for a 43.2 pounder and the Sunday Daily Prize was won by the Peggy, with Capt. Mike Guthrie with a 26.6 pound wahoo. Elizabeth Stewart caught a 43.8 pound wahoo while fishing with Capt. Adrian Hollar on the Sea Striker to claim Top Lady Angler Honors. Also on the Sea Striker, Nathan Watson caught a 44.7 pounder to win Top Junior Angler honors. For more information visit www.calcuttawahoo.com.
The Cape Fear Red Trout Tournament was held Oct 28 to 30 from the Blockade Runner Resort in Wrightsville Beach with 13 teams and 26 anglers competing. The tournament is an event to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and began with a gala dinner on Thursday night that was open to the public and had 125 attending. Tournament co-chair Adam Meyer said the Gala raised approximately $23,500 and they were hoping the final tally from all tournament activities would reach $50,000.
Fishing days were Friday and Saturday and Friday was as nasty as Saturday was nice. Even after falling overboard on Friday, getting his watch wet and missing the check in due to a temporary stopping of his watch, Capt. Rennie Clark, of Tournament Trail Charters, rebounded on Saturday and led Wilmington anglers George Brinson and Scotty Gould to dominate the tournament. They won the Team Champions, Grand Champion (Brinson), Runner-Up Champion (Gould), Spinning Division, Most Trout released (28) and Most Redfish Released (5).
The Largest Trout award went to John Pilon, Fayetteville, for a 22 incher he caught while fishing with Capt. Jamie Rushing. Keith Gallagher, Fayetteville, caught a 29 inch drum while fishing with Capt. John Huff and claimed the Largest Redfish award.
Liz Pitts, Wilmington, fished with Capt. Jot Owens and claimed Top Lady Angler Honors and won the Bait Division. Richard Sear, Hampstead, fished with Capt. Seth Vernon and won the Fly Division. Wrenn Millis, Wilmington, is only nine years old but fished with Capt. Phillip Thompson and caught seven fish to win Top Junior Angler honors. For more information visit www.capefearredtrout.com.
The Marshes Light King Mackerel Tournament was held this weekend from Marshes Light Marina in Manteo. First place was guaranteed at $10,000 and tensions were high as only 11 boats registered to try to claim it.
When fishing ended the fishermen realized the top two fish were close enough in size merely looking wouldn't separate them. The difference was only a half pound. The Ocean Isle Fishing Center Team, with Rube, Brant and Amy McMullan claimed the $10,000 prize with a king that weighed 41.90 pounds. Barry Guthrie, Harkers Island, and the Hooligan crew had to settle for second place with their 41.48 pound king. The N.C. Sportsman, with Ty Conti was third at 34.30 pounds. For more information visit www.marsheslight.com.
The 8th Annual Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament began Oct 23 and will run through December 4. It is being conducted by the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Department, with a weigh-in station at The Reel Outdoors. The tournament pays three places based on weight and there is also a mystery weight prize and prizes for the first and last fish weighed in. Lee Throckmorton is the current leader with an 18.4 inch trout that weighed 2.26 pounds. While the state minimum size for speckled trout is 14 inches, the tournament has a 15 inch minimum size. For more information visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd.
Several big tournaments are being held this week. The final tournament of the Yamaha Professional Kingfish Tour was to be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Fort Pierce, Florida. The top N.C. fisherman was Dean Spatholt and Crew of the Fish Meister in seventh place.
The Southern Kingfish Association National Championship Tournament is also scheduled for Fort Pierce, with fishing days of Friday and Saturday. The marine forecast there is about as bad as here and there is a possibility the event may be postponed. Many local fishermen are participating and I will have the results next week. For more information visit www.fishska.com.
The Oorah (Marines) Vs Hooah (Army) Wounded Warriors Battle is scheduled for Friday at Wrightsville Beach. This event has already been postponed once and is being threatened again by adverse weather. For this tournament, teams of Marines and Soldiers fish on local boats and combine points for a total score to claim bragging rights for the year. The tournament is a project conducted by Hope for the Warriors (www.hopeforthewarriors.org).
A rather unique flounder tournament will be held in Wrightsville Beach this weekend (Nov. 5 and 6). The Flat Bottom Girls Flounder Tournament, which will be held from the Dockside Restaurant, requires fishermen bring in their flounder alive. The flounder are then used for brood stock in several flounder hatcheries and nurseries. The tournament benefits the aquaculture programs at UNC-W, NC State University and South Brunswick High School. The fishing day is Saturday, Oct. 6. For more information visit www.fishfortomorrow.org.
The 53rd Annual Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Team and Open Individual Invitational Surf Fishing Tournaments began on Thursday at Buxton and will continue through Saturday. Surf fishermen from all along the east coast have gathered to test their skills in the waters around the famous cape. For more information visit www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.
Don't forget to set your clock back an hour Saturday night before going to bed. This is the end of Daylight Savings Time for 2010 and while it will get dark an hour earlier, it will also get light an hour earlier.