I hate to be the one to remind you, but someone has to. Don't hate me for being the messenger, but this is the weekend Daylight Savings Time ends. Yep, Saturday night we set our clocks back an hour. Just the opposite of setting them ahead in the spring, this means the sun will rise earlier, but, unfortunately, it will set earlier too.
Several fishermen justified the good fishing, when so many conditions said it should be otherwise, by saying it was the right combination of lots of bait and hungry fish and the conditions didn't matter that much. Even though we're in November now, with no big weather changes looming, the fishing should stay good for a while. Maybe things are just running several weeks behind?
While it has been improving, the water quality still isn't good. However, most folks have accepted that and are going fishing anyway. It took a while to sink in, but there are hungry fish in the stained and dirty water - get out and take advantage of it.
The ocean action begins from the surf and piers and goes to the Gulf Stream. There have been kings caught from the piers this week from Topsail south to South Carolina. Big red drum are biting for pier fishermen on the Outer Banks and from Topsail south. Bogue Inlet Pier fishermen have been catching a good number of false albacore and kings and big drum feed in the same conditions, so they could fire off at Bogue Banks any time.
Pier fishermen closer to the beach caught a mixture of bottom fish that included trout, flounder black drum, puppy drum, and a few sea mullet. There were also several runs of spots, but they haven't been consistent. Pluggers are catching false albacore and bluefish and there were some Spanish macks reported at Oceanana Pier early in the week.
Surf fishermen are catching fish, but I haven't heard any really strong reports. The mixture includes puppy drum, black drum, flounder, speckled trout and a few sea mullet. The thought is that when the water cools a few more degrees there will be more sea mullet and gray trout.
Fat Alberts are favorites of fly fishermen and they have been biting well from Atlantic beach to Cape Lookout and off Wrightsville Beach for a while now. Last week there was a run of them off Oak Island, which rarely happens. Even better, it doesn't show any signs of slowing. The small tuna are in roving schools that terrorize glass minnows and give their location away by crashing the water or attracting hungry seagulls seeking to cash in on the carnage. Small flashy lures retrieved or trolled quickly will catch fat Alberts.
The king mackerel bite is hot! As noted earlier, the action begins as close as the piers in some areas. Jonathan Grady, a kayak fisherman from Fayetteville, caught a 38.5 pounder a few hundred feet off the beach at Oak Island Last Saturday and it is being touted as the "unofficial state record for kayak caught king mackerel."
There were a few wahoo mixed with the kings in places this week and all were citation size (40 pound minimum) fish. Turn about must really be fair play as several fishermen also caught kings while at the break trolling for wahoo and blackfins. The nearshore kings showed a preference for live bait, but once beyond 60 or so feet deep they would hit frozen baits almost as readily.
Offshore bottom fishing continues to be very good. Several folks reported jigging a bunch of black sea bass in 50-60 feet of water over the weekend. The ratio of keepers in the catch was really low, but they were aggressive and biting. The best bottom action begins at about 80 feet deep and continues offshore. Once you locate them, most offshore bottom fish are usually hungry and ready to bite. The catch is mixed and includes grouper, snapper, black sea bass, beeliners, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, and more.
The offshore action continues to be really good. Wahoo are the main fish in the catch. Many of the wahoo have been citation size (40 pounds minimum) and there have been a few logs that push the scales into the 80s. Wahoo can burn line off a reel like nothing else and make you really work to get them in. The nice white fillets make it all worthwhile and there are a lot of fillets in a 50 pounder.
There are also blackfin tuna roaming the edge of the Gulf Stream, plus a few late dolphin. Yellowfin tuna are biting too, with a few being caught around the Big Rock and the action improving heading past the Rock Pile and Point up to off Oregon Inlet. Sailfish were moving past Cape Lookout last week. Capt. Mike Webb on the Pelagic said they had shots at sails almost every trip and released five one day last week.
Several fishermen said the inside water wasn't as dirty over the weekend as it has been. Hopefully the big push of rainwater runoff after Hurricane Matthew has made its way to the ocean and the downstream flow will begin to subside. We are fortunate that this hasn't disrupted our fall fishing much more than it has. Almost every fisherman I speak with is pleasantly surprised with the quality of our inshore fishing, especially considering the amount of rain the hurricane brought.
Everyone is talking about trout and there have been many excellent catches of 2 to 4 pounders, with enough citation specks (5 pounds minimum) mixed in to keep fishermen on their toes. While the catches have been good, there have also been an abundance of stories about the one that got away. Trout grow quickly and many of the several pound trout are the ones that were released last year for being a little short.
Puppy drum are biting well too. They move around more than the trout, but often come back to where they found food on the same stage of the tide. Generally that calculates into being an hour later each day.
Flounder numbers are dropping some from earlier in the fall, but there are more keeper flounder in the catch. Some flounder will hunker down in the mud and stay in the creeks all winter, while others will head offshore. Around the inlets is a good place to catch flounder right now as those that will head offshore are beginning their trek.
Fishing has been better up in the creeks and smaller rivers out of the main flow of the runoff headed downstream after Hurricane Matthew. However, the water is clearing and fish are moving back out to the creek mouths and dispersing through the marshes.
The methods for catching are still the same. Live baits suspended under floats is the hot ticket for specks and pups. Flounder like live baits fished on or very near the bottom and pups will hit these too. All will also hit artificials and for several days this week the trout have been whacking topwaters.
Most fishermen will have good luck fishing soft plastics. The key is to fish them slow enough to feel them bounce off the bottom occasionally. I like shrimp shapes, but the fish will also hit minnow shapes with paddletails and curltails. Scented lures, or lures with scent added, also attract fish and give them another way to help locate the lure in dirty water.
Hard lures catch well at times, as has been the case this week with topwaters. With the water still off color a little and not clear, I prefer suspended hard baits with rattles. The rattle also helps fish find them. It doesn't hurt to add a little scent to hard lures too.
There hasn't been a good spot run yet, but many fishermen are trying. There have been a few days they bit at the ocean piers, but it hasn't been really good yet. There has also been a little action at most of the popular inside locations to catch spots. There was a huge crowd along the channel in the Intracoastal Waterway at the Emerald Isle Bridge this weekend.
There are still sheepshead in the Morehead City area - and probably elsewhere too. Joshua Relyea caught a huge 11.90 pounder last week at the Morehead City State Port. Sandfiddlers and sea urchins are the best sheepshead baits.
Flounder Season Has Not Closed
Feds Propose New Cobia Regulations in Hope of Avoiding Closure During 2017
The new federal regulations allow 1 fish per person up to a maximum of 6 per boat, with a 36 inch fork length (tip of lower jaw to middle of fork in tail) minimum size.
North Carolina currently has more restrictive regulations and the Marine Fisheries Commission will have to decide to stay with the current N.C. regulations or change the lesser limits and larger minimum size to meet the federal regulations. If N.C. stays with the current regulations, they will in effect become the regulations for federal waters off N.C. also as fish must be landed at ramps and marinas in N.C. waters. Information on N.C. regulations can be found at www.ncdmf.net and information on federal regulations can be found at www.safmc.net.
The SAFMC held a webinar on the new cobia regulations on October 25. Those who missed the webinar may submit written comments by using the online public comment form, mail, or fax. The amendment materials are posted to the website and comments must be received by 5:00 P.M. on November 15, 2016.
There is an online public comment form at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf2M4xv4fu3OZdOGLon1xbZZ8Zw8rL8v-CSENu-EKgWsxeSOw/viewform?c=0&w=1. Comments with letterhead, graphics, images and the like must be mailed or faxed to Gregg Waugh, Executive Director, SAFMC, at 843-769-4520 or mail to Gregg Waugh, Executive Director, SAFMC, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405.
NC Wildlife Resources Commission and N.C. Aquariums Host Ongoing Fishing
The North Carolina Aquariums offer fishing and other outdoor programs through their aquariums and Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head. The Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium is local and others are at Fort Fisher and Manteo. For more information on the Aquariums and their programs, visit www.ncaquariums.com and select your preferred location.
NC WRC And DU Offer Free Duck Hunting Seminars
Dates and locations are:
“Similar to the turkey hunting, deer hunting and deer processing seminars we’re offering this year, these waterfowl seminars are designed to serve the growing interest in the great waterfowl hunting opportunities our state offers,” said Walter “Deet” James, the Commission’s hunting heritage biologist.
Justin Aycock, the N.C. youth and education coordinator for the North Carolina Chapter of Ducks Unlimited said, "The seminars also provide a forum for Ducks Unlimited to promote its Sportsmen for Tomorrow program which promotes youth involvement in the outdoors and conservation. These seminars will engage a new generation of sportsmen, so that we can pass on the waterfowl hunting and conservation tradition.”
For more information on the seminars, contact James at 919-707-0059 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Ducks Unlimited and their mission to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl, visit www.ducks.org.
Catch the Right Fish and Win a Truck
November 16-18: N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting, Hilton Garden Inn, Kitty Hawk, Contact Nancy Fish at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.
December 5-9: South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, DoubleTree by Hilton Atlantic Beach Oceanfront, www.safmc.net.
Tournaments, Seminars, Boat/Fishing/Outdoor Shows, and Other Events
September 10 to December 3: Tex's Tackle Trout and Flounder Tournament, Tex's Tackle, Wilmington, www.texstackle.com.
October 8-November 6: Hook a Hoo Rodeo, Multiple weigh stations from Atlantic Beach to Murrells Inlet, S.C., www.hookahoo.com.
October 16-January 31: Intracoastal Angler Speckled Trout Tournament, Intracoastal Angler, Wilmington, www.intracoastalangler.com.
October 17-November 28: Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament, Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation, Weigh at Reel Outdoors, www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd.
November 2-5: Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Team & Open Invitational Surf Tournaments, Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, Buxton, www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.
November 5: CCA-NC Inshore Open Fishing Tournament, The Boathouse, Beaufort, www.ccanc.org.
November 5: Ed Sewell Memorial Trout Tournament, Swansboro Yacht Club, Swansboro, 910-459-2258. This tournament has been cancelled.
November 5-6: Topsail Island Fall Surf and Pier Fishing Challenge, Topsail Island, www.fishermanspost.com.
November 11-12: Southern Kingfish Association National Championship, City Marina, Fort Pierce, FL., www.fishska.com.
November 12: Friendly City Speckled Trout Tournament, Casper's Marina, Swansboro, 910-389-0607.
November 12: Specks and Spots Kayak Fishing Tournament, Federal Point Wildlife Ramp, Fort Fisher, www.nckfa.com.
November 19-20: Cape Lookout Shootout King Mackerel Series Championship, The Boathouse, Beaufort, www.capeshootout.weebly.com.