Last week’s I was heralding the quick return of good fishing once Hurricane Sandy passed and several people found it amazing and wondered if it would just be a quick thing and end. It hasn’t ended yet, so I’m thinking it definitely wasn’t a fluke of nature. Looking back, I’m not really sure the inshore fishing actually slowed any as the storm was passing; fishermen just stayed inside to avoid the wind and rain. The fish sure seemed to be hungry and waiting as soon as fishermen were on the water again.
It was similar for the pier and surf fishermen too. Fishing was good as soon as they returned to the piers. Some fishermen were stuck on Portsmouth Island and were already catching fish before the ferry service resumed to get them off the island. Unfortunately some of the Outer Banks piers received serious damage and will be out of commission for a while.
King mackerel were beginning to move offshore and that may have been speeded up and exaggerated by the storm. Kings and most ocean fish that live beyond the surf move offshore to deeper water to ride out storms without having to constantly fight the surge of the waves. The wind kept fishermen at the dock most of the week, but fishermen in last weekend’s tournaments showed there were still kings around and the weekend weather is looking good.
Depending on exactly where you are, the water has cooled eight to ten degrees during the past week. It had to. When the nights drop into the forties regularly, with a foray or two into the thirties, and some of the days don’t make it back to the sixties, water temperatures will drop.
Thursday morning early someone reported on the internet the surf temperature was 59 degrees. The Carolinas Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System (RCOOS, www.carolinasrcoos.org) that I use for weather conditions and water temperatures wasn’t reporting along the Crystal Coast, but gave water temperature readings of 58 to 60 degrees along the southern N.C. Coast.
We were fortunate and escaped most of the effects of this week’s nor’easter that has dumped more rain and snow on the folks to our north. We got some winds and cold, but it wasn’t too bad. My favorite tropical and storm weather predictor, Mike’s Weather Page (www.mikesweatherpage.com or Mikes Weather Page on Facebook) was warning about this last week. Mike’s Weather Page also forecast Hurricane Sandy a week before it formed. I would recommend it as a place to look for adverse weather predictions.
NASCAR fans will like Mike’s site too as he is a race fan and offers a special website dedicated to race day weather. You can find Mike’s NASCAR weather forecast at www.racedayforecast.com.
The winds should be falling out by the time this is posted. It appears we will have a very nice fall weekend and fishing conditions should allow even the smaller boats to head offshore if they want. I hope to have good offshore reports for next week, rather than speculation.
This is Veteran’s Day Weekend. November 11 is Veteran’s Day, but Monday, Nov. 12, will be the observed holiday and many folks will have that day off. Please take time this weekend or Monday to show a veteran you care. Their sacrifices are what allow us to enjoy our freedoms and quality of life. There will be numerous events to honor veterans this weekend. One will be the Specks and Spots Kayak Fishing Tournament at Fort Fisher on Saturday and more details on it will follow.
The cooling water is helping some fishing and hurting others. One of the casualties is Spanish mackerel. We knew they were near leaving, but any caught after now will be rare. The Fall Brawl Tournament had a special prize for the largest Spanish last weekend and only one of 77 boats weighed one. I expect they are gone until next spring.
One of the good things about cooling water is it pushes the pinfish and other small bait thieves to the south and a live shrimp can survive a couple of minutes until a picky trout decides to eat it. Pompano and some of the other warmer water ground fish have begun moving south for the winter also.
Puppy drum and trout fishing have been excellent except for having to deal with the wind. The cooler water stimulates trout and drum to feed. This helps a lot with trout and is why suddenly more and larger trout are being caught. Speckled trout fishing had been improving for a while, but now is getting much better. The cooler water has the larger specks active and competing for food and that makes them easier to fool and catch.
Live shrimp in cool water are as close to a sure thing for trout as it ever gets. It is rare they refuse the tasty crustaceans. Check with the local tackle shops before heading out. Carrying several dozen live shrimp can sometimes make the difference between a good or great trip.
Once the specks begin competing for food, soft plastics and suspending baits also catch them well. My favorites right now are three inch Gulp shrimp in pearl, white, glow or new penny colors and MirrOlure 17 MR MirrOdine suspending lures in 50, 49, 11, 21, 26 and EC colors. The 17 MR series looks like small pogeys and they usually get hit pretty quickly.
Some specks are in the surf zone. There are red drum and a few flounder in the surf too. These fish are in the sloughs, just off the beach behind the breakers. Many people cast too far and miss them. Sometimes I have had them hit so close in I was about to lift the lure from the water and cast again.
Pier fishermen are having an interesting fall. There were a few more large drum caught last week and a couple of pushes of spots came through. The hot action for the past week has been red and black drum.
With the cooling water, the king mackerel bite has moved offshore. There are some kings off most of the inlets 20 or so miles. However, the best spots last weekend were those places just east of Frying Pan and Cape Lookout Shoals. Those should be the hot spots again and the calm winds this weekend should make the trip pretty comfortable.
The wind has been making grouper fishing difficult, but that should change this weekend also. The grouper are there and will bite, but fishermen in smaller boats are having trouble getting out to them and then it is difficult to keep a bait on the bottom and feel it. In addition to grouper, grunts, porgys and triggerfish can be kept. However, beeliners joined black sea bass on the closed season list on November 1 and we won’t be available to keep them again until April 1.
Wahoo have been biting when fishermen could get there, so there should be good reports over the weekend. They are patrolling the temperature breaks at the edge of the Gulf Stream. This has been a larger boats only trip for a while, but that should change this weekend.
Blackfin tuna are still around in good numbers and some moved a little closer in over the weekend. Several were caught by fishermen in the king mackerel tournaments. A few scattered dolphin and billfish are also being reported.
The N.C. Marine Fishery Commission (MFC) should be wrapping up their November meeting as this issue hits the newsstands. Their meeting began on Wednesday, Nov. 7. One of the primary topics for this meeting was to revise or amend the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan and Late Thursday afternoon I received a call saying they had voted 8-1 to amend the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan. This will require going back to the advisory committees and putting together a plan.
The Coastal Fishery Reform Group offered a five point plan that would still allow some inside trawling, but would have strict regulations trying to limit and preserve bycatch. It could be interesting as the MFC works through this under a new state administration.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comments on Amendment 18B for the Snapper Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic. This amendment pertains to management measures for the commercial longline sector of the golden tilefish fishery. For information on Amendment 18B, visit the NOAA Southeast Regional Office Web page at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/index.html, or view the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Web page at: www.safmc.net.
Comments will be accepted via electronic submission or mail. To submit comments via e-mail, visit http://www.regulations.gov and go to docket number NOAA-NMFS-2012-0177. Follow the instructions on the screen to submit a comment. To submit a comment by mail, address it to: Karla Gore, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5505. Comments must be received no later than December 26, 2012 to be considered by NOAA Fisheries.
The World Championship of Kayak Fishing is being held this week in Texas with teams from 13 countries competing. Different fishermen from the US Team have led at the ends of the first two days and the US Team is in good position to claim the win.
The Martini’s Fall Hook A Hoo Rodeo began on Nov. 2 and will continue until Nov. 17. Fishermen can fish one of the days during this time, which includes three weekends. Scales are located at South Harbor Village Marina in Southport and Motts Channel Seafood in Wrightsville Beach. The span of time is to allow fishermen to fish a good weather day around their work and family schedules. The Shriners’ Children’s Hospitals will receive all net proceeds from the tournament. The tournament website is updated each morning to show if any boats are fishing that day and results are updated each evening. For more information visit www.hookahoo.com.
King mackerel fishermen from Virginia to Texas are in Biloxi, Miss. this week. The Southern Kingfish Association Professional Kingfish Tour Championship was Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 6 and 7 and the Southern Kingfish Association National Championship Tournament will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9 and 10. Fishermen qualified for the National Championship by competing in divisional tournaments and many fishermen from North and South Carolina will be competing. Good luck and safe travels to all.
The SKA Professional Tour Championship has a North Carolina flavor despite being held in Mississippi. The fishing conditions were tough and Tar Heel anglers showed their stuff. An Alabama team, Intense, captained by Neal Foster, won the tournament, but North Carolina teams filled the top ten in second, third, sixth and eighth places. Team Wild Ride, captained by Randy Griffin of Hampstead, was second and Logan’s Run, captained by D. Logan of Wilmington was third. C-sick, with Capt. Bruce Brown and crew, was sixth and Hot Grits, with Capt. Ned Grady and crew was eighth.
The SKA Professional Tour overall was decided after the tournament and Intense’s win propelled them into the series win and SKA Angler of the Year Honors. The top N.C. team was Wild Ride in fifth place.
There are several tournaments scheduled for this week and weekend. The Friendly City Speckled Trout Tournament will be held Saturday, Nov. 10 from Casper’s Marina in Swansboro. For more information call 910-389-0607.
The Specks and Spots Kayak Fishing Tournament will be presented by the North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association at Fort Fisher on Saturday, Nov. 10. This tournament is based on the combined length of one speckled trout and one red drum and the proceeds will be donated to one of the organizations that provide fishing trips and equipment to veterans, servicemen and servicewomen. Fishermen will register on site at the Federal Point Launching Ramp between 0700 and 0800 and then fish from 0800 to 1500. For more information visit www.nckfa.com.
The Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Surf Fishing Tournaments began as scheduled on Nov. 7 and will fish through Nov. 10. There will be a team tournament followed by an open individual tournament. The Outer Banks is open for fishing. Highway 12 is closed between Oregon inlet and Rodanthe, but there is a ferry running from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe and fishermen can also access the island by ferry from either Cedar Island or Swan Quarter, by going to Ocracoke first and taking the smaller ferry across Hatteras Inlet. For more information visit www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.