We might have a little less wind to begin and end this weekend, but several weathermen are mentioning the "S" word to go with the blustery cold winds on Saturday. They say the front that will be pushing up the coast may coincide with some cold air just right for us to see snow. Most of us don't expect it, but we can remember there was one white Christmas in the area about 20 years ago and it was spawned by the same set of circumstances--just a little colder weather.
Yep, we'll probably only get rain. And after being in some stage of drought for more than two years, we have surged back to the wet side of average with a vengeance. I hope this weather system is a little milder than the forecast as some have been in the past few weeks. If it isn't too bad we might get in some more fishing before Christmas. I don't know about y'all, but I can stand a little rain and I can stand a little wind, but I have a real low tolerance for wind and rain together.
It took a while for our water temps to fall into the 50s this year, but they are there now and I don't expect them to warm again until April. Many fish species have moved on in the cooling water, but there are still some around. The piers are closed, but some season ticket holders have keys to the gates and they are reporting some bluefish, black drum, red drum, sea mullet and a few small specks.
These fish may also be available to surf fishermen. Any jetty or inlet is usually a good place to begin.
Our trout fishing has basically been good, but with many small specks. The reports are still for lots of mixed sizes in the marshes but some larger trout have moved back to the Cape Lookout Jetty and the Masonboro Inlet Jetties. Live shrimp is definitely the best bait, but the specks are hitting MirrOlures and scented soft baits well also. The new leader of the Chasin' Tails Tournament hit a three inch, Berkley Gulp Shrimp in new penny color.
Puppy drum are also still holding in the marshes, plus in the ocean along the beaches. Schools of several hundred drum have been spotted in the surf along Bear Island at Swansboro. Soft plastics and MirrOlures have both been producing well.
Bluefin season is officially on. The few fish of last week have given way to more and the action appears to be continuing to heat up. Some have been seen as close as just off the Beaufort Inlet Sea Buoy, but the best action has been around the Northwest Places and Big 10 over to the Knuckle Buoy or a little closer in around the Shad Boat.
Several bluefin were hooked, but none landed yet, this week by a small group of boats fishing off Cape Fear.
The far offshore bite has been pretty good when the weather allowed getting there. This week some wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin and a few late sailfish were caught off Cape Lookout. The yellowfin bite from Cape Hatteras to Oregon Inlet has been excellent with some bigeyes and juvenile bluefins mixed in also. Monday and Tuesday the king bite off Hatteras was excellent.
Bad news just keeps on coming from our national fisheries managers. Last week they announced a total closure of red snapper fishing for at least six months and this week they have announced the closure of the commercial black sea bass season from December 20 through June 1, 2010. This closure is from Cape Hatteras to Key West. The black sea bass fishery north of Cape Hatteras has already been closed. The reason for this closure is the quota has been caught.
Word is spreading of a "Fishermen's March on Washington D.C." to show opposition to the increasingly harsh and unrealistic regulations being imposed on both recreational and commercial fishermen. The proposed date is February 24, 2010. I don't have a lot of details yet, but will forward them as I receive them. I believe several thousand trucks with boats on trailers stalled in the HOV lanes around the Capital Belt Line would get someone's attention.
There has also been an online petition started to prevent having bluefin tuna listed as endangered under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) proposal coming in March 2010. Supporters of the petition believe allowing bluefin to be listed there will mean an end to all bluefin fishing and don't think it is necessary after the catch reductions imposed at the recent International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting. The petition is available for review at www.petitiononline.com/tuna09/petition.html.
Last week I offered a few ideas for Christmas presents and managed to leave out a couple of things that should have been included. Perhaps you have heard of Cackalacky Spice Sauce? It is a spicy (not hot but spicy) all natural sauce that is made in Chapel Hill and given one of the nicknames for our great state (North Cackalacky).
The flavor is excellent and it is extremely healthy. If you read the label, most of the items are zeroes. There are 5 calories, but none are from fat. The remaining non zero numbers are 65mg (3% daily value) of sodium per serving and 4% of vitamin A. The list of all natural ingredients includes vinegar, crushed tomatoes, sweet potatoes, honey, pepper pulp, apple cider, wine, onions, molasses, salt, key lime juice, soybean oil, brown sugar, spices, natural smoke flavor and garlic. This combination produces a flavor I heartily recommend on just about everything except ice cream.
The issue in our area may be finding it. It is available to Lowe's Foods and Harris Teeter Foods, but may not be in your closest store. I have found the managers to be receptive of stocking it when asked. Perhaps after more of us try it and ask them, they will add it. It is also available on line at www.cackalacky.com.
The other item is related, but is not a spice. In searching for a way to find Cackalacky Spice Sauce, I developed somewhat of a relationship with the creator of Cackalacky Spice Sauce, Page Skelton. Towards the end of the summer, Page sent me pictures of his new fishing lure made from recycled wine corks and beer bottle caps.
The Booze Bait, www.boozebait.com, probably began in jest, but has proven itself to be a functional fishing bait, not just a gag. There are three pages of pictures of bass caught using the Booze Bait on the company website.
I believe there are some saltwater species that will hit this creation also. I haven't caught a red drum or trout on one yet, but my main problem is I keep forgetting to use one. I'm so sure bluefish will hit them I consider it a lack of challenge and haven't tried. Some time this winter I'll be in the right situation for stripers and will try to remember to give it a try for them. I'm sure schooling stripers feeding on or near the surface will test the durability.
Currently Booze Baits are available in singles or by the six-pack. The website says a Booze Bait is the perfect gift for any fishermen, wine snob or beer geek. Each comes with a set of instructions and its own deluxe clear display case.
When you order your Booze Baits, you should go ahead and order some Cackalacky Spice Sauce too. It will go great on the fish you are going to catch using the Booze Bait.
If you are still looking for the perfect Christmas present for the fisherman that has everything, I may have the answer. Capt. Jimmy Price and I will be giving some all day fishing schools across N.C. at the end of January and through February. These schools are all on Saturdays and will begin at 8:00 and last until approximately 4:30. They are sponsored by Sea Striker and Star Rods. The dates and locations are: January 30 in Southport; February 20 in Greenville and February 27 in Greensboro. Contact Capt. Jimmy Price at 910-443-1211 or me at 910-279-6760 for more details or to purchase tickets.
Tournaments have all but ended for the year. The Chasin' Tails Speckled Trout Tournament began October 1 and will run through January 31. This tournament features overall winners and monthly prizes for specific weight fish. The current leader is Tom Holland, who was an earlier leader and has upped the ante again. Holland's current big fish is a whopping 8.32 pound gator trout, but it gives us something to shoot for. The special weight for December is 2.97 pounds. For more information, visit www.chasintailsoutdoors.com.
Here's a challenge for the kayak fishermen. The North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association (NCKFA -- www.nckfa.com) has paired with the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department to announce they will be holding their First Annual Oak Island Classic Kayak Fishing Tournament on October 9, 2010. This tournament will feature divisions for flounder, speckled trout, red drum and king mackerel. Yes, you read that correctly, there will be an ocean division for kings.
The NCKFA is a statewide group of kayak fishermen and fisherwomen that has meetings on the third Saturday of each month at the Get:Outdoors (www.getoutdoors.us) store in Greensboro. The beneficiary of the proceeds from this tournament will be the Oak Island Sea Turtle Protection Program that is run by the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department. More details on the tournament are available at the NCKFA website.
There are a series of Fishing Expos scheduled for N.C. and Va. in January and I will be among the knowledgeable fishermen presenting seminars at these events. The Fishing Expos will be January 8 to 10 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, January 15 to 17 at the Richmond Raceway Complex in Richmond and January 22 to 24 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro. For more information, visit the show website at www.ncboatshows.com.