Most saltwater fishermen have an array of soft plastics, jigheads, topwater plugs and floating- or popping-cork rigs in their tackle boxes, but often, one of the most-important and productive lures is missing: weedless spoons.
“Any fisherman who doesn’t have some weedless spoons in his tackle box is missing out on key lures,” said Capt. Allen Jernigan of Breadman Ventures in Sneads Ferry. “I carry gold and black weedless spoons in the ¼- and ½-ounce sizes and constantly use them as go-to lures. I know a lot of fishermen overlook them because they look so simple, but I won’t leave home without them.
“Like many other fishermen, I first started using them for puppy drum in areas where other lures would stay hung up, but I’ve caught speckled trout, gray trout, flounder and more with them.”
I hadn't been offshore in almost a year so when my good friend Taylor called and invited me to go on Sunday, I jumped on the chance. He also invited my good friend and fishing buddy Gery (yes, I spelled it correctly and it pronounced like the spelling Gary). Another friend of Taylor's, Michael, also came along.
We meet at Taylor's at 5am and soon were headed out of the boat ramp in Sneads Ferry for Swansboro Hole and other places near it. After a couple hour, mostly smooth ride we stopped and put out the high speed lures for the remaining ride. Didn't get any hits so we switched over to Ballyhoo rigged on a variety of skirts and lures.
At 9am we hooked up with our first fish. Gery was first in the fishing rotation. He fought and land a nice wahoo, his very FIRST! Congratulations my friend! We estimated it weighed in the 20's. It was 50 inches long with an 18 inch girth, nice fish.
A bit later we had another hook-up (after a missed knock down), this time Michael was on the reel and landed another nice wahoo - a bit smaller than Gery's but still a very nice fish. Then we had several short strikes and finally another hook-up but this one pulled the hook after a 20 second or so run. I was on the rod and very disappointed to lose the fish.
Then a thunder storm we had been trying to avoid with subtle changes in course got closer and we had to pick-up and move about 10-12 miles away. No luck at the new spot so after the storm cleared we headed back to 'our' spot. But by then the bite had died so after an hour or so of trolling we headed home.
It was awesome to be back in the blue water! Great day with good friends and some fish for the dinner table! Thanks Taylor - I had a blast as usual when fishing with you on the 'Beast'!
Temperatures are dropping, the leaves are turning colors and the fishing is HOT. These are sure signs that autumn has started in the Topsail Island area.
That and those little yellow butterflies we see dotting the landscape.
Old timers will tell you when the yellow butterflies show up, so do the fish, especially spots. Ask local fishermen about their favorite fishing season and you likely will hear the word fall mentioned more often than not.
It certainly is the busiest time of year for our ocean fishing piers. Our sounds, creeks and river have a lot of visitors this time of year too, from near and far away. As the catches of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and pompano begin to taper off, the Spot, Speckled trout and Red Drum bite picks-up.
Spot is one of the area’s favorite catches this time of year. Fishermen (and fisherwomen) line the pier rails and waterways. They come armed with fresh shrimp pieces, blood worms and similar baits.
Many use a typical two-hook bottom rig. When the bite is hot, you’ll hear that Spot are being caught “two at a time”, meaning both hooks come up with fish on. Some will fill their coolers with this tasty little fish in just a few hours.
Others are more interested in the Speckled Sea Trout, commonly called “specks” in these parts. This prized fish is caught year round in our area. However fall is one of the best times of year to catch them. They can be found not only in the inshore marshes and creeks but in the surf and from the ocean piers.
Specks are a prized catch and good eating too! Live bait such as shrimp or finger sized mullet and large minnows are good baits. Many anglers prefer using artificial baits like Mirrolures or soft plastics on jigheads. The live baits are often fished under a popping cork and are retrieved using a jerking motion. The hard baits and soft plastics are most often retrieved using a zig-zag or jerking pattern and allowing the baits to drop a bit between retrieves.
Speaking of good eating, another prized fish in these parts is the flounder. These flat fish are often found in the same places as Specks. Many of the same baits can be used to target both. Flounder lie on the bottom and ambush prey when they pass close by .
My favorite way to target flounder is with a Berkley Gulp! ® shrimp on a jighead. I’ll “bounce” it along the bottom with frequent, short pauses. If there is a hungry flounder around this will get its attention.
Topsail Island is blessed with three ocean fishing piers. These piers offer good access for ocean fishing and amenities such as bait, tackle, rest rooms and even a restaurant. Most will even cook your catch for you, adding the sides and a drink for a very reasonable price. This is fishing’s version of the “EASY” button. Not that catching is guaranteed but it sure is nice trying from one of our piers.
Each of our three towns has a pier. So no matter which section of the island you visit or live near, there’s a pier close by. Seaview Pier is located in North Topsail Beach, (910) 328-3172. Near the south end of the island in Topsail Beach Township is Jolly Roger Pier, (910) 328-4616. And last but not least, smack dab in the middle of the island is Surf City Pier, (910) 328-3521.
And don’t forget about winter fishing. Our mild winter season provides some of the most serene fishing you will find anywhere. I love to wet a line on a nice clear, crisp winter day. There are fewer folks around but still fish to be caught.
Inshore is your best bet this time of year. The marshes and creeks are the best places to try for catches of flounder, specks and red drum. Yes, some of each of the species stays here year round. Not in the numbers found in the fall, but still some to catch for the avid angler. Just remember a s-l-o-w retrieve is key when the water temperatures are below 60 degrees.
So go get ya some.
Visit my website at www.TopsailAngler.com where you will find fishing reports, a local fishing Wiki, and discussion forums.
Tight lines to all!
This article by Topsail Angler appeared in the Fall edition of Sound Magazine, a publication of the Pender Topsail Post & Voice. Photos courtesy of Breadman Ventures Fishing Charters
I had the opportunity to take a few days off this week-end and do some fishing and relaxing at my friend’s vacation home in Oriental, NC (Neuse River). I had a great week-end, relaxed and caught some fish!
On Friday my buddy, Randy, and I went out with Captain Dave Stewart of Knee Deep Charters in Minnesott Beach. Dave also owns a tackleshop there - www.pamlicotackle.com. We caught a nice size old drum a piece, mine was 45” long. I also caught a large sting ray and an “almost” 15” flounder. I was amazed that flounder hit a 10/0 hook with a huge chunk of mullet on it. Dave is a class act - I highly recommend him for charters or tackle!
I have been thinking about getting a kayak and this week-end I had a chance to try out three different ones. I really enjoyed fishing form one but it does take some adjustments for a guy like me that is use to some space in the boat. I’m keeping me an eye out for a good deal now, so I guess I’m hooked
Finally, a chance to go fishing. Between my work schedule and the weather, I had not been fishing since April 15th. I was invited to go out with my friend Taylor on his boat to chase some wahoo out near the Gulf Stream. Steve & Doug went as well.
As we approached our spot (about 5 miles from our destination) we deployed some high speed lures made by Ballyhood - we call them cow bells. We were trolling at about 18mph when we got our first fish. Doug pulled in a nice upper twenties Wahoo on the purple/black lure! Nice start.
Then a few minutes later the clicker sounder on the other rod and the fight was on. It was my turn in the rotation and the line was going out fast, then I started gaining on him, then the line went limp. I reeled as fast as I could for about 20 seconds and the line went tight again. The wahoo had made a run straight for the boat. I guess once he felt the hook in his mouth again it made him mad cause then he made a 100 yard yard dash AWAY from the boat this time. Taylor gaffed him superbly. He looked huge. He weighed in at just over 51 pounds. Very nice fish, indeed!
Steve was up next and caught a bailer mahi, still on the cow bells - a first for us. The last fish of the day came on a dead ballyhoo about 2 hours after the fun started. Taylor landed a mid twenties Wahoo.
Awesome day, beautiful day on the water and good fishing!
I headed offshore to the Swansboro Hole area yesterday with my friend Taylor on his boat and with Mike W. and Jonas. The weather was awesome! We pulled ballyhoos and some lures trolling for Wahoo, Tuna and mahi. Catching was slow but we did manage to boat a tuna.
That was caught on a Super Star Rig (Blue Water Candy) in blue & white with a medium ballyhoo rigged on it. That same rig was hit two other times as well.
It’s been a long, stormy & hot summer with few opportunities for me to fish . That changed yesterday. I was able to go on a Gulf Stream on Taylor’s boat, which we lovingly call the "Beast". We headed out about 5am with high hopes.
With fair seas and catches of wahoo & mahi we weren’t disappointed. We had an awesome day of cathcing and relaxing!
Once we got to the Swansboro hole we put out a full spread. The best action was in the early afternoon. We boated a mahi and 3 Wahoo with the largest going 29 pounds. We had two other knock-downs - one that was a reel screamer and lost a black fin tuna at the boat when it headed under the boat and into the prop.
I enjoyed fishing with Taylor and Jonas, very nice day!