Wow! That one small word only begins to describe the feelings many of us felt today. One of the members from NC Angler.com, Speckhunter80 organized the second annual Wounded Warriors Pier fishing event. The wounded warriors are from Camp LeJeune and are there recovering from wounds they received in Iraq or Afghanistan. This special day was organized as a way for the angler community to show our appreciation for their sacrificial service to our county.
We had 9 Marines from the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp LeJeune. Nine heroes, real American heroes! Not politicians, movie stars, or sport stars that we sometimes mistakenly treat as heroes. Most American will never know their names. Will never see their faces. Will never know first hand the sacrifices these guys made for us, for ME and for YOU. They don’t even know us, but they were willing to put it all on the line for us. True heroes, not that they consider themselves to be heroes, they say “We were just doing our job”. What a privilege it was to spend the day with these guys.
I’ll let some others tell the tales about the fish caught, the fish that caught a Marine…LOL. We all have some stories about the Marines we met today. That’s what I want to tell you about.
A few of their stories. One Marine was on his second tour in Iraq - and was wounded three times - not all at the same time but all on the same day. His platoon was ambushed and he took a round through his helmet and across the top of his head. Unfazed by the blood and missing section of his helmet, he saw a marine down in front of him and nobody had been able to get to him yet so with his machine gun blazing he went out into the field. That is when he took a round from a sniper in his arm. It was an Armour piercing round and shattered his right fore arm. He has had many surgeries to repair that arm, he still lacks full feeling in his hand as the nerves were severely damaged. Then later in the day he took a piece of shrapnel to the gut. This final blow destined him to a helicopter ride back to the base and then back home. He is re-enlisting in a few months when his current enlistment is up, he wants to go back on the battle field for a third time, this time to Afghanistan.
Another fellow I spoke with had his legs and knees severely damaged in Iraq during a fire fight with Syrian & Jordanian terrorist. He told me he has been in 5 years and served in Iraq & Afghanistan three times. He wants to make a career of the marines but they are saying he won’t be allowed to go overseas because of the damage to his legs. He says he doesn’t want a desk job, he wants to do his job (Infantry) and go back overseas.
These are just two of the heroes we took fishing today. Each of them have a part in keeping us free. Heroes INDEED!
Below is a group picture of the heroes and some of the volunteers:
This is the time of year when the blue fish start to show up in real big numbers. First the smallest or what is locally called Taylor blues, then the mediums sized one called snapper blues and then finally the largest ones, chopper blues. Choppers weigh in at 8 pounds or more and can get much bigger!
They don’t hang around in large numbers for long, usually just few weeks. The smaller blues will stay until early winter. So if you enjoy catching big blues, now is the time!
Pictured is Billy Manger with a 33” Chopper Blue that weighed in at 13 pounds. He was caught on light tackle near Diver’s Rock on Saturday.
After the weather busted our planned trip for this past Tuesday, Gery (Hunter’s Haven) and I have been anticipating getting out today to chase some Bonito. The weather reports and marine forecast looked promising so we met up at 6am and headed for the ramp.
The big decision was where to fish. Normally the South Topsail and WB area provide some of the best Bonito action around but it has been REAL SLOW this season so far but there has been some decent action at the north end of Topsail. So we decided to try up there. We made the 45 minute ride up the ditch and went out of New River Inlet at about 7am and were met with beautiful skies and 3 foot ground swells on 10 second intervals with almost no wind - Beautiful!
About a mile out of the inlet we noticed birds ahead and a few boats in that area so we deployed a couple of Yozuri deep diver. BAM! hook-up. But we lost him before we could get him to the boat. Now we were in the area near the diving birds and could see fishing occasionally busting the top, so we decided to sight cast. BAM! Gery has a fish on. He gets it into the boat - skunk be gone!
A few minutes latter, BAM! - I get a hook-up, then a slack line, cut-off. No sooner get a lure back in the water and BAM! fish on. Then another one or two. Then BAM! BAM! double hook-up! Gery and I both get our fish to the boat.
And so the morning went - at times we had fish busting on all four side of the boat! What a blast. Bonito is a hard pulling, fast running fish. On 10/12 pound tackle they are an absolute blast.
We ended up keeping 7 for the table(s) and released and lost plenty too. It was a great morning of fishing and fellowship with a good friend. It was so nice out there we decided to make the 25 mile trip back home via the ocean instead of the ditch - it was a nice ride on a beautiful day!
This was Gery’s first time Bonito fishing - judging from the high fives and smiles, I doubt the last though. Glad we were able to get on the fish Gery - we certainly were blessed!
The old adage that the month of March “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” was only half true this year. March roared all the way into April in these parts, at least as far as the marine weather went. Lots of wind, then just as we were sure there could be no more, it blew again.
I spoke to one charter captain that had already canceled 16 trips this year – all in March and early April. It’s a hard way to make a living with weather like we’ve had.
April started the same way. But the past couple of weeks have offered us a few days here and there to get out in the ocean and chase some fish! We have had some “blue bird” days for sure, sunny skies, warm days and little wind!
When the fleet was finally able to get out to the Gulf Stream, they found the Black Fin Tuna chewing and had some nice catches of Wahoo too. Lately the catches have included some nice sized Yellow Fin Tuna and some gaffer size Mahi. I have had good reports from the more southern areas like the Steeples and Black Jack hole. The Reports from the Big Rock area have indicated a lot of grass and green water but that should change as the trade winds shift to be more from the south and southeast.
The grouper bite has been good in the 30 - 40 miles range with plenty of red grouper and some good size gags being taken. The usual mix of bottom fish, pinkies, b-liners, black bass and grunts have been biting as well.
Closer to shore the Bonito have been running strong on the north end of the island with the southern end being left behind so far. The bite has been the best at Diver’s Rock and just south of there. Diver’s rock is about 4 nautical mile from New River inlet on a southeast heading. The action has been more in mid water column so far than on top. Anglers have had the best results from fishing on #2 planers or using their downriggers to get their lures into the 25-30 foot range. A few Spanish mackerel have made an appearance as well. More should be on the way soon.
On the piers and from the surf, the mullet and blues action has been steady. Lots of snapper and taylor sized blues but I heard one report of a nice chopper blue being caught. To get the best results of mullet catches, try to find fresh, local shrimp. By fresh I mean not having been frozen and caught within the past day or two. Sand fleas are working well but to find them you will have to visit the beach areas that were NOT renourished this past winter. On the other hand, the blues will bite about anything you put out there.
Inside the trout are still chewing with the New River producing some nice sized fish. The creeks and waterway are also holding some specks. The reds have moved onto the marsh banks but the bite has been spotty so patience and stealth are the keys.
Spring fishing has SPRUNG! Get out here and catch a few!
Tight lines to all!
I have just added a Wiki module to the site and have begun to populate it with articles. A Wiki is a type of knowledge base, one of the best known is the online encyclopedia known as Wikipedia. Ours is unique to the Topsail area and fishing. We hope you enjoy it as we expand it from its humble beginnings today to a master resource for our area in the future! A link is on the menu bar or you can click here.
Its official, spring fishing has begun! The mullet bite has been strong, plenty of nice speckled trout are being caught in the New River and its creeks and now the Bonito have showed up off of New River Inlet at Divers rock.
Speaking of Bonito, it’s one of my favorite fish and really gets my fishing blood warmed up in the spring. The bonito visit our coast line about this time of year and will stay a few weeks before heading further north.
The best time to target them is early in the morning around first dawn but you can find them at other times too. They usually travel in large schools and often can be seen busting on balls of baitfish at the surface. Quite a sight to behold for a set of winter-fatigued eyes!
Once the water gets above 62, you can start looking for them. They will come very close to the coastline but seem to prefer structure that breaks up the currents. The near shore artificial reefs are a great place to hunt for them. While they do come fairly close to shore it would be rare to be able to catch one from shore or the pier.
They spook fairly easy so you will need to approach them from up current if at all possible and then drift toward them. If they are not on the surface, use your fishfinder in combination with a vertical jigging rig to find them in the water column. Once you have located them and get close enough, they are fairly easy to target. They are a bit leader shy so I use a fluorocarbon leader, never metal or heavy monofilament.
You can fish for them much like you would for Spanish mackerel. I like to use a fast action, light duty rod and reel, much like a flounder or sea trout combo with 10 or 12 pound test line. Many fishermen like to use a light metal jig like a Maria lure or a Lurh Jensen crippled herring to target them on the surface. Anywhere from ½ to 1 ½ ounces usually works well depending on the water conditions. If they are deeper in the water column try using a diving type lure such as the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow Deep Diver or pull a Clark spoon on a trolling weight.
The bonito will at first bite seem almost an easy pull, but when the fish realizes it is being pulled away from the school and it will make a FAST run trying to catch up. Then they will begrudge you every inch of line as you reel them in. Once they see the boat it starts all over again, only this time the run isn’t quite as far. Pound for pound they are one of the hardest fighting fish out there. A pure blast on light tackle and a favorite of saltwater fly fisherman!
The Bonito action has started around the Diver’s Rock area and should be showing up at other near shore reefs as well. The Sea Mullet bite remains strong with a mixed bag of sizes. They are biting fresh shrimp real well but some anglers are reporting some of the bigger ones on fresh sand fleas. Vinita Gass, manger of Surf City Ocean Pier, reports good catches on mullet especially at night with some grey trout and a few flounder and puffers being caught as well. The marine weather hasn’t allowed to many trips out to the stream lately but the few days when boats have made it out confirm that the Yellowfin & Blackfin tuna bite is hot and some nice size Wahoo have also been caught.
Tight lines to all!
I left this morning at daybreak. The winds finally have laid down (albeit only for a day or so according to the forecast) so I wanted to find out if the temps had warmed enough for the Bonito to have arrived.
I left out of Rich Inlet and my first stop was Figure 8 reef, water temp was 59.8. A little chilly for Bonito but decided to pull some deep divers anyway. Only birds around were a bunch of loons. Nothing, nada.
Left there and tried Dallas Rocks, temp was half a degree COOLER even though I was 4 miles further out. Again tried trolling a few minutes to no avail. Then headed to the first set of box cars, about 8 nautical miles off the beach. Temps were once again only 59.3 and no activity, very little bait.
So I headed home. With only a two foot ground swell, sunny skies and only 5 knot winds it was a pleasant ride and enjoyable morning. Just NO fish.