I went out today with John, a friend from Wilmington and Sean. We met at John’s work at 2:00pm and headed for the Wrightsville Beach boat ramp. We intended to head to the Schoolhouse and if the weather was decent then onto WR-4 form some trolling and bottom fishing.
The seas were a bit bumpy and got a little worse as we headed out but it was doable so we headed for the schoolhouse. I had some new popping lures I hoped to try out as well as tap into my arsenal of vertical jigging rigs. We were loaded with ballyhoo, sea witches and trolling gear too.
We began by trolling some ballyhoo around the wrecks. We were marking some bait pods on the surface and over the wrecks but after about 30 minutes of trolling and no takers, we decided to switch over to jigging gear. We attracted a large school of Amberjacks, curious as to what we were up to. They would follow our baits but wouldn’t take them. We tried a whole bunch of different jigs. Then we broke out the popping gear and lures. I used a Yo-Zuri dolphin colored popping lure, that did the trick. Before long I had an AJ blow up on a lure, he missed the first two times but on the third pass the game was on!
While I was fighting him, Sean hooked up as well. Double header! After a pretty good battle I landed my first amber jack on a surface popping lure! Sean broke off. John had a hook up but had the line jam on his spool and lost the fish. Sean had another hook up but this one broke him off. Then I had another but after a few minutes he managed to get into the wreckage and broke me off. Then it went quite. No more bites.
We kept switching out lures and jigs trying to find something they would hit. Sean had another hookup but he came unbuttoned. Then I switched over to a long butterfly jig in cigar minnow color and as soon as it hit the bottom, BAM - game on. This one fought even harder than the first making several good runs and trying to get over tot he wreck. I managed to keep him in clear water and continued the fight. Finally landed him, he was a little bigger and probably tipped the scales at around 28 - 30 pounds. What a fighter these fish are, they earned their nickname, Reef Donkey.
That was the last hook-up for the day. we tried some more trolling but to no avail so with sunset less than an hour away we headed for the hill. We didn’t catch many but I had a big smile on my face. Amberjacks on vertical jigs and popping gear are a blast! Had a great time, Thanks John! It was nice to met and get o know you too, Sean!
Springtime fishing is in full swing! Unfortunately so are the spring time winds.
If you can find a place out of the wind or on those days when the wind gives us a bit of a break, the fishing has been awesome. Typical of this time of year, the mornings are often a bit calmer. As the airs warms in the late afternoon and interacts with the cooler sea water, it produces a lot of wind. Then in the late evening it often dies down again. It looks like relief is in sight. The marine forecast for the entire Memorial Day week-end is looking NICE!
The piers are reporting good catches of blues. Some chopper blues are still lurking around but most that are being caught are in the 1- 2 pound class. Those are the best eating size if you like blue fish. They are being caught on most anything but the most effective method and maybe the most fun is plugging. The Gotcha lure and small diamond jigs are popular lures for plugging. Some nice flounder are also being caught, live or fresh shrimp is workign best.
Some Spanish are mixed in with the blues with the best bite being in the early morning light and the late afternoon. The Sea mullet are still biting best at night. Some flounder, pompano and croakers are also being caught. A few kings have been caught and I had one report of a cobia hooked but lost at the gaff.
Inshore the drum bite has been good with top water lures working quite well in the mornings. The speck bite has been good in the New River with fish being caught all the way up into Jacksonville.
Near shore the fishing is similar to the piers. Anglers are catching lots of blues with some nice Spanish in the mix. Work the tide line for good results around low tide. Clark spoons and Yo-zuri deep divers are working well. Small kings are out in force between the “E” buoy and Christmas rock. Most are being caught on downriggers in the 30 – 40 foot range. Blue Water Candy skirts in green or pink seem to be working well. A few Cobia have been caught near New Topsail Inlet and the near shore ledges.
The bigger kings are still further out and scattered. Try out in the 20 mile range on some of the patch reefs and ledges. The dolphin fish should be moving in closer soon but this past week they were still in 180 – 250 feet of water. Some nice Wahoo have been caught in that range as well. Plenty of amberjacks are being caught in those waters as well.
Tight Lines and Happy Memorial Day to all!
My friend and owner of Blue Water Candy Lures, Jodie, told me that he and his buddy Andy of “all In” Charters found the kings chomping on Saturday. They left out of New River inlet Saturday morning. It was a bit rough at first so they decided to pull dead cigar minnows. They headed for the “E” bouy and trolling on a line headed for Christmas Rock.
It wasn’t long before they had their first fish on. Then it was steady action for the rest of the morning.
They had the best results over some small humps between the buoy and Christmas rock. Jodie said they weren’t big but it was a good tune up for the coming season as they had some newer anglers on board. Most of the fish were caught on the down riggers at 30 - 40 feet. They were using Blue Water Candy skirts in Green, Blue and Pink (all three colors worked equally well).
He said the wind& seas laid down around mid-morning and it was right pleasant out there!
Reading the marine forecast for today, I figured it would be strictly an “inside” fishing day. So checked the tides and left around 10:00. After catching a few dink flounder and rat reds I ended up near Rich Inlet. I was shocked to see almost no whitecaps and slick water outside the inlet. Weatherman missed it again.
I didn’t have the right gear for chasing kings but so I decided to switch out my terminal tackle on my light gear with deep divers and maria jigs and chase some Spanish.
It was fast approaching low tide with a SSE swell and a west wind. That meant there was a beautiful elongated tide line running out of the inlet and toward the north. I began to troll along the line, weaving in and out of the clear water. It didn’t take long before I was releasing my fourth or fifth blue fish. So I sped it up a few knots and BINGO, Spanish on! Several times I had both lines hooked up.
Being by myself, it was a challenge to keep the lines from tangling with two fish on and keep off the shoals. SO after a couple of fire drills, I went to one line and that was fine cause it kept me busy. I lost track of how many I caught but it was non stop for about two hours. I brought home a couple of nice size ones for dinner.
Nice day! Good fishing!
Vinita (SCP Manager) emailed me with a catching report and some pictures today. Pictured is Garrett, age 8, from Hampstead with a 2.02lb Spanish caught plugging with his dad.
Vinita says: The Spanish showed up this past Sunday….on days the weather was nice we saw some nice Spanish and lots of smaller blues. Some bigger blues are being caught, usually off the king rig. After dark the Va. mullet bite has been good. The weather has been kinda wacky lately, hard to call what might bite.
An angler had a king on Thursday and lost it a the gaff (pulled the hooks out). Still waiting on the first king of the ‘08 season to be caught ....the First king of the ‘08 season wins a 2008 Season King fishing pass valued at $250.
Yesterday was one of them picture perfect weather days. I fished with my neighbor, Al and his friend John. The wind picked up just as we were loading the boat to go fishing. Then John’s boat developed an engine problem at the ramp that required his mechanic to come fix it ( he had just had it serviced too). He found the problem and we shoved off about an hour or so later.
Pictured is Al with three of the fish we caught.
Due to the choppy conditions and late start we scraped our original plans to head to the school house to try for kings. Instead we stayed near shore and went after the Spaniards. We caught a total of 6 nice ones with the biggest weighing almost 3 pounds. We watched and followed the birds circling and diving. We were able to get close enough to one school for sight casting but they quickly dispersed. We landed one Spanish and a blue fish.
After several more attempts we switched over to trolling as the schools were moving quickly. I don’t think the bait schools were very big so the Spanish were on the move. That ended up being the right strategy as we could cover a lot of water and follow the birds. We five Spanish and several blues trolling using Yo-zuri deep divers - clown was the hot color. The first Spanish was caught sight casting with a purple/silver Marie jig.
We had a great time and boated some decent fish. It was nice to fish with Al again and to met and fish with John. Enjoyed it guys!
The Spanish have arrived, Spanish mackerel that is. Many anglers including myself have been enjoying the early spring mix of Atlantic Bonito and bluefish and now Spanish mackerel. Of course the drum and trout continue to be favorite targets in the sounds and creeks with larger flounder starting to show up too.
Often just called “Spanish” this fish is the smaller cousin to the king mackerel with a strong family resemblance. In fact Spanish mackerel look very much like a juvenile king mackerel. The easiest way to tell them apart is the front portion of the first dorsal fin of the Spanish is black, it looks like a flag. You can also tell by the lateral line on either side of the fish. On a King it drops down about halfway back on either side where as on Spanish it remains fairly level all the way to the tail.
It is very important to distinguish the difference as the creel and size limits are different for the two species. The current regulations for NC coastal waters require a minimum length of 12 inches for Spanish with a daily limit of 15 fish. For a king mackerel, the minimum size is 24 inches with a three fish limit. A few king mackerel have been caught this past week near shore with one reported from Sea View pier, so make sure you check that fish before keeping it.
Spanish Mackerel are migratory and return to our coastal water about this time of year when the water temperatures reach into the high 60’s and above. They usually stay until early fall. They travel in schools and sometimes can be picky about their meals. Other times they are less discerning and upon occasion will even hit bare gold hooks in the late afternoon sun.
While they can be caught anytime of the day, early morning and late afternoons are often the most productive. Boaters head of the inlets staying within a mile or so of the beach while looking for birds circling and diving. This type bird activity usually is a tell-tale sign that a school of mackerel or blues are “working” a school of bait fish. The circle and drive them to the top and then begin to cut through the school to feed. Birds swoop down to take advantage of this bonanza which helps anglers find the action.
These tasty fish are often caught off our piers as well as in small boats trolling close to the beaches and inlets. One of the favorite lures used by many boat anglers is the Clark Spoon. It’s a metal spoon and comes in several colors including gold and silver. In addition to trolling it across the top of the water, anglers often pull them on a trolling weight or behind a Booney bird for that extra edge.
From the pier one of the most popular lures for catching Spanish and blues is the Gotcha plug from Sea Striker or similar type plugs. They come in many different color combinations but the old stand-by for many anglers is the one with a redhead and silver body.
Spring fishing is in full swing now for sure!
Catching report for this week:
Plenty of blues are being caught near shore and from the piers with some very nice fish in the 10 – 13 pound range being caught. A few Spanish mackerel have been caught from the piers and boats near shore and the bite should continue to get stronger as the water warms up this week. Some nice catches of Bonito are still being reported with the Diver’s Rock areas still being one of the top spots. Some are being caught around AR360 and nearby ledges.
Inshore the speckled trout fishing has been exceptional in the New River and the creek mouths joining the river. The red drum have moved onto the flats and the marshy areas near oyster beds. There also have been some nice catches of flounder with one friend of mine catching 4 fish over 4 pounds one day with the largest at over 7 pounds. The bite is still thin but should be improving as the bait schools increase inshore.
Offshore the Dolphin fish and Wahoo bite has been spectacular this last week with some 60 plus pound fish being landed. The big fish are still out near the Gulf Stream waters but some nice gaffer and schoolie size dolphin are showing up along weed lines in the 20 – 30 mile range. The tuna bite had been erratic but a few nice fish have been caught. Bottom fishing in depths around the 150 – 300 foot range continues to be strong with nice catches of grouper and a silver snapper being landed.
Tight lines to all!