Fall is in the air. Feel it? Cooler temperatures, first at night then the days begin to cool down too. With those cooling temperatures come some rain and thunderstorms. But generally the weather is mild barring a major storm.
As the water temperatures begin to fall up north, the fish migrate south to warmer waters. Species like Spanish mackerel, Atlantic Pompano, blues, spots and others make a visit here on their way south. Some of these species have been here all summer but really show up in big numbers this time of year.
The cooler temperatures are also a lot easier on the angler. While there is still plenty of sunshine to enjoy it’s not as hot and muggy. In fact the crispness of the morning air is a welcome feeling to most of us about this time of year. Even without the great fishing, there is something special about being out on the water in the fall, it is refreshing!
Inshore activity is really picking up now that the storms have moved out and the water has cleared up.
Spot are being caught on the piers “two at a time” with a few being caught in the waterway near the inlets with blood worms working best. The pompano are chewing on fresh shrimp and sand fleas. Some nice one to two pounders are being caught in the surf and on the pier. Plenty of black drum and croakers are being caught on the piers using shrimp pieces.
Speckled trout are in the surf and can be found near the marsh grass and in creeks and ditches near the inlets as well. They are biting well on live shrimp but gulp! Artificial bait and a variety of lures are working well. Big drum are still being caught in the surf and around the shoals, try some cut mullet for good results. Puppy drum are still biting in the waterway. Finger mullet and small menhaden are working well but some anglers are having good results on top water lures and spinner baits.
The Spanish mackerel bite has been very hot near the inlets and beaches with the best bite in the early morning and late afternoon. Clark spoons and diamond jigs are working well. Get them now as they will be moving south soon. Plenty of blue fish are also being caught.
Kings are being caught offshore but should be moving in close to the beach as the water clears up from the storms and the bait returns. Offshore the mahi bite is moving back out closer to the gulf stream. Good catches of wahoo and tuna are also being reported.
Tight lines and hope you catch ‘em up!
Spots, Spots. I’m seeing spots.
‘Bout now you can hear those words from folks up and down Topsail Island. They are of course referring to the fish by that name. This tasty pan sized fish is a favorite with locals and visitors alike, many claiming they would just as soon eat a spot as a steak.
A friend of mine that works at Surf City pier says this time of year, 9 out of 10 phone calls are folks wanting to know if the spots are biting.
The fish get their name from the distinctive black spot just behind their gill. The fish looks similar to a croaker but have little barbell-like bumps under their chins, are smoother and wider, and have forked tails. Like a croaker, when caught the spot will make a croaking sound but usually softer and less frequently.
An occasional spot will be caught about anytime in the summer and fall. However this month is prime time for the little fish. They are caught from ocean piers, the surf and on the sound side from boats and the shore.
They often travel in large schools. At times you can fill a cooler full of the tasty fish in a short period. Other times, the bite can be, well, spotty.
Blood worms and shrimp pieces are two of the best natural baits. “Fish Bites” is a favorite artificial used to catch this fish. In either case, use a two hook bottom rig with a pyramid sinker is most often used. When the bite is hot, anglers will pull the fish up two at a time!
Hampstead holds the annual “North Carolina Spot Festival” each September. This year is the 45th festival and is being held September 27th & 28th. The festival is held in Hampstead off of Hwy 17 on the southbound side about a quarter mile south of the intersection with 210 west.
In addition to plenty of spot dinners – spot, French fries, slaw and hush puppies – there is plenty to do at the festival. Featured are musical performances, arts and crafts, static displays, and many vendors that are out supporting our community. All proceeds go to benefit local schools and volunteer fire departments. For more info visit their website, http://www.ncspotfestival.com/
Fall fishing is really starting to kick in! Vinita Gass, manager of the Surf City Pier, often is heard in the summer saying, “we are catching lots of different fish, just not a lot of any one kind.” This week her report was a harbinger that fall fishing has arrived, “we are catching lots of EVERYTHING” she said.
All three piers are reporting that Spanish, blues, pompano, sheepshead, flounder and others are coming onto the planks in good numbers. The spot bite is starting to pick-up and should be in full force soon. There have been plenty of kings caught in the past week or so with a number of them in the 30 pound class.
Inshore the drum bite has been good with mullet and small menhaden doing the trick for live bait anglers. The top water action has been very good as well especially around the marsh grass on either side of high tide. The Speck bite at the north-end of the island and in the New River has been good with live shrimp being the bait of choice for many but soft plastics and scented baits are working well too.
I don’t anything to report offshore this week as the wind has been howling and not many boats made it out.
Tight lines to all!
If you went by my boat, the title for today’s entry should be “no catching report”. My friend Alan and I were entered in the NC Flatfish Championship hosted by the Fisherman’s Post. We went all out to catch big flounder. Using big live baits and fishing only in spots where one or both of us had caught a “doormat” sized flounder before, it was all or nothing. Turned out to be nothing. Well we did catch some small flounders, lost a couple nice size ones and caught a full range of bait stealers from lizard and toad fish to baby groupers.
We heard reports from some of our friends of some nice flounder being caught at Sea View pier as well as some nice reds in the surf. We also spoke to some folks that caught some a few sheepshead and black drum. The water is very clear and the temperatures are dropping so the fishing will just get better and better.
More as the reports trickle in….............
A new North Carolina state record for Tarpon was set yesterday by Malcom Condie. He was fishing off the end off Sea View Pier at North Topsail Beach when he landed the 193 pound fish. Condie was using 30 pound test line with a pop-eye mullet as bait. It took him under an hour to land the Tarpon. The previous state record was a 175 pound fish caught in 2005 by Jesse J. Lockowitz.
The inshore water clarity is about normal for this time of year but the water in the first few miles off the beach is a milky green but is improving. Offshore the water is clear and very blue!
Up at the north end of the island, the specks and drum are chewing and some nice flounder too. There is plenty of bait in that water which usually means your best bet is to use some live mullet, menhaden or shrimp for bait. The specks in the river are running in the 1-3 pound size and are around the mouths to the creeks and on up to Wilson Bay. A few larger ones have also been caught this week. The reds have been hitting on top water plugs in the shallow grassy areas on the flood tide as well as on live bait about anytime.
The piers are reporting good catches of blues and Spanish in the mornings. The pompano bite has been good at times, especially in the daytime and on sand fleas and shrimp. A few sheepshead and flounder are being caught near the pilings. Night time fishing is producing some black drum a few small mullets, not many spots yet. A few kings have been caught this week too.
There has been some nice over-the-slot sized drum being caught in the surf. The best location has been Lea Island. The shoals around Rich’s inlet have been good as well.
Offshore the Wahoo bite has been hot in the 30 – 50 miles range with a few being taken closer in. Some small black fin tuna were caught this past week. The mahi bite continues to be strong from 20 miles and out with many bailers and a few nice gaffers being caught. The kings are scattered and can be found in the 10 – 30 mile range. A few have been caught closer in but the inshore bite isn’t strong yet.
Tight lines to all!
My freind Randy (owner of NCAngler.com) and I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Oriental fishing on the Nuese river for old red drum. We met up there on Tuesday afternoon.
I knew before I left that it would be a good trip cause the day did not start out well. I figured the fish had conspired to keep us off the water. I noticed both of my trailer tires were a little low on air so I went to remove the cap and fill them. As soon as I twisted the cap the metal part of the stem came flying out and the tire went flat as a pancake. Same thing on the other side. I couldn’t remove the lugs because of rust, so I had to go borrow an impact wrench and compressor to get them off. Then I had jack problems and had to borrow another jack. After 3 hours, I finally got the tires fix and was on my way.
Randy and I met up there around 4:30 and launched the boat. I had stopped at Dave’s (Minnesott Bait & Tackle) to pick up some bait and get the latest fishing report. Soon we were at our desired spot and had our baits and chum out. Not too long latter and the storm clouds started appearing. When the lightening and clouds headed our way we left and pulled out of the water. Day 1 - fish 1, us nothing.
On the second day we got fresh bait and headed out about 4:30 and set-up on a spot near where we had been the day before. We were there an hour or so before when we finally got a bite and then after a brief but thrilling fight I boated our first Red drum, a nice 38” fish. Not to be out done, a hour or so latter Randy boated a beautiful 48” drum! That turned out to be the largest of the trip. A little latter I boated another fish, this one was 40 inches. We waited another hour without a bite and decided to call it a night. Three fish today, not bad - in fact we were quite happy!
We originally planned to leave on the morning of the third day but decided to stay another night after we got washed out the first night. I’m glad we did. Once again we got some fresh striped mullet. There was someone already on the spot we had occupied the night before so we went up river a 1000 yards or so, located the drop-off and set up there. Soon we had our first fish in the boat, my personal best at 46 inches. We caught four more big drum in the next 2 hours and finally called it quits at dark. Five fish today, eight for the trip!
What a great trip - good fishing, catching and fellowship! Cudo’s to Randy for picking the “spot” and for his wonderful hospitality (we stayed at his family’s vacation house on the river).
Everyone I have heard from this week-end wants to know “did Hanna affect the fishing?” Well they say a picture tells the story and that is true in this case. Pictured is my buddy Alan with a one of many red drum he caught today.
He was fishing up at the north end of Topsail in some creeks and marsh just off the ICW. He said the water clarity was decent and the fish were definitely hungry. They fished this afternoon till dark and caught 5 keeper flounder and a whole slew of red drum, most of them in the slot. They had one about 30” long break off at the boat.
All the fish were caught on live finger mullet. They tried a variety of lures and soft baits including Gulp! but the fish wanted live bait, period. He said they couldn’t find very many shrimp in the creeks (the fresh water probably washed them out) but finding finger mullets was not a problem, they are in all the usual spots and plentiful.
Here’s a few more pictures.