My good buddy Gery Vaughn of Hunter’s Haven Taxidermy and I met just before dawn and pulled my boat up to New River Marina and launched around 6:30. We headed to the hot spot lately, Spanita Rock out of New River Inlet.
We deployed a pair of deep divers, a 3 5/8” model in pink and a clown colored 5 1/4” model. Not very long after deploying the lures we had a double hook-up! Gery and I each fought what tuned out to be a nice pair of Bonito! It’s 7 am and we already have a pair of 7 pound fish in the boat We started sight casting and soon I hooked up another Bonito, this one ran like the dickens. Then almost ran as hard all the way back to the boat, I thought I had lost it for a minute. Then it decided to run off shore again. This went on for a while before I finally boated our third Bonita of the morning.
Fish were busting bait all around us. Not that many birds but a few. I turned off the engine and for the next 30 minutes we made casts to the fish busting the surface. NOTHING. We tried four or five different style lures - Maria Jigs, Diamond Jigs, Mirro-Lure glass minnows, Gotcha plus and a no name metal jig.
Then it was just like someone opened up the gate, Gery and I both had a fish on. This time we landed a pair of nice Spanish Mackerel. For the next 90 minutes neither one of use made a cast without hooking up with a fish. It was wild! We were catching Bonita and Spanish with an occasional blue. The only down side was the the blues were cutting off our lures, often while we had a fish on, sometimes right at the boat. Sadly we would watch the blue hit the line and our fish swim away with our lure as jewelry.
So we decided to go back to trolling with Yo-Zuri’s. That was the ticket, no cutoffs but we kept putting fish in the boat!
We ended up catching over 60 fish between the two of us in less than 3 hours! At 10am we headed for the inlet. We brought home 6 Bonita and 20 Spanish Mackerel. The rest were released to fight another day.
Now came the best part. Driving home and stopping along the way at friends house to share some of our fish. We saw lots of smiles today, ours being the biggest!
Atlantic Bonito, small Spanish and a mixture of blues have been chewing off of Topsail Island this past week! The early morning bite is the strongest but fish have been taken at various times all day long.
Boater are catching all three species on Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow deep divers and Clark spoons when trolling and metal jigs (diamond jigs, maria jigs, sting slivers, etc) when sight casting. The area about 2 to 3 miles out of New River Inlet has been the hottest with some boats catching over 20 fish in just a few hours. If you are catching mostly blues, try speeding up to about 7 or 8 knots, the Bonito and Spanish will still bite but the blues won’t work that hard.
On the Topsail Island piers lots of blues are being caught, at times just about every angler has a fish on. A few small Spanish have been caught as well, mainly on Gotcha plugs.
Still a few nice red drum in the surf and plenty of sea mullet.
Tight lines to all.
The Atlantic Bonita is one of my favorite fish. Not because it’s a good fighter for its size, nor because it is one of the first pelagic fish to visit our shore in the spring, nor because it comes close to the beach and is easy to reach in my small boat. But rather for all of those reasons and besides its pretty tasty too!
Bonita visit structure within a few miles of our shoreline every spring on their migration path. They almost always arrive off Topsail by Tax day, April 15th. Normally they get here before the Spanish Mackerel with the short stay (about 3 weeks) overlapping the arrival of the Spaniards. They really get my fishing juices stirred up as they are the first near shore fish I pursue in the spring (don’t care much for mullet fishing).
This year was no exception. They showed up near the New River Inlet on April 15th but there was only one or two days that the weather allowed for boats to get out till now. Today was my first opportunity to chase them. TimC went with me, we went through the inlet a little before 7am and began looking for the birds that often give away the location of the Bonita school. We found a few and saw a couple of boats working the area but had no luck trolling so we continued on out for some structure in the Diver’s rock area.
Bingo, we got our first fish on and it tuned out to be a nice sized Bonita. In fact this would be Tim’s first ever Atlantic Bonito and the only one we caught today. We did manage a half dozen or so bluefish with the largest being about 2 pounds. It was a bit rough and the bite was shut-off so we headed back for the inlet around 11. But mission accomplished, we got the ole fishing juices primed and ready for the season!
I couldn’t go fishing today even though I heard reports from Wed. that some Bonito were caught. But my good friend Jim Sabella of Plan 9 charters had a charter out of NRI today and I ran into another friend this afternoon that also went to the Divers rock area out of NRI. Both of them caught plenty of Bonita - some trolling and some casting. They said there were about 25 - 30 boats there. So it is confirmed, they are HERE!