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.”
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 don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some spring fishing! I just returned from a 3 week mission trip to Kenya and Tanzania so it has been awhile since I wet a line. I’ve been talking to my fishing buddies to get the latest fishing reports for Topsail Island and the surrounding waters. Now I hope to get out this week-end and do some fishing. Here’s what I have gleaned from the reports:
Plenty of slot sized red drum (18 - 27”) are schooled up and can be found in shallow water, usually less than a foot. They may be in small deeper holes that are protected from the channel by shallow water in between. They are hiding from the dolphin which can’t get in the skinny water. So check the back of the creeks of the ICW and use a rapidly moving bait over the flats. One buddy caught over 35 red fish in just a few hours one day this week. A few specks are also being caught, a few in the 3-5 pound range too. Late March and early April are great times to fine the big specks at the mouths of creeks off of the New River. A few nice size flounder have been caught but you have to be very patient right now, work you bait slowly or if you can find some live bait, that is the best option for flounder right now.
I have an unconfirmed report of Atlantic Bonito about 12 miles offshore. Another few weeks and they should be showing up inside of the 5 mile range. A few blues are being caught and some sea mullet. Offshore some nice size cobia and a few yellowfin tuna have been reported. Some nice African Pompano were caught earlier this week in the Gulf Stream off of Cape Fear.
I hope you are able to get out and catch some, be sure to post a report and some pictures in our forums when you do!
Several years ago I was introduced to vertical jigging, the version invented by the Japanese in the 1990s. Some call it YoYo jigging, others butterfly jigging, some simply call it vertical jigging. I call it fun by what ever name you choose to use.
With this style jigging, the hook is rigged above the lure so that when you fight the fish, the lure dangles to the side. In a traditional metal lure jig, the jig can actually act as a crow bar and cause the hook to pull out of the fish’s mouth. The other big difference is in the gear used. Most folks use a parabolic rod that bends all the way through the handle, this gives the angler more control and a better feel for what the fish is doing. Braid line and a fast retrieve reeltare the other key equipment. When you fight a fish with this gear, its your skill and strength against the fish, no boat, planers, heavy rods, etc. Just you and the fish.
Then of course is there is the lure. My favorite for bottom critters as well as many mid-column fish is the Roscoe jig from Bluewater Candy Lures in Hampstead, NC. The lure comes in 2.5, 4 & 7 ounce versions and is shaped somewhat like a squid. It utilizes glow paint on the body with a touch of pink, brown or blue on the tip. I have personally caught cobia, flounder, five species of grouper, amberjacks (greater & lessor), African Pompano, grunts, black sea bass, trigger fish, king mackerel and three species of shark. I probably left a few off the list but you get the idea.
The video seen here is the intro to the full length version. To see the entire video, which was produced by my good friend Randy Durham, owner of Credence Pictures, visit the Bluewater Candy website, its on the front page.
In addition to many tackle shops, you can buy some online at Tackle Monkey.com
Disclosure: I perform some marketing and other work for BWC lures under contract. But I wouldn’t promote their product here if I didn’t fully believe in it. It just works!
Lately I have had a hankering to try the Carolina Beach area for some doormat sized flounder. Every year we hear about big flounder being caught there. We catch some nice ones here too, don’t get me wrong. Its just that with a couple of tournaments coming up in the next few weeks I thought I’d try that area.
It takes a while to learn a new area, there is lots of water in the CB & Snow’s Cut area. Not to mention the area of the Cape Fear River near Snow’s cut. My buddy from Sneads Ferry, Allen, and I headed out about 8 am and ran the ditch down there. We founds lots of nice looking spots. But we didn’t find lots of fish :( We boated one nice fat Speckled trout and a 15/16 inch flounder at the side of the boat who got off before we could get a net underneath. That was it. But we had fun exploring new areas. Maybe we’ll try again some day, when the grass seems greener again…....
Yesterday I had the privilege of participating as a volunteer in the Wound Warrior fishing event at Seaview Pier at North Topsail Beach. This is the 3rd annual pier fishing event put on for these Amercian Heroes from the Wounded Warrior barracks at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Each one of these young men were wounded proudly serving our country in Iraq or Afganistan. This event is one of the ways we as a community are using to try to show these guys how much we appreciate them and that they are not forgotten.
This was my second year serving as a volunteer. We had twenty-four marines and three wives. We cut bait, take fish off hooks, show these guys how to use the gear, get their water, whatever they need. They seem somewhat overwhelmed at times by our anxiousness to help them enjoy a day of fishing. Many of them had never been fishing in saltwater and all seemed to have a blast taking a day away from the rigors of the routines of treatments, therapy, medical tests, etc.
But the best part is getting to know these guys. Listening to their stories. Hearing about their love for their country and their dedication to serve it proudly. To a man they all want to go back to the fight once they are recovered. Some will not be able to go because of their injuries but they still want to go. Some will talk more than others about their experiences overseas but from each you can sense their pride, not in themselves but in their country and the Marine Corps role in protecting our country.
They caught a lot of fish yesterday, blues, mullet and a few Spanish. They made a lot of new friends. They warmed the heart of a few old codgers like me. True Heroes are these men, Heroes indeed!
Mike Hall, Jr. of Hampstead caught the new state record Yellowfin Grouper (aka Fireback grouper) jigging off the coast of Topsail Island. Mike is a senior at Topsail High School and was fishing with his dad and David Mason aboard David’s boat the “Knot Kiddin”. He was using the Roscoe Jig from Blue Water Candy Lures.
They had been trolling all day without much luck. They decided to make one last stop and do a little bit of jigging. When Mike pulled up the fish, he knew he had a very nice grouper but had no idea it would beat the world record Yellowfin Grouper by half a pound. They proceeded back to the dock and didn’t even have the fish weighed until the next day.
When they weighed the fish the next day they learned that they had a record setting fish and called the NC Divsision of Marine Fisheries who sent a Biologist over to check the fish and certify it for the record. As it turns out even though the fish beat the world record by 8 ounces, the IGFA rules diswalified it from the record because when the fish was first hooked up the rod was passed to Mike from his dad. IGFA rules require that only one angler can touch the rod for the fish to count as a world record. Mike will hold the state record as NC has no such arcane rule.
On a side note, the new Roscoe Jig from Blue Water Candy now has been used to catch to new state record fish, this grouper and an Amber Jack caught last month. Way to Go ROSCOE!