Summer provides us with some fish species that we don’t see the rest of the year, and with the oceans showing a warming trend some of the summer, visitors are becoming more and more common.
One of the species that continues to pop up with increasing frequency is the very delicious tripletail. In the past couple weeks, a 9-pounder was caught from Bogue Inlet Pier and another one was happily cruising around the cleaning table. There was a 12-pounder caught in the Neuse River, and I heard of another around Harkers Island.
So, what is a tripletail? Looking at them with their exaggerated and extended dorsal fin that extends almost to the tail, as well as the large, rounded anal fin along with the tail, gives the impression of a fish with three tails. These species is mainly a warm-water fish, often touted around the Gulf of Mexico oil rigs. They can be found as far north as Massachusetts riding the Gulf Stream north.
These fish are commonly caught in the 5- to 10-pound range but are known to top out at a whopping 40 pounds. I occasionally have found them floating on their sides at the far end of Bogue Inlet Pier, a common tactic, probably as a feeding tactic. They just look like floating debris, and when small fish approach, they can suck them down. Tripletails are opportunistic feeders, eating mostly small fish like pogies and anchovies but also snacking on the likes of shrimp and crabs.
With their flat body and “three” tails, they can provide a big pull on your tackle once hooked and will give you a fun, challenging fight. They have even been known to jump to throw your hook.
Suggested tackle is medium gear with 15- to 20-pound test line, a stout 25-pound fluorocarbon leader to ward off their razor-sharp gill plates and a rod with a fast tip and backbone to put some pressure on as you fight the fish. Also, since their bite is subtle, braided line will help in “feeling” the tripletail and also provide a quick hook set. Natural baits include small crabs, shrimp and small fish, but they also have been caught on artificials, particularly shrimp imitations, and even shrimp flies. Fish are often sight-cast while being observed around floating debris.
Let me know if you find any this summer and if they are one of the tastiest fish around. Good tripletailing!
I haven’t heard of any more tripletails caught this week, but we are certainly in mid-summer fishing patterns.
The best fishing has been early and late in the day to beat the heat. Drum fishing has been pretty good along the usual places in the marshes and Haystacks. I’ve heard of schools of reds in Ward’s Creek and North River.
As I mentioned last week, the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) docks in Morehead City and Core Creek are still producing fish, including on topwater. These areas are also yielding speckled trout on popping corks with both artificials and live mullet and shrimp. Interestingly, there are also reports of bull sharks in areas like the North River taking topwater baits meant for specks. This is not so far out since bulls pup in our backwaters, so we often see both adult and juvenile bull sharks in our back waters. I think they like the red drum there too. I have seen the bulls attacking feeding schools of red drum in the sand flats inside of Bogue Inlet. Along the ICW docks, you can also find good numbers of black drum and sheepshead. Think live shrimp and crab baits.
The old drum fishery is starting to crank up although still not at the summer’s peak. I have heard of good catches, as well as anglers getting skunked while using popping corks in the lower Neuse, specifically around Oriental. Be patient, they will be there soon and through September and early October. And don’t forget the New River stock too.
Floundering is still giving us one of the better seasons we have seen in a few years.
Giggers continue to do very well, in addition to hook-and-liners from the beach and ocean piers to the internal marches. The top baits are alive, yes, alive, particularly live mullet and mud minnows. Of course, the Morehead City Port structures are still yielding, that is, if you can read your tide charts or smart phone tide app and work around the slack tides.
While at Freeman’s Bait and Tackle on Monday, I saw a nice 4-plus pound flounder weighed in, which was caught on a live mullet somewhere from the Atlantic Beach surf. This angler has had good floundering success from the Atlantic Beach surf the last few weeks.
And don’t forget, be prepared to deal with the impending closure of flounder harvest. We should know by Friday, Aug. 23.
By the way, I’ve heard of some big croakers in the Atlantic Beach surf as well, big by North Carolina standards, that is.
How about pier fishing? “Painfully slow,” to quote my contact at Surf City Pier.
Oceanana Pier reports daytime slow, some Spanish and sea mullet late in the day and sea mullet at night.
Bogue Inlet Pier had a 20-pound king last week and some big Spanish on king rigs when we had clean green water. There were also a few black drum and decent sea mullet at night on sand fleas, but the fleas are getting harder to find. Over the weekend, there were several keeper flounder, a couple pushing 4 pounds. Again, live mullet and mud minnows were the best baits for keeper fish, and by the way, the fish were caught out by the cleaning table, not near the beach.
Seaview Pier reports sea mullet, black drum and croakers.
Surf City Pier is also “painfully slow,” but they have weighed in three big flounder in the past week: 5.5, 7.5 and 8.25 pounds. And again, no kings.
Jolly Roger Pier reports trout, spots, black drum and short flounder but no kings either.
Offshore around the Big Rock, the wahoo action has been excellent with some mahi-mahi and billfish.
Remember, from my years of following such things, we usually get our first ”mullet blow” from the last week of August to the first week in September. That is my start of fall fishing!
2) “Ask Dr. Bogus” is on the radio every Monday at 7:30 a.m. WTKF 107.1 FM and 1240 AM. The show is also replayed on Sunday morning at 6 a.m. Callers may reach me at 800-818-2255.
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