French fries for fish … glass minnows … they are forage for many fish eaters, and yes, they can’t eat just one!
But glass minnows is actually a collective description of two unrelated species of small “see-through” bait fish with that distinctive horizontal silver stripe down each side. Who are among the French fry eaters? Spanish, blues, Atlantic bonito and false albacore, gray and speckled trout, flounder, red drum and more are the predators of these diminutive but high-value forage.
First is the Atlantic silversides. These fish, also known as spearing or shiners, only reach a few inches in length and show up in large schools and have to survive attacks from below and above, namely fish and birds alike. Watching the birds is a great way of identifying these schools and also looking for splashes of fish feeding beneath them.
These fish have an olive-colored back, near-clear body with that distinctive silver stripe and a small mouth forward of their eyes. They are found from Maine to the Carolinas and are omnivores, feeding on small-fry fish, eggs and larvae, and worms and other zoo plankton. These fish spawn after their first year in the spring and summer, in our marshes during the full and new moons and rarely survive into their second year. Like some fish and many reptiles, the sex of the juvenile fish is determined by the water temperature from about four to six weeks during their development.
The other glass minnow is the striped or bay anchovy, often and easily confused with the silversides. They in found from Nova Scotia to Florida in coastal waters out to the Continental Shelf. When being eaten by hungry fish and birds, it’s hard to tell them apart from the silversides, but the wide “smiley” mouth ending behind their eyes clearly identify them as filter feeders as they swim through the water with their open mouths feeding on plankton. The anchovies are usually 4 to 5 inches in length, but I’ve seen some up to 8 inches. Maturing in their third to fourth years, they spawn in the spring and summer from our sounds to a few miles offshore.
Since these fish are French fries for many species of fish, but fragile and hard to keep alive, artificial imitations are often used to catch target fish that feast on these baits. Small metals like Stingsilvers, Kastmasters, Deadly Dicks and Clark Spoons, and more recently, glitzy metals like Spanish Candy or Blue Water Candy Thingama Jigs. On the fly, Clousers are the best imitations with olive-over-white bucktail with flash in the middle, mimicking the distinctive silver stripe.
Big fish of week
Now for the local fishing.
The big fish of the week goes to the 50-pound gag grouper recently weighed in at Chasin’ Tails. Congrats to Christopher Morlock on a great fish and his buddy, Jerry Wise, who weighed in a 33-pound gag!
By the way, Murlock’s catch is possibly a new state record, beating the current record of 48 pounds. Go for it, Christopher!
I don’t know where these monster gags were caught, but there have been reports of fish on the east side of Cape Lookout Shoals and out of Beaufort at 210 and 240 rocks and AR 305. Bring your cigar minnows and some live pinfish.
Speaking of big fish, the old drum season is in full swing with many citations already from the Neuse fishery.
Remember, these are spawning fish. Get them in quickly and revive them before releasing them back to the river. Fish are being caught on required Owen-Lupton-type bait rigs, popping corks with soft plastic and on the fly with Capt. Gary Dubiel’s Pop-N-Fly rigs. That’s got to be a blast!
Sizing down a bit, the waning flounder season is still producing some of the best catches in the last few years.
The places haven’t changed: the nearshore reefs and rocks, and inside at Intracoastal Waterway docks and bridges, and of course, the Morehead City Port wall and surrounding structure like the train trestle.
Gulped! bucktails get plenty of fish, but for the biggest doormats, you can’t beat a live mullet, a live BIG mullet that is on a 2/0 or 3/0 Kahle hook. If you fish the port, try to time the tides around the slack tides to beat the current. Carolina rigs with about 2-ounce sinkers should be enough to stay on the bottom before the tide really rips.
Speaking of hot-hot-hot, the trout bite is still on fire.
Work the docks around Morehead City and Beaufort, especially at night, and you can’t beat live shrimp for nice citations. Going up the Newport River and Core Creek to Clubfoot Creek and Adams Creek and Back Creek are still hot targets. And if you work the ends of the day – first and last light, that is – the topwater bite is also still holding up.
Oh, don’t forget the citation fish in the New River where there should be some old drum.
Speaking of fishing the docks with live shrimp, there have been some great catches of sheepshead by a friend working the docks along the ICW.
He was working the ICW docks out of Gales Creek. Fish to 8 pounds were reported, along with some drum and trout. Also don’t forget the Carteret Community College and N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries docks. They always have fish.
Spanish and blues are still available from the piers and outside the inlets, around Cape Lookout and also around Bird Shoals and Radio Island.
There are Spanish from the surf around Fort Macon, and there was also a report of some briefly around the point in Emerald Isle. Again, the west surf on Bogue Banks is slow, but there are some catches to the east, including pompano and some sea mullet.
Piers and offshore
How about pier fishing? Still yet again … summer slo-o-o-o-o, but here are some kings starting to finally show.
Oceanana Pier reports red drum, Spanish and keeper flounder.
Bogue Inlet Pier has had plenty of crabs (mostly calico), some small bottom fish, croakers, spots, sea mullet and pompano, all small. There are some 14.5-inch flounder, as well as several nice keeper flounder, one over 4 pounds, and finally, a couple king mackerel hookups, but none got on to the deck. Surprisingly, there was also an 8.9-pound triple tail and another one spotted around the cleaning table but thwarted efforts to be caught. Every year or two, a few show up.
Seaview Pier reports keeper flounder, black drum and sea mullet.
Surf City Pier reports flounder and Spanish and a run of kings (five) over last weekend.
Jolly Roger reports a decent week with blues, Spanish, sheepshead, along with croakers, black drum and a few trout. There were no kings landed but several lost fish, so there are kings around.
If It’s some big fish you want, dolphin are still at the 90-Foot Drop and 14 Buoy and wahoo out around the Big Rock and the Rise, and some recently weighed in that were caught east of the shoals again.
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.
3) I’m located at 118 Conch Ct. in Sea Dunes, just off Coast Guard Road, Emerald Isle, NC 28594. The mailing address is P.O. Box 5225, Emerald Isle, NC 28594. Don’t forget a gift certificate for your favorite angler for fishing lessons or my totally Bogus Fishing Report subscription. Please stop by at any time and say “Hi” or call 252-354-4905.