Before Hurricane Dorian gets here, we have already had our first “MULLET BLOW,” as well as a full week of northeast winds and mullets and Atlantic silversides filling our surfside waters.
This year, Aug. 26 was the magic date, which was the same as in 2018. The average date in the last 21 years I have tracked this event is Aug. 29. Why is this notable? Why do I track this event? It’s like tracking water temperatures, it influences the comings and goings of our fish.
Normally, the mullet blows mark the emergence of both the silver (finger) and striped mullet (hardhead, jumping) and are often associated with the emergence of massive numbers of silversides and anchovies, both French fries for fish. Then the predators appear: from nearshore, the blues; from offshore, Spanish, ladies, false albacore and reef flounder; and from our backwaters, the reds, specks and southern flounder emerge on the tails of these tasty baits fattening up for the winter to come.
So why do the mullet come out when they do? They are emerging into the ocean as they are readying to spawn in the fall and winter seasons. How do they know when to come out? No, it’s not really the water temperature, which is usually still in the 80s both in the sound and surf, it’s the other signs. Remember the Five Man Electrical Band: “Sign, sign everywhere, a sign blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign!”
So, what are the signs of fall? Certainly, water temperatures begin to drop, but even more so, other signs of fall coming are the diminution of hours of daylight, the position (angle) of sun, sulfur butterflies fluttering in the breeze and the ripening of sea oats. The mullet or spots, for that matter, don’t care about yellow butterflies or ripening sea oats, but they are keyed in to the south-going sun since the first day of summer and the lessening in the hours of daylight as fall approaches. These are probably the major keys.
Did you know as we approach the autumnal equinox and the sun is slipping south, we are losing over two minutes per day of daylight? The fish (and plants for that matter) somehow know this, and BOOM, out come the mullets and other fish, baits and predators alike.
Now for the week in fishing.
Of course, the big news was the mullet blow, but the clean ocean waters on the northeast wind all week and the appearance of, not only mullet, but schools of menhaden off piers finally fired up the king mackerel bite at Bogue Inlet Pier.
Several kings were caught, some broke off and some were eaten by sharks. The big-board fish was first the 38-pounder landed by Roger Brown of Pelletier, followed by the 42-pounder landed by Bobby Tyndall of Kinston. Both are long-term, pier-fishing, king-mackerel anglers.
Congrats Roger and Bobby.
The good catches of spackled trout, drum and flounder continue from the New River to Neuse River and places in-between like the Swansboro marshes to the Haystacks, including some of the local creeks, such as Core Creek, and at Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) docks. This year’s summer harvest of speckled trout has been outstanding. The fact that these fish are spread out in areas not normally targeted in the summer for trout indicates that there are lots of fish out there expanding their forage areas due to the large numbers.
I’m looking forward to a great fall trout run in the surf. Shrimp is abundant for bait or dinner (my preference), and so are finger mullet. As for flounder, beware that the drop-dead date for cessation of flounder harvest, both in the ICW and ocean water, was 12:01 a.m. today. The recreational fishery will reopen by proclamation on a date in 2020 not yet determined. For the proclamation terminating the flounder harvest, check out http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamation-ff-32-2019.
The muncher and cruncher bites are doing well, that is, black drum and sheepshead.
Crab baits, live shrimp and sea urchins are the baits of choice. These fish are around the oyster bars, ICW docks and ocean fishing piers. The great black drum bite this year is probably partly a result of the recent size and bag limits of the black drum.
I personally tried several locations without much success, specifically Pettiford Creek and Deer Creek, both full of bait but no predators. Until the mullet blow, the surf was very slow but looking up, however, we will have to wait until Dorian passes and the water settles out. I tried Sunday at the point in Emerald Isle, but the tough surf and strong littoral current made it almost impossible to fish.
How about pier fishing?
Oceanana Pier reports a good week with croakers, Spanish, blues, sea mullet and a 3-plus-pound speckled trout.
Bogue Inlet Pier had a good week of kings, landing several and losing a couple others, as previously noted. They also had some big Spanish, a few blues one rat red and short, keeper flounder to 4 pounds.
Seaview Pier reports Spanish, blues, sea mullet and some scattered trout and flounder.
Surf City Pier reports another slow week for sea mullet, scattered bottom fare and one king.
Jolly Roger Pier reports Spanish in the evening, sea mullet in the dark, pompano, some flounder and a few reds too.
The king mackerel bite has been good, with decent catches just off Bogue Banks and an excellent bite on the east side of the shoals. Bottom fishing remains good, especially on the east side, with grouper, snapper, triggers and amberjacks.
Finally, the Emerald Isle sea turtle season has been going great with over 40 nests and around 30 already hatched out.
This past weekend was tough, though, with rough surf and king tides over-washing some of the remaining nests, and now we’ll have to deal with Dorian.
For me, I’m battening down the hatches and hiding anything that I can’t tie down. Be safe out there and I’ll see you next week.
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.