It’s turtle-nesting season here along the Atlantic Coast and North Carolina, and it looks to be a banner year so far in Emerald Isle with over two dozen nests already in the ground.
The incubation temperature of sea turtle eggs, alligators and other reptiles is a determinant in the relative numbers of male and female offspring. Here in North Carolina, we are in the northern range of loggerhead turtles, the main sea turtles that nest here.
Although we don’t have the numbers of turtle nesting here as in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, the fact that we are in the northern range is important since the cooler temperatures here produce a higher percentage of male turtles versus females than climes to our south. One can only wonder about the effect of climate change as we go forward.
We are all familiar with impending regulations concerning southern flounder harvest here in North Carolina to compensate for decades of overfishing. Season closures commercially and recreationally will be likely implemented by late August and will be for some years to come to revitalize our flounder stocks. Ironically, this year seems to be one of the best floundering in the past several years.
With sea turtles, water temperature is also a determinant in the male-to-female ratio during development of juvenile flounder. This has come out in a recent study from researchers from N.C. State University by J. L. Honeycutt et.al. in Scientific Reports that can be accessed at www.go.ncsu.edu/male-flounder.
The researchers looked at juvenile flounder in the wild, geographically north and south in state waters, as well as in controlled tank studies, and found large differences in the male-to-female ratios as a function of temperature. Specifically, they determined that a change of 4 degrees Celsius (7.3 degrees Fahrenheit) shifted the ratio from about 50:50 to 94:6 … WOW! With the increase in temperature, females were being transformed into functional males.
The possible effect on commercial and recreational harvest of flounder would be dramatic both in the decrease of female fish needed for reproduction and the fact that most male southern flounder never reach legal minimum harvest size. Almost all the legal-size (currently 15 inches) southern flounder are females. The males rarely exceed around 13 inches in length. Yet again another impact of climate change. Food for thought!
Flounder bite hot
So how is the fishing? Oh, the flounder fishing is as good as it’s been in years, not only on the nearshore artificial reefs and wrecks and ledges, as well as the Morehead City Port at the wall and bridges and train trestle, but the local marshes have been producing limits of big flounder as well.
That includes from Swansboro to Emerald Isle and to the Newport River and Harkers Island.
Inside fishing is best with live baits, mud minnows, finger mullet, which are now getting big enough to cast net without aggravation, and live shrimp. I’ve seen photos of 4- to 8-pound flatties. The surf and piers continue to be slow for flounder catches, but there are some keepers out there too.
Sheepshead bite good
Another summer guest is sheepshead, and the bite there is also very good in numbers and size.
You know the routine: HARD structure and live baits. Fishing piers have produced some nice fish, as well as the train trestle and port wall and around the Fort. Macon Coast Guard Station.
Also try the Swansboro bridges, the Emerald Isle high-rise bridge, the Atlantic Beach and Morehead City bridges, and you should give the new Beaufort high-rise bridge a try before everyone else does. Live baits include fiddlers, sand fleas, sea urchins and live shrimp.
Surf and geography
Although surf fishing is slow, geography makes a difference.
The area in Emerald Isle around the point and Bogue Inlet looks pretty and fishy but has had no bait and not many fish, just scattered reds, a few flounder and almost no Spanish or blues.
Except for a few killifish and tiny shads, I haven’t seen any silversides or menhaden. And except for some terns picking off tine shad, there is scant bird-feeding activity. On the other hand, there have been good catches of Spanish and blues on the east end of Bogue Banks around Fort Macon, especially early and late in the day. Try the Spanish Candy and other new flashy baits!
Big specks to be had
As has been the case for many months now, there are big specks to be had early in the day on topwater baits.
Think Neuse and New rivers. There are also big specks, 20-plus inchers, in the feeders off Core Creek.
Nearshore fishing for Spanish and kings is still great from 2 to 10 miles out and around Cape Lookout where some bigger blues are also to be found, not gators but half-gators.
The east side of the shoals is still producing monster kings.
I know it’s still early in the season, but there are also old drum starting to show in the Neuse River. We have been on a run of excellent big drum for several years in a row. I have heard of some big reds as early as May and into June, now July, as this fishery is still heating up. Take your pick, Pop-n-Fly, cut bait and popping corks with soft plastics.
Piers and offshore
Oceanana Pier reports Spanish early, sea mullet and some red drum. They also weighed in several specks over 4 pounds.
It was a slow week at Bogue Inlet Pier with scattered mullet, croakers, spots, very small flounder a few Spanish and blues early, and some very nice pompano and sheepshead to 6 pounds. No silversides to be found to hold the predators. There were still pods of tarpon passing about 200 feet out, and no kings hooked this week.
Seaview Pier reports blues and Spanish, red drum, spots and a few small flounder. No kings.
Surf City Pier reports Spanish early in the morning, spots and sea mullet at night. They also reported one smallish king early last week.
Jolly Roger Pier reports very slow fishing this week, a few blues early and some sea mullet.
Offshore, the wahoo bite, after a slow start, is starting to fire up out around the Big Rock where there are blackfin tuna as well.
The mahi bite is still excellent as close as Northwest Places and out at the 14 Buoy, where nice kings have been caught too.
The recent water temperature there has been 82 degrees.
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.