The last few weeks, I mentioned that I have noticed “Oreo” calico crabs, juvenile calico crab snacks for hungry reds. So, I have been on a drum watch, hoping that one of my favorite fish will start to show in the Bogue Banks surf.
Checking my calendar from last year indicated the reds showed up in the surf in some numbers the first week of June … hmmmmmmmm! By Sunday morning after Saturday’s deluge, the wind shifted to the north, the water cleared, and we had a morning high tide and falling and a crisp feeling in the air, a relief from the record 90 degrees.
I trekked over the ramp at the point in Emerald Isle to Bogue Inlet, looking for some Spanish or blues. Finding none, I proceeded south and around the bend to the ocean side of the point, finding a nice sandbar and slough within casting distance. Working the back side of the bar drop-off with a Kastmaster, I was anticipating a drum or flounder feeding there. The beach side of these bars usually has a nice drop-off, holding disoriented small fish and crabs stirred up by the breaking waves on the bar … easy picking for a hungry fish.
Recently, I found flounder near the same area, but Sunday, nothing. So, I moved along the beach east to a white-water surf area where the bar got closer to the beach and started to work it with my three-fourths-ounce gold Kastmaster. Red drum are powerful fish and have no problem handling the white-water turbulence, again looking for easy crab or fishy snacks being tossed around and about. After a few casts, I felt a light tap, followed by a strong run against my drag, which is a typical drum signature.
Blues and Spanish are hit-and-run feeders, reds more browsers, and when they take an artificial bait, they accelerate forward, following and sucking down the bait generally without a hard hit and run out when hooked. Just a tap or bump is all you usually feel initially.
Since I had my trout rod, I had all I could handle and played yo-yo, in-and-out action with the red until I could use the surf to help beach the fish. If you are impatient and tighten your drag or try to muscle the fish, you can count on a pulled hook or broken line, so be patient and enjoy the ride.
After a fun 20 minutes, I was able to remove the hook and measured out the over-slot drum at 28.5 inches. After a little photo-op and revival, it swam off looking to continue its disrupted search for breakfast. As is also typical, since the fish walked me down the beach toward the inlet during the fight, I walked back to where I initially hooked the drum, and my first cast locked up with a second redfish, and in about 15 minutes, landed a slot near 27 inches, weighing in at a chunky 7.5 pounds. Both were beautiful clean fish.
After the first fish, my question was loner or schoolie? Well, I caught two, an angler a short way down the beach also landed a red drum bottom fishing with shrimp, so it appeared that a school was passing us by. If I had my bigger rod with more backbone, I probably would have landed the fish more quickly and may have gotten another one or two before they passed us by.
C’est la vie!
How is the fishing?
There are reds around in the surf at Fort Macon and Atlantic Beach, along the Morehead City docks, Taylor’s Creek docks along Front Street, in the Morehead City Port turning basin near the Coast Guard Station and the train trestle. Cut bait, live bait and artificials are catching fish. There are also fish around the Haystacks, along with some specks too.
As with this winter and early spring, there are reds in the Cape Lookout surf. My guess is the Shackleford Banks surf would also be a good bet. The Crystal Coast surf is also still producing some sea mullet, big pompano and a good black drum bite. Fishbites shrimp or sand fleas are good baits.
If you are looking for Spanish and blues, early is better around Fort Macon, and to a lesser extent, Bogue Inlet where the bite is disappointing. There’s just not much bait there right now.
The trout bite continues best in the New River and Neuse River and around Harkers Island. I even saw a speck landed from Bogue Inlet Pier over the weekend. The other trout, the grays, are also providing an excellent season with the biggest grays being jigged up at the nearshore reefs and rocks. You know the routine. Some fish are 3 to 7 pounds. Pretty nice grays!
The nearshore fishing continues to be good with lots of Spanish, blues and kings trolled up or on live or dead baits too. If you pass by places like the Keypost Rocks, you should be ready to jig up some flounder on live peanut pogies or Gulp! tipped bucktails. The biggest Spanish are usually landed while floating live bait, but I have also heard of some 6- and 7-pounders caught on the fly!
If it’s a big pull you want, amberjacks are on almost any structure: AR 330, The Hutton, Big 10/Little 10, Northwest Places and on the east side at AR 285. There are also plenty of sharks, spinners and blacktips in by-catch chum slick behind shrimp trawlers. By the way, the trawlers are getting loads of jumbo green-tails right now.
Piers and offshore
So how is pier fishing? Spanish and blues, some croakers, spots and pompano is the short answer.
Oceanana Pier reports slow early fishing but some mullet, Spanish and blues.
Bogue Inlet Pier had several king fishermen running around with bucktails while chasing a disinterested cobia estimated at 30 to 50 pounds. There are plenty of blues and a few Spanish but no kings. There were keeper and short flounder landed and still a few sea mullet and a few small summer spots. I even saw a keeper sheepshead over the weekend.
Seaview Pier reports mullet, pompano, blues and Spanish.
Surf City Pier reports a slow week, but anglers did land some Spanish and blues and flounder up to 3 pounds. No kings to report here either.
Jolly Roger Pier reports some flounder, trout and blues, yet again, no kings here either.
Cobia fishing is really hit and miss, and many of the fish are shorts or just above the legal limit. Some cobia have already gone back offshore and can be found on ledges like Big 10/Little 10 and Northwest Places, and others have passed us by and are already up in the Chesapeake.
In contrast, dolphin catches are on fire and will soon be coming in closer. There are a number of mahi-mahi being weighed in in the 40- to 50-pound range. That’s amazing if you think that these fish are only about 4 years old. The mahi are eating machines and spawn in their first year of existence. Quite a life … live fast and die!
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.