In the past year, we have been confronted by two major hurricanes, Florence and Dorian, two radically different storms considering wind, rain and duration and track of the storms resulting in equal radically different outcomes.
The effects of such coastal storms are quite varied. First, due to rough seas and wind, we get mixing ofoastal waters, usually lowering the surface temperature. Along with the rough seas and wind and currents, sand is shifted. Florence resulted in the loss of sand far enough offshore that it was unlikely to naturally return, so many areas of Bogue Banks were nourished with sand over the winter and early spring, the dunes rebuilt and grass planted. On the other hand with Matthew a few years ago, sand was deposited on our beaches, raising our beach strand as much as four feet. Preliminary observations indicate that Dorian was a net depositor of sand ,and the rebuilt dunes and vegetation remained intact.
One major difference between Florence and Dorian was rainfall due to duration and track, with the slow moving Florence reaching well inland and dumping over 2 feet of rain and up to 30 inches in some locations. Dorian skirted the coast, and its faster movement left only 4.29 inches of rain in my NOAA rain gauge.
Our rivers, creeks, sounds and near coastal regions in the ocean sustained a major slug of fresh water, lowering the salinity to nearly zero in many locations. This influx of fresh water also flushed unknown quantities, hazardous chemicals and nutrients into our waterways and also dropped the ambient dissolved oxygen to levels that threatened our fin and shellfish. We all remember the dramatic images of dead fish along our highways and byways. Many of the finfish were able to outrun the fresh and oxygen-depleted water and get to safety. Our shellfish … well, not so fortunate. We remember just a few years ago when shrimp came out in a massive pulse in response to heavy rains and also when the southern flounder evacuated our backwaters earlier than their normal journey offshore to their winter spawning grounds.
Other effects include displacement of recreational and commercial species of fish and baitfish. Schools of menhaden, silversides and anchovies along the beach get broken up and move offshore to deeper water. Ditto for blues, Spanish mackerel and other target species. Inside baits such as shrimp and mullets get flushed out in to the ocean. In fact, on Saturday after the storm, there were large schools of finger mullet passing Bogue Inlet Pier in a mullet blow-type event.
After storms like this, we often get a northerly wind that settles down the rough surf, allowing the suspended mud and silt to settle out, clearing up the dingy water and allowing the baits to regroup in just a few days. Also, as with the case of the southern flounder I mentioned above, we will have many of the internal target species come out into the surf too. This may include spots, speckled trout, red and black drum, among others, avoiding poor water conditions as well as following the abundant bait flushing out into the ocean.
Since this is just a few days post Dorian, I don’t have a lot of new fishing (i.e. catching) information, but the little I do seems encouraging.
The inside trout and drum bite remains good inside, but there has also been a noticeable uptick in fish along the surf and the remaining Bogue Banks piers.
By the way, both Oceanana and Bogue Inlet piers are open and in great shape, surviving Dorian, and the fishing has picked up. Oceanana Pier reports blues, and interestingly, spots Monday morning, and Bogue Inlet Pier had good catches of blues, speckled trout and juvenile “rat reds” on Sunday and Monday.
In the Atlantic Beach surf, catches of black drum have been reported, along with slot and above red drum, both caught on sand fleas. There have also been a resurgence of bluefish into the several-pounds range, something we haven’t seen since the spring and reports of several speckled trout showing too.
As far as some bits and pieces, I have heard from several sources concerning excellent catches of red drum in the Coast Guard Channel in Emerald Isle. I will definitely check that out this week.
Also, with the speckled trout showing in the surf, it’s time to give the Radio Island rock jetty a try. In recent years, the Radio Island jetty has been the hot spot early in the fall trout season, especially for big fish.
Finally if you want to check the coastal effects of Dorian, check out this NOAA website. It has great high-resolution aerial photos of the coastal areas, very cool./.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/dorian/index.html#18/34.89809/-76.25764.
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.