Purple jelly beans/Tentacles searching for fish/Ouch, I'm not the prey!
This haiku highlights this year’s return of the dreaded Portuguese man-of-war, blown in along with sargassum weeds from the Gulf Stream on recent gale force winds.
First of all, the Portuguese man-of-war are not true jellyfish but are in the class known as Hydrozoa. These are siphonophores made up of four animals working together synergistically to produce a Portuguese man-of-war, none of which can survive independently…truly one of nature’s beautifully evolved critters.
When you see a Portuguese man-of-war floating in the water or washed up onto the beach, you immediately notice several main features, the pretty iridescent blue color, the gas-filled balloon and possibly the long tentacles which can extend out many 10s of feet and are loaded with venomous stinging nematocysts.
These stinging cells are normally intended to stun or kill their prey, small fish and such, but along and on our beaches, we become the unfortunate victim. The stings can be very nasty but are rarely lethal.
By the way, did you know a component of the gas-filled sail is carbon monoxide, which is made by the Portuguese man-of-war? Did you know that the gas-filled bubble allows the Portuguese man-of-war to sail in a 45-degree angle to the wind? It’s their main mode of transportation!
In general, jelly fish stings are treated with vinegar, possibly baking soda and often meat tenderizer, but with the Portuguese man-of-war, the literature is filled with confusing claims. Your best bet is gently washing off the stung areas with sea water, followed by hot water. Similar to getting stung by sting rays, both of their toxins are successfully degraded by heating, so hot water is a good cheap remedy.
And please avoid “folk remedies” which may just make the situation worse. Systemic effects like dizziness, fever, rapid heartbeat or nausea, etc., should be treated by a medical professional.
How about protective lotions? Yes, there are a number of them out there, products made by Sea Safe, Neutrogena Beach Defense and others often combine protection from the stings and SPF sunscreen protection as well.
Next week, I will actually talk about true jellyfish found in the waters along the Crystal Coast and a few other interesting beach critters. What is a sea hare? Have you ever seen a blue button? Next week!
Now for the fishing stuff.
As with 2019, the first week of June brought us this year’s invasion of those speckled crabs along the surf, the lady crabs and not far behind them our decent run of red drum. The reds love them, especially the juvenile crabs with bodies the size of Oreo cookies, and we are benefactors.
The only problem has been the gale-force winds and dirty water that dampened the redfish bite and made it nearly impossible to fish.
Aside from slot and above reds last week, there were blues, a few Spanish mackerel, and I also hooked a BIG something in a big splash and big dash! Probably a big shark ate my Kastmaster and headed due south, smoking my drag. Realizing that I was really overmatched, I pointed my rod tip toward the streaking fish, grabbed my spool and broke it off, thus breaking my line at the two-foot leader rather than at the spool and losing 150 yards to a probably shark.
Better for both of us.
One day last week, hiding from the gale-force wind, I tried one of the Highway 24 creeks, which was M3 with bait…menhaden, mullet and mud minnows, but no “real” fish eating them. Very disappointing. I know people are looking for finger mullet for bait. As usual, this year’s crop of finger mullet that get big enough to avoid getting gill-netted in a 3/8-inch cast net will be ready for the Fourth of July. There are also quite a few shrimp around, but they are still small-bait size, not eating size yet.
Near the beach when the wind is under control, the Spanish bite is still excellent, along with blues, in addition to kings in the 20s of pounds, although none have been landed from Bogue Inlet Pier yet this season, but I expect soon.
Inside, the marsh bite for specks and reds is good and you can use bait if you want, but both are taking topwater baits with a vengeance. The other trout bites are still doing well from the nearshore reefs and in the Morehead City Port area.
There are also nice catches of black drum in internal waters, while the sheepshead bite appears some of the best in years and the fish are big. And many of the tackle shops have fiddlers for bait, but note, the biggest sheepshead I have ever landed have been on live shrimp from the Swansboro bridge pilings, pulled from an eddy on the down-current side of the bridge piling.
The surf, as I mentioned, is yielding reds, but there are still black drum, sea mullet, croakers, small spots and pigfish. There are also encouraging numbers of juvenile flounder from 8 to 12 inches, so I’m keeping my eye on Aug. 16 for the opening of this year’s flounder season. Think Fort Macon, New Bern Street, DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in Atlantic Beach and in Emerald Isle at 3rd Street and around Bogue Inlet Pier. And the sand fleas are very abundant this year.
For our fishing piers, Oceanana Pier reports Spanish, blues, black drum, spot, and croakers.
Bogue Inlet Pier, when the weather and water cooperated, reported blues and Spanish early last week, sea mullet at night into early dawn, pigfish, croakers and bait-sized spots and pompano. They also had a tarpon hooked and lost.
Seaview Pier reported blues, Spanish, sea mullet, red drum and a lost king mackerel. Good news!
Surf City Pier reported a great week with sea mullet Spanish, blues and pompano.
Jolly Roger Pier reported Spanish and blues early and late, sea mullet, black drum, some pups and flounder, some of which would have been keepers.
Offshore? This week is THE Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, including “His Airness,” Michael Jordan aboard his boat Catch 23! Take care, be safe and catch some fish.
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.