I’m sure by now you’ve completely forgotten your Jan. 1 New Year’s resolutions made in a haze of champagne and revelry, but as the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Tiger, approaches, you have a second chance on Feb. 1, so repeat after me…I RESOLVE...Hmmmmm what to resolve? How about this year, 2022, be dedicated to the conservation side of fishing?
Sure, we can resolve to fish more, we can learn more from books and clubs, we can study the action of our artificial baits, we can change out rusty hooks out and even learn a few more go-to knots and learn them well, but all this means nothing if we don’t take care of our amazing resource. So, what are some of the options?
On top of my list is trashing our beaches, piers and waterways, so don’t litter, and that includes discarded fishing line. And by the way, there are many places to deposit your line, like fishing piers, boat ramps and marinas. I know the bag limits and seasonal closing of many of our favorite species are restrictive and a moving target, but please follow current creel and size limits, return unwanted fish back to the water, even so-called “trash” fish.
Too often we all have seen fellow anglers taking multiple bag limits, particularly of trout and red drum. Remember it’s one bag limit per day, not per trip. One area that has gained much traction has been the practice of catch and release, keeping only fish you will eat and releasing alive and well the rest to fight another day.
Maybe you didn’t know it, but there is a local Crystal Coast chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association. Think about joining and becoming a fish activist. Another side of being an activist is to call in fishing violations that you observe. Keep these numbers on your speed dial, to N.C. Marine Patrol (1-800-682-2632) and Wildlife Resources Commission (1-800-662-7137).
Along with that, I know we always complain about said regulations we don’t agree with, always after the fact. One way to deal with that is to attend the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Commission public hearings. They are well published as per date, time and location, so get out there and be heard.
Finally, respect not only our fragile resources, but our fellow anglers. That is the best resolution of all, and the fishing will be better for us all.
By the way, four years ago this past week was our last fish stun-kill. During the first week that January, we entered a multiple-day frigid temperature regimen that resulted in not only troutsicles galore, but flounder, red and black drum and just about anything with fins.
On Jan. 7, 2018, I measured a surf temperature of 38 degrees at Bogue Inlet Pier and as low at 28 degrees in the icy slush of Bogue Sound. Some of the slot-size red drum escaped into the surf from the backwaters, which I was able to observe from the rafters of the pier where they were huddling in small groups, hoping for warmer temperatures and survival. Events such as these occur about every two to three years. Are we due for another fish kill?
For my summary of such cold-stun events over the last 20 years, go to: https://www.ncoif.com/vulnerability-of-the-spotted-sea-trout-to-cold-trout-stun-events/.
So how about the fishing, or should I emphasize catching?
This time of year, hard information is, yeah, hard to find, but here is what I have. Bogue Inlet Pier continues to produce good catches of puffers, I know they don’t stir up unbridled enthusiasm, but these fish are easy to catch on shrimp and Fishbites with a standard two-hook bottom rig and are some of the tastiest fish in the sea. You just need to work on the cleaning part!
One productive location in the summer and fall and spring, and yes, winter, is the Cape Lookout Rock Jetty. This time of year, you get a cornucopia of species, so here goes the list of recent catches by our local anglers and fishing guides: red and black drum, speckled and gray trout, sheepshead, sea bass and even some blues and sea mullet.
I’m surprised that I haven’t heard of any tautog being caught there, because they are frequently found there this time of year too. The black drum bite there is off the charts, many slot fish and above, including a 47-pounder! If you think a 47-pound black drum is impressive, this past week also produced trophy red drum around Cape Lookout Shoals, feeding on schools of menhaden. This is where you may also fine some giant bluefin tuna competing for the plentiful shad.
One trip highlighted by Capt. Joe Tunstall and Wayne Justice reported catch and release of a goodly number of these prime breeders. You, of course, can use cut bait, but it’s easier and safer to throw BIG bucktails and BIG soft plastics, mimicking the shad on which they are actively feeding. So, this is where the old drum go once they leave their summer Neuse/Pamlico spawning grounds!
So Happy New Year 4720. The year of the Tiger is connected to flowing water, rivers or clouds and a symbol of power, prestigiousness (sic), and loneliness. By the way, I’m a Monkey, and “Gung Hay Fat Choy” to all my readers!
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.