As I write this report, it’s Monday morning here in Emerald Isle and yet again another Red Flag Day on our south-facing beaches with fresh memories of more tragic drownings.
Red flags or not, be careful out there.
This week, instead of a tome on technique or species, here’s some bits and pieces.
Let’s start with safety. This past Saturday was the third Saturday of the month, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary was performing its complementary boat safety inspections at the wildlife boat ramp in Emerald Isle. Inspections are free and without penalty but can help boaters and guests have a safe boating season. Check out the Swansboro Auxiliary for boat inspection opportunities and boating classes at http://swansboroaux.com/. By the way, the pretty weekend ensured very busy boat ramps along the Crystal Coast.
Also, this past Saturday, my wife, Louise, and I, and daughter, Gretchen, from San Francisco took one of the bird boating cruises. We had a spectacular two-hour cruise around the Swansboro marshes looking for shore birds with expert and friendly guides and other friendly birders.
You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy this trip. The favorites were the oyster catchers and chicks running around on, of all places, an oyster bar. These excursions are put on by the N.C. Coastal Federation. The cost is moderate, and you get a discount if you are a member. Check them out at http://www.nccoast.org.
The last piece of business for today concerns the cobia carcass collection program.
This is a perfect opportunity for you angler “citizen scientists” to help out with our understanding of cobia stocks. Either the cobia catch is not strong this year or people are not returning the harvested cobia carcasses to one of many collection centers.
So, if you do keep a cobia, take its vitals of length and location and keep the head, tail and internal organs intact and return it to a collection center.
County collection coolers that will be checked daily include Chasin’ Tails, Freeman’s, Carolina Princess, the yacht basin and Capt. Stacy, along with NCDMF Offices and CMAST at the loading dock on Arendell Street (http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/carcass-collection).
A variety of catches
So how was the fishing the past week?
Piers and near-beach fishing are loaded with Spanish mackerel, and plenty of bluefish from the beaches out to seven miles.
With the water warming, bonito are continuing their spring run north. Clark and drone spoons, depending on what your target is – Blue Water Candy Thingama Jigs, Spanish Candy metals and YoZuri Deep Divers – will catch you a mess of fish.
A few weeks ago, there were big chopper blues showing at Cape Lookout and on the east side at AR 285, but they really haven’t shown up at the piers, inlets or surf. The biggest fish at Bogue Inlet Pier is only around 5 pounds. Kings are all over the place, from Ars, like 345, out to Southeast Bottoms and to the east Northwest Places.
The flounder bite is improving. Of course, as has been the trend, the nearshore reefs, even out to 10 miles or so, are the hot spots with mud minnows or bucktail jigs tipped with Gulp! shrimp. If you jig the bottom, the gray trout bite is the beast. Yes, the best in recent memory, and some fish are over 5 pounds.
There are a few nice-sized fish arriving in the marshes around Harkers Island, the Newport River and Emerald Isle and Swansboro marshes. Also, if you get the tide right, think working the Morehead City Port Wall and nearby train trestle and over to the Coast Gard Station area around Fort Macon. There is a big pile of junk there, and it holds flounder, sheepshead and the drums.
As we approach Memorial Day, the sheepshead bite is also heating up. Good spots are the port area, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle and Swansboro bridges, any docks along the Intracoastal Waterway and the rocks around the Fort Macon Jetty. And if we get some clean water, the ocean fishing piers should produce.
Live shrimp, fiddlers, sand fleas, sea urchins and any other bits and pieces of accessible crab parts are your best bet, although I did see a You Tube video where crab flies caught nice fish.
Bottom fishing is good along the surf if you find the holes around Black Skimmer and Third Street in Emerald Isle, the Iron Steamer Pier in Pine Knoll Shores or holes around either Bogue Inlet or Oceanana piers. There have been good catches of black drum, rare redfish, pompano and big sea mullet. Think sand fleas!
Trout and drum from New River to the Neuse River is holding steady on bait, Gulps! and top-water baits, but it’s almost impossible to gather hard info on “where da fish?”
I have done some fishing at the Croatan National Forest in Cedar Point and in Pettiford Creek, both outcrops of the White Oak River, without any success this week.
Piers and offshore
So how are the fishing piers doing? Think Spanish and blues.
Oceanana Pier reports Spanish, blues, hogfish and croaker early in the week.
Bogue Inlet Pier still has a good mullet bite, but it’s back to being best in the dark, particularly early in the predawn hours. They also put on the “board of fame” a speck, keeper flounder and a nearly 5-pound blue this week, and I saw a black drum that was in the teens that gave into a sand flea. They lost a couple of kings last week but no strikes recently. Nice to see kings are here already, and the boats are landing them very close to the beach too.
Seaview Pier reports Spanish and blues and sea mullet but no kings as they still are lacking their king zone on the pier.
Surf City Pier reports, you guessed it, Spanish and blues, pompano, diminishing sea mullet and several kings this week, landed and missed.
Jolly Roger Pier … yup … Spanish and blues, pompano and some keeper flounder.
Offshore from the Big Rock to the Swansboro Hole, there are really great catches of mahi-mahi up to 30 pounds and lesser wahoo and tuna bites. In a bit closer, there are mahi also being caught at the 90-Foot Drop and even one just a few miles off the beach. We don’t see them close to the beach until July and August. Please note, grouper are in season, and limits of the big fish ae not uncommon.
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.