The wind this spring has been relentless and had many fishing consequences: rough water, dirty rough water, boating advisories.
Have you ever tried to throw a Kastmaster into a 25-mile gale and expect a bluefish to see it through the mud? To quote the bard William Shakespeare, “Because thou art not seen, Although thy breath be rude.”
Talk about a rude breath it has been our spring, and now it’s time to get ready for another cold front later this week, and yes, you may have to cover your most tender of plants.
I mentioned the problem of fish seeing your bait. Sure, smell works with natural and unnatural smelly baits, but what about my aforementioned Kastmaster? So, what do fish really see? Here are some generalizations for fish we most often catch her in eastern North Carolina.
Most fish are nearsighted. Things up close and personal are clear, but at a distance, are fuzzy. Fish have binocular vision straight ahead but single vision to their sides, and unlike us, fish do not no necks to swivel their heads upon.
Our eyes, like our cameras, have an adjustable iris to control the amount of light coming into the retina, whereas most fish have essentially fixed apertures and no or poorly developed eyelids. They can’t squint!
So, often fish compensate by finding shade or going to deeper water as the sun rises in the sky. Many fish feed heavily at the end of the day and at night and have great night vision, like the speckled trout with eyes that take in as much as five times the light that ours do.
Also, to compensate, some fish have eye pigments that change with light intensity, kind of like sunglasses.
Did you know that large schooling and predatory fish have larger eyes compared to bottom feeders. “All the better to see you with, my dear.”
Predators also use contrast between background and their prey to sight their prey in silhouette. Predators also do key in at the eyes of prey to compensate for the natural body camouflage of the forage fish. Many of these characteristics of fish vision need to be taken into consideration, especially when designing successful artificial baits.
One aspect of fish vision that is poorly understood is their color vision. So, do fish see color? That’s only part of the question. You also need to know how color reacts in water.
Next week, I will address these important questions.
In spite of the amusement park rollercoaster ride the weather has thrown at us, the biologic imperative driving the fish seems to have won out as the fishing has been quite good in the past week, especially if you can hide from the weather or avoid the near-beach mud.
If you get out 3 to 5 miles out of Bogue or Beaufort inlets, you will find silversides and threadfin shad and hungry bluefish, including big choppers at Cape Lookout, albies, bonito, and yes, Spanish mackerel too in good numbers.
Trolling Clarkspoons or Yo-Zuri Deep Divers or jigging your favorite metal like Stingsilvers and Thingma Jigs will help fill your cooler.
There are also nice catches of some of the biggest gray trout we’ve seen in years. Then on top of that, one angler jigging for grays at AR 320 jigged up a surprise sheepshead weighing in at over 10 pounds. By the way, the sheepshead are here and tend to be not very fussy or timid as later in the season. Think the Morehead City Port wall and near bridges.
As with last year, the sea mullet bite is excellent, and that is from Beaufort Inlet into the turning basin, along the surf and from the ocean fishing piers. Also, don’t forget the Newport River pier on Radio Island. If you can find a nice hole along the surf, sea mullet can be found in good numbers and good size, and I’ve been told the sand fleas have returned along our beaches. This bodes well for close-in fish.
Pier catches have been good, but especially good at night. The nighthawks are doing especially well. If you can’t find a nice fish hole, you always have a good shot at finding something at Fort Macon where sea mullet, blues, Spanish and even gray trout and big spring pompano have been reported. I have also heard of slot red and black drum in the surf on shrimp or cut baits. Interestingly, flounder are already showing from the surf, the ocean piers and inside as well. But oh no, not to keep until mid-August.
The inside fishing is a bit spottier, but both red drum and black drum are being caught, along with speckled trout, often on topwater plugs. It doesn’t get better than that. Unfortunately, it has been hard to get specifics on location, location, location! I did hear that the usually reliable Core Creek has been slow. There are probably still good catches in the New and Neuse rivers.
Offshore, if you can find a less bumpy day to go, has produced good catches of yellow and blackfin tuna, citation wahoo and gaffer dolphin. If you want to bottom fish, the triggers are out-of-sight BIG.
Finally, it looks like Bogue Inlet Pier is preparing to open to the public Friday, May 15.
Also, the beach nourishment in the western side of Emerald Isle was completed on time, just in time for the beginning of sea turtle nesting season which began May 1.
Take care, be safe, catch fish and see you next week when we talk about fish sight and color.
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.