Last week, I highlighted the fascinating book, “The secret Life of Lobsters” by Trevor Corson, and it reminded me of my several trips to Maine, stripers and all, and then the remembrances of the Bert and I record albums “Bert and I Stem Inflation” and the sequel “Bert and I, Other Stories from Down East.”
These are a series of stories and vignettes dripping in typical droll Down East Maine humor, originated by Yale University students Marshall Dodge and Robert Bryan in the late 1950s and performed around campus. It highlights the quirkiness of rural Maine and its traditions, its fishing and boating traditions and dealings with the rest of the non-Down East universe. The title characters, Bert and I, are fishermen by trade, operating a motor vessel named Bluebird (and later after a disaster, Bluebird II), based out of Kennebunkport Maine.
Of course, here in Carteret County, we have our own faux “Down East,” the far eastern reaches of our drawn-out county.
So where did the term “Down East” come from and what does it mean? Much of coastal Maine, especially north of Portland, geographically leans decidedly to the northeast. Before motorized boats, goods for commerce were moved along the coast and up rivers and in lakes by sail power. Now with the prevailing winds along the Maine coast being southwest and boats traveling up the coast, were sailing ahead of the southwest wind, that is, sailing “down wind,” thus would comfortably sail, following the coast in a northeasterly direction. So, the boats were thus sailing down wind and in the direction of northeast up the coast, possibly from Boston, which was eventually contracted to “Down East!”
Now you know.
So, any fish Down East and along all of the Crystal Coast?
Water temperatures have gotten solidly into the mid to upper 70s, and if it’s big fish you are looking for, the cobia bite is going great with fish up to 60 pounds being weighed in, with both bait and buckram tails taking fish from Cape Lookout and the Lookout Bight, sweeping along the beach and port and deeper Intracoastal Waterway holes, which traditionally hold spawning fish.
You can also take a more active role and seek out menhaden bait balls and work them with artificials for actively feeding fish. Another indication that fish are in close is that Bogue Inlet Pier weighed in a couple of cobia to 34 pounds on Sunday. Typical pier baits have been bluefish and shad jigged up on Sabiki rigs.
On Sunday, I saw a great video by Capt. Roy Heverly (https://emeraldisleadventures.com/) showing the great action of a school of king mackerel skying and “busting” bait on the surface with their customers sight-fishing for kings. What a sight, and this was just a short distance out of Bogue Inlet.
So, the kings are in tight right now, tight enough that Bogue Inlet Pier anglers landed five kings this past Wednesday and six for the week to 30 pounds. Kings are also found from Cape Lookout to Beaufort Inlet and around structure. There are also plenty of blues and Spanish mackerel in the mix.
I don’t remember how many times I’ve been asked how could you catch a fish with all that bait out there? My RSVP is how do you expect to catch fish with NO bait out there? Well, most of the spring, we have had little or no bait in the Emerald Isle surf, and of course not unexpectedly, no fish to be caught. Well maybe the so-called proverbial tide has turned with bait in the Emerald Isle surf with Spanish and blues in blitz mode.
One smiling angler one evening landed Spanish to 29 inches and scores of bluefish on a 1-ounce knockoff Kastmaster spoon. Nice job! Bait equal fish equal smiling faces.
In the surf, there are still some pompano and sea mullet if you can scare up some sand fleas. Not sure where the red and black drum are though. Even two years ago, we were doing well on reds by now.
Inside, topwater drum bites are doing well, although I couldn’t get any hookups in a Highway 24 creek. By the way, the creek was full of any size bait you can imagine, just no feeding fish there. Bait doesn’t guarantee fish, but no bait is often the kiss of death.
There are catches of red and black drum, Spanish, blues, grays and sheepshead in the Morehead City Turning Basin arena, but I have also heard of anglers getting skunked in the very same port areas, Middle Marshes and Haystacks. Such are the annoying vagaries of catching!
There are also good reports of reds and black drum in the Swansboro marshes and big sheepshead if you have fiddlers, sea urchins or even sand fleas. Just work the hardest structure you can find.
Now looking forward, we are approaching the old drum fishery in the Neuse River, maybe the New River too, and there are already reports of Capt. Gary Dubiel (https://specfever.com/) hooking up with big old drum on his popping corks in the Neuse/Pamlico basin.
This fishery should be heating up as we soon get into summer. Get your popping corks and Owen Lupton rigs ready! For info on this required rig for bait fishing old reds by checking out https://www.saltwatersportsman.com/bull-redfish-in-north-carolinas-neuse-river/.
So how about ocean piers?
Oceanana Pier reports a good week with Spanish, blues, early and late, pigfish, croakers and pompano.
Bogue Inlet Pier had a slow week for bottom fishing with smallish sea mullet on sand fleas, blues, Spanish, pigfish, grays, sheepshead and some big pompano, but they had a breakout week in king land, landing 6 kings to 30 pounds and two cobia to 34 pounds. They also released a barracuda and saw breaching tarpon out from the pier.
Seaview Pier reports mullet, croakers, blues, Spanish and a good run of speckled trout. They have landed 10 kings so far this season.
Surf City Pier has had slow daytime fishing but better early and late and in the dark with Spanish, blues, croaker, mullet, spots and a couple 30-pound kings. They have reported 10 kings so far this season.
Jolly Roger Pier had a 33-pound king last week and a crevalle jack, along with Spanish and blues early and late in the day, sea mullet and a bunch o’ flounder.
Offshore, there are wahoo, yellowfin tuna to 90 pounds and blackfins, along with gaffer mahi, holding up at the usual locations – Big Rock to Swansboro Hole. Looks like an excellent mahi year.
Big blue marlin have started to show up in time for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament on June 11-20. See info at https://www.thebigrock.com/.
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.