I have been a surf fisherman for many, many years, fishing the rocks of Maine and beaches of Cape Cod for stripers and Rhode Island for flounder.
I was brought up in southern Connecticut fishing Long Island Sound from the surf, family vacations fishing the surf in Fenwick Island Delaware and Ocean City Maryland and the southern beaches of Long Island. Later in life, there was the surf of southern New Jersey from Cape May to Wildwood and the last nearly 30 years here along the Crystal Coast of central North Carolina.
Each beach has unique features that need to be learned to be a successful surf fisherman, which let’s face it, is not the most efficient method of fishing. Boatless, standing on the beach with mostly sand and occasionally rocks and manmade structure trying to find some targeted species.
Shortly after I moved to the Old North State, I did the “walking” thing from Bogue Inlet to Beaufort Inlet mapping out the nearly endless beach strand and sketching what I saw, mostly at low tide to help find my target fish.
One key feature that dominates North Carolina beaches is the outer bar, the sand bar that on Bogue Banks and elsewhere runs nearly the full length of the island. As I was getting my surf temperature from Bogue Pier on Feb. 16 (it was 54 degrees), I noticed the current status of that iconic outer bar was centered between the fifth and sixth shelters, quite a distance out from its usual position inside 100 yards from the beach. Forces beyond our control move the outer bar in and out and create fishable substructure that are more likely to hold fish than open stretches of beach. Most of the fishing we do is between the outer bar and the beach and in “fishy” structures likely to “hold” fish.
So, what are some of the fishy structures you should identify and fish with greater success? The main structure is a so-called break in the outer bar. You can identify the bar by the white-water waves breaking over the shallower sand on the bar. If you see a persistent area of NO white water as you scan the bar, that is the break in the bar. Great for fishing but treacherous for swimmers since this creates deadly rip currents. The break causes a river of water scouring out the sand, creating currents, deeper water and stronger waves crashing onto the beach, stirring up crabs and sand fleas and disorienting small fish. Perfect for predators and panfish bottom feeders alike.
Let’s take it one step further, by creating two nearby breaks in the bar creating two holes of deeper water and stronger currents connected by the nearshore slough with a lateral beach current connecting the holes depending on the wind and local beach current. In both these cases, fish the hole and edges where the sand drops into the deeper water.
A couple years ago, a year when the fall trout bite in the surf was off the charts, there was a perfect dead-end slough. There was the outer bar just east of Oceanana Pier running toward Fort Macon and Beaufort Inlet, which dead-ended into a bar coming off the beach connecting to the outer bar…a dead end. Trout coming down the beach either from the north or out of Beaufort Inlet taking a right turn along Bogue Banks were stopped dead in their tracks, making a trout fish pond. Not only were surf fishermen taking advantage of the pond of trout while fishing artificials and live shrimp on corks, but boaters were casting over the bar into the dead-ended slough catching limits of trout as well.
These are just some of the possible fishy structures that I’ve documented and look for the catch the big ones. For my ancient sketches of these and other fishy structures, check out: https://www.ncoif.com/surf-structure-sketches/, so you can put a visual to my structure verbiage.
As far as current fishing, I’m not going to try and make up fake news on who’s catching and who’s not.
This week was a disaster, days of 38 or 39 degrees and rain and north winds challenging most of us, even some of the hardiest of anglers. Getting reliable info under these conditions is almost impossible.
Of course, we are in the shad season, but that’s taken a serious hit as well. Rivers and creeks of eastern North Carolina all the way to Raleigh are flooded, muddy, with strong currents, while many of the boat ramps and bank access points are seriously flooded and will take at least days and maybe weeks to resolve. This includes the Roanoke River up at Weldon as well, where the water is at least 10 feet above normal.
It looks like the next few days, we will have temperatures in the 60s and a minimal amount of rain, so maybe there is a light at the end of the soggy tunnel. So far this month, I have measured 7.75 inches of rain in my NOAA rain gauge. Can you believe it? I didn’t fish at all last week. How bad is that?!
FYI: it looks like the beach nourishment Phase III is getting under way. Pipes are on the beach and boats are ready to get and pump sand (http://www.carteretcountync.gov/301/Beach-News).
As part of the ongoing Emerald Isle beach re-nourishment project, the Point Ramp needed to remain closed Tuesday. It is scheduled to reopen today at 5 a.m. Beach driving permit holders may still access the beach using the Black Skimmer or Dogleg ramps. For any questions, please contact the Emerald Isle Police Department at 252-354-2021.
Also, How about the new improved beach parking fees in Emerald Isle?
The new parking fees will be operated by NC Parking Inc. Paid parking goes into effect April 1 and will conclude Sept. 30. Collections will be seven days per week during this period. There will be a sliding scale of fees, and Emerald Isle taxpayers are eligible to receive two annual free parking permits for the Eastern and Western Ocean Regional Access locations.
For specific rationale and details check out: https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/Data/Sites/1/media/beach-parking-101.pdf.
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.