Last week, I talked about the Portuguese man-of-war since they have recently appeared, albeit uninvited, to our beaches in large numbers…ouch!
On the other hand, there are plenty of real jellyfish, class Scyphozoa, that are found in our waters. One common is the cannonball jellyfish, which has a thick muscular bell about the size and shape of half a grapefruit or larger to one foot in diameter. It has no tentacles but uses its eight arms that together serve as a tube-like mouth. They are not venomous, travel in large schools and are often cut up into chunks and used as bait for spadefish, which look like giant angel fish.
Did you know a collective noun for jellyfish is a smuck, a smuck of jellyfish!
Another common visitor is the moon jelly, which to me look like a pulsing Frisbee. These jellies are often pinkish in color with the four horseshoe-shaped structures toward the center of the critter, which are their gonads. They have short hair-like tentacles and are only mildly venomous, producing at most a temporary itchy rash.
One more venomous jellyfish that I was once introduced to while swimming in the Chesapeake Bay is the sea nettle and are often found in brackish waters. They are often 5 to 10 inches in diameter, have 40 tentacles and are pink with red stripes. And I can attest they can sting.
Another venomous jelly is the lion’s mane, which I never had the pleasure to interact with. They can grow upwards to 8 feet in diameter, although ones wider than 3 feet are rare. They are considered the world’s largest jellyfish and can yield a severe burning and blistering.
I have also seen box jellyfish here. They, as their name indicates, look like a clear rectangular box with tentacles. They are related to, but not the same, as the deadly ones found in Australia. I have seen them in the Coast Guard channel in Emerald Isle and from Bogue Inlet Pier on occasion.
Among other critters I have seen on the beach, one is the beautiful blue buttons. They are in the class Hydroza. Like the Portuguese man-of-war, they are small, only about an inch in diameter, but are a spectacular brilliant blue. And when I have seen them are occasions when dozens or hundreds have washed up onto the beach. They have short, stinging tentacles, but I didn’t notice a sting when I picked them up.
Other beach critters I have seen that you may want to look up are sea horses, an occasional octopus, small squid, the sea hare, which is basically a giant slug that can eject purple dye when threatened, and sea pork, a tunicate that looks like a pink Hostess Twinkie. There are lots of cool critters along the beach, so keep your eyes peeled to the sand as you walk the beach.
As for fishing, or catching, so much of it is weather dependent.
This spring, we have had the deluge of May, now followed by the deluge of June as a stalled cold front has taken residence along the North Carolina coast. The hopeful appearance of red drum along the Bogue Banks surf early in the month has been “dampened” by the deluge that is June, along with the accompanying chilly temperatures with daytime highs only in the 60s. This has also dropped our warming water temperatures by many degrees in both the sound and surf. Even the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tourney had a pretty bumpy week with no fish weighed in that made the 500-pound mark.
After a great start to the Spanish mackerel season, things have cooled down, and there are some bluefish, but where are they? Scattered is about all I can say.
There are flounder and big gray trout to be had on the nearshore artificial reefs. The hot bait is the Thingma Jig. It seems to catch just about everything.
There are a few king mackerel around, but on the local piers, none have been hooked and only a few weighed in from the Topsail Island piers. One friend looking for kings at the Hutton, was relegated to having fun with the amberjacks.
As I said, we had some encouraging catches of reds, but they have disappeared, however, the flounder bite is excellent along the beach, from the piers and inside locations. I released a 17-incher hooked on a Kastmaster between the raindrops over the weekend.
Inside fishing has slowed. There are still catches of reds and specks, but not in some of the usual locations like the Haystacks. There are catches even on topwater baits.
A couple of fish that are producing good numbers are black drum and sheepshead while working the bridges, port wall, jetties or oyster bars with limits of legal fish being reached. As expected, these two munchers and crunchers are often found together.
In the Neuse River, the striper bite is holding up very well. Soft plastics or topwater plugs are both good choices for bait.
For our fishing piers, Oceanana Pier reports muddy and slow fishing, but some slot reds, spadefish, sea mullet and Spanish are being landed.
Bogue Inlet Pier has had a nice mix of fish with sea mullet, croakers, spots, loads of small flounder, a couple of slot reds, some Spanish and blues, but no kings yet this season.
Seaview Pier reports blues, Spanish, sea mullet and speckled trout. A tarpon was released, but no kings.
Surf City Pier reports one king last week, spots, mullet, and of course, Spanish and blues.
Jolly Roger Pier reports rough surf. Blues and Spanish have been caught early and late, along with flounder, spots and mullet. A king mackerel was also weighed in.
Finally, there is a change in regulations for recreational shark fishing. Recreational anglers will be required to use circle hooks when fishing for sharks with natural bait in state waters beginning Monday.
The requirement pertains to all recreational fishing (including possession) using a hook and line with natural bait for any shark species, except spiny dogfish, regardless of the tackle and lure configuration.
The circle hooks must be non-offset and made of a non-stainless-steel material. Offset circle hooks and stainless-steel circle hooks are not allowed for shark fishing. So, add this to your like of new regs. There was also some discussion of barbless treble hooks in the future.
Check out the OBX Today article at https://www.obxtoday.com/top-stories/marine-fisheries-commission-moves-towards-requiring-circle-hooks-barbless-trebles-for-recreational-fishing/.
Be safe, stay dry and catch some fish.
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.