Before I get to this week’s fishing news, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Greg “Rudi” Rudolph a great friend of our beaches and waterways.
Rudi has been our first, and so far, only shore protection manager here in Carteret County for nearly two decades. He is moving on from this position and thus was dutifully honored during a recent luncheon here in Emerald Isle for places known to him. During that time, he was integral with important beach nourishment projects, the relocation of Bogue Inlet and keeping our waterways navigable among his accomplishments and has left us with a plan to maintain such in the future.
The highlight of the luncheon was the presentation of the award, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award is for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.
Congrats, Rudi, and great success to whatever challenges you seek in the future, and please treat my contributed sand samples to your collection with kindness!
That being said, the last few weeks, we have been exploring fishing the vertical water column, topwater baits, the suspenders and the heavy metals. This week, we’ll finish off by going down the ladder and attacking the bottom rung of the water column where the bottom dwellers live and feed.
First are the lipped and sinking hard-plastic, stick baits. MirrOlure’s traditional 52M and TT baits and their newer fancier Series III versions of these baits, along with YoZuri’s Crystal Minnows, Rapala’s X-Rap and the classic, not just for freshwater, the saltwater Rat-L-Trap. There are many others. The lipless baits are cast, sink, while you twitch and retrieve baits with your twitching, providing the lifelike motion of an injured bait fish. Frequently, I get hits on the way down, so I always let the bait get to the bottom before I twitch and retrieve.
The lipped baits are pre-programed to do their thing, to imitate an edible bait fish, so mostly I just crank it at various speeds. As always, it is good to put your bait, lipped or not, through its paces. See how fast it sinks, see how it moves when you twitch it, or during a steady retrieve, crank it fast, crank it slowly and see if the bait vibrates or wobbles. Even many non-lipped baits vibrate at certain retrieve rates. So, know thy bait!
Finally, we have the real bottom dwellers, the lead-head jigs that are jigged and dragged along the bottom. These baits can be used as single lead-head, from 1/16 to 1 ounce, depending on conditions and water depth, tipped with a replaceable soft plastic or flavored bait like Berkley Gulp!. They can be made in tandem where two lead-heads are tied together with a dropper loop in between or as a tandem rig with lead-head and teaser fly. These also can be made with soft plastics that are pre-molded over a weighted hook. Some of my favorite pre-molded weighted soft plastic baits include Storm’s Swimming Mullet, Betts Halo Shad, and for shrimp imitations, some of the most popular include the new Vudu Shrimp, DOA Shrimp, Storm, and more recently, the Z-man stretchy soft plastics.
In the summer, I like to fish for summer flounder in the ocean surf, from any of the ocean fishing piers and from my kayak. My go-to artificial bait for flounder is the tandem rig with a soft plastic or Gulp! bait (swimming mullet, shad or shrimp) on one side and a teaser fly that is a mimic for the Atlantic silverside or bay anchovy, on the other side.
So, what are the “best” colors for any or all of these artificial baits? Just keep is simple. You want something light in color. White is a good start. You need something dark. Black is not a bad choice, and of course, chartreuse. If it ain’t chartreuse…you know how that goes! So, the next time you go fishing, have a vision of the vertical water column and work the ladder from top to bottom to find your target trophy.
The inside fishing for specks, and reds is holding up amazingly well.
The bite has, as often it does, now extended to the Radio Island and Cape Lookout Rock Jetties. Don’t forget when these jetties get populated with specks, other jetties, such as the small submerged one near the Fort Macon Coast Guard Station, the Fort Macon jetty itself and the Shackleford rock jetty also get populated. And don’t forget natural and live baits for sheepshead and black drum, which have had excellent years.
The surf and pier action is another story. On Wednesday a week ago, there was a nice speck blitz at Bogue Inlet Pier and the east surf too. So, I donned my waders and hit the chilling surf Thursday morning which turned rough, dirty, weedy, and most importantly, nary a spotted sea trout. Between the wind and surf, I couldn’t even effectively throw a MirrOlure and went to my Kastmaster with zero success. By the weekend, the trout returned to both Oceanana and Bogue Inlet piers with juvenile spike trout overwhelming keepers 20 to 1!
So, it looks like we are only getting limited pulses of specks in the surf so far this year and not a real sustained run. If this pattern continues, we can forget a real trout run in the surf this year. They will just pass by in short pulses. Maybe the coming cold front will help, but often when the spikes dominate, the trout surf season is toast. In the mix, there have also been a fair number of gray trout from the turning basin to the surf and piers and nearshore reefs.
There is other surf action to report, such as good catches of sea mullet. No one will say where, but probably Black Skimmer Road and maybe the Third Street access in Emerald Isle, at least somewhere east of the pier. There are also puffers in the mix and black drum with scattered slot reds.
Speaking of black drum, along with the recent trout blitz at Bogue Inlet Pier, Nui Vinson from Jacksonville landed a 7.7-pound black drum on a speck rig tipped with a tiny bit of shrimp. Nice catch, Nui!
For a surprise head turner, Capt. Lee Winkleman reported finding Atlantic bonito at AR 315 this past weekend. Wow! We get a nice, albeit usually short spring run, as they migrate north, but rarely see any on their way south. They seem to remain offshore as they move south for the winter. Yes, Capt. Lee knows his fish, they were not false albacore, and Capt. Lee also has the photos to prove it! Nice find Capt. Lee!
For the fishing piers, the puffers and fall sea mullet have arrived.
Oceanana Pier reports specks with lots of shorts, puffers in the day, sea mullet, croakers at night and baby blues.
Bogue Inlet Pier reports a great run of speckled trout and some grays Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 17, which disappeared by Thursday morning. Trout are being caught on GotChas, metals, grubs, plugs and bait…anything. There are also puffers, some sea mullet, flounder and blues.
Seaview Pier reports specks and lots of grays, mullet and puffers. They also released a tagged red drum and report slot reds and black drum.
Surf City Pier reports sea mullet at night, blues, scattered spots and specks.
Jolly Roger Pier reports mullet, pompano in the 2.5-pound range, spike specks and black drum with many shorts and a few slot fish.
For good offshore action, the fishing has been excellent out of Oregon Inlet with yellowfin tuna making a show and big kings too.
Close to home, the wahoo are around the Big Rock.
By the way, with the new pier open from the remnants of the Bonner Bridge, it might be time to give that a look-see (https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/bonner-bridge-pier.htm).
Finally, check out the recent vote concerning shrimping. N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries officials vote against shrimping proposal: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/nc-division-of-marine-fisheries-officials-vote-against-shrimping-proposal/ar-AAQSu6B?
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.