As with the rest of us, the U.S. Coast Guard has been in hibernation for nearly a year as far as function.
Also, as with the rest of us, they are slowly emerging back to the new normal, and there are some new issues that we should be made aware of.
Carl Rauschenberg of the CGAUX out of Swansboro (http://www.swansboroaux.com/) gave me an update on where the local flotilla stands.
In March 2020, the CGAUX suspended many of its programs, including boat inspections, boating safety classes and on-the-water patrols. As of January, boat inspection functions, including monthly free inspections on the third Saturday at the Emerald Isle Wildlife Ramp have been resumed, and other locations will be announced as well. They have also restarted the safe boating classes, including About Boating Safely, and the six-week Boating Skills & Seamanship class and Suddenly in Command. Check the website for information and sign up. It is expected that by May the usual on-the-water patrols will be resumed as well.
Rauschenberg also indicated the new focus on boats’ cutoff, aka kill switch, has now been codified, making it a penalty for non-compliance. Of course, most, that is nearly all boats, already have this as standard equipment and applies to boats less than 26 feet in length.
Rauschenberg also discussed a program I hadn’t heard of, the Sea Scouts which provides a link between the Boy Scouts and the CGAUX. This is a national program but now emerging here in coastal North Carolina. This is a program for boys and girls ages 14 (or 13 years of age and completed eighth grade) through 20 and can lead to becoming a member of the CGAUX. A Sea Scout who is at least 14 years old or a Sea Scout leader may also choose to become full members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary by following the normal application process. Sounds like a great program.
Finally, there is a renewed focus on charter boat safety practices, particularly a crackdown on non-licensed captains, lack of yearly licensure renewal and yearly required drug program testing.
As you have noticed, we have been on a temperature rollercoaster typical of a North Carolina spring.
This has also caused the rollercoastering of surf and sound water temperatures. Southerly breezes bump the surf temperatures into the 60s one day, followed by a cold front and northerly blows dropping them summarily back into the chilly 50s, so up and down we go. But the warm temperatures as erratic as they are have fired up the fishing.
As disappointing as the inside drum and trout action has been from the Neuse River to the White Oak River and in between, the trout and drum have been reinvigorated and are hungry, even as far as a noticeable topwater action.
Personally, I have had good success in the Bogue Sound creeks with trout up to 5 pounds and even a few redfish, while the black drum bite has held strong throughout the winter and into the spring. As you work to the New River, the trout bite just never quit, including slammin’ topwater action.
Nearshore has shown us that spring has sprung, the grass is rising and the blues, bonito and false albacore are showing up on time as far as the calendar goes. We already have been seeing a great sea mullet bite from Beaufort Inlet and the turning basin to the piers and surf where the “easter” you are, the bite is better. I also heard of good catches of sea mullet in the Indian Beach surf.
Atlantic bonito and false albacore, as is usual, the early reports are traditionally out around Diver’s Rock, and we expect this action should spread north and east along Bogue Banks. We’ve seen some excellent catches of bonito on small metals and flies just out of New River Inlet.
Along the Bogue Banks surf, I’ve already mentioned the sea mullet, but this past week, I’ve heard of small blues and rat (juvenile) reds in the Emerald Isle surf. It’s time for me to get back to the surf. I could use a few fresh blues for dinner.
So how about the ocean piers?
In general, still not many anglers angling, so not much is being caught, but in summary, there are sea mullet, best at night, a few puffers and rays with some blues showing, even a few Spanish at Oceanana Pier.
We don’t usually see Spanish until the first week of May with surf temperatures in the mid to upper 60s. So Oceanana Pier reports sea mullet and even a FEW Spanish and blues.
Bogue Inlet Pier is slow with not many fishermen due to the frenzied beach nourishment going on at the pier, but it reports a few mullet and puffers and a half-ounce spot weighed in. Being the first spot of the year is one way of getting your name on the fishing board of fame, fleeting as it might be! The dearth of spring puffers surprises me. It’s puffer time.
Seaview Pier reports mullet, while a few puffers and blues made a showing last week.
Surf City Pier reports sea mullet, “and that’s kinda it” said an employee.
Jolly Roger Pier reports sea mullet and a few scattered blues. Speaking of piers, up on the OBX Rodanthe Pier, after repairs, it has reopened for fishing.
Offshore anglers had a couple windy days, and it led to good catches of wahoo, yellow and blackfin tuna and even some king mackerel,
Bottom fishing continues to be good.
Now for a few notes: If you want an update to the Phase III beach nourishment, go to http://www.carteretcountync.gov/827/Florence-Renourishment-Project-2021.
Things are progressing very well, and the sand looks great.
Now for a frowning emoji, due to safety concerns, the Cape Lookout Lighthouse will be closed for two years for repairs. The pier is currently closed, but the keeper’s house will be open to the public, and the repairs are expected to start this fall.
Finally, on the side of fishing regulations, the Marine Fisheries Commission has amended its tarpon regulations, which now prohibits possession of tarpon and makes it illegal to gaff, spear or puncture tarpon by any method other than hook-and-line. Of course, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries citations were already given only for release of a tarpon of any size, this already eliminating the need to kill a tarpon to get your special citation award from the state suitable for framing.
These are special fish and should treated that way.
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.