Fishing Equipment Maintenance.

Fishing equipment maintenance is one project that should not be ignored. As we get close to the start of the spring fishing season, now is the time to complete those unfinished jobs. If you let things go until now from the previous season, the job may take a little more effort but needs to be done to ensure a trouble free season kick off..

First, a complete evaluation should be done on the rod and reels. If there is any major damage, cracks or corrosion on either the rod or reel, it might be better to replace them now.

Disassembling the reel from the rod will permit a thorough examination and allow for cleaning. Check the butt, reel seat, guides and tip. If everything checks out, move on the reel.

The reel should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled. Replace any damaged or worn parts. The drag washer should also be checked. And if found warned, either order a new one from the manufacturer or have a tackle shop replace it for you.

Many types of lures and hard bait hooks may not survive more than a year so close focus on these items is imperative. Rusty rings, tangled lines or damaged components can result in potential loss of the catch. Sometimes it’s cheaper to replace the entire lure unless it’s your ‘go-to” catching machine. Then it’s an easy decision to just replace the hooks and rings.

Tackle boxes and bags habitually get cluttered over the season with many of those “I must have those” gadgets or maybe the “favor of the month” lure.

Your best option is empty the bag, sort through what’s salvageable and toss the rest.

Sinkers, loose terminal tackle, swivels, extra leader materials should be placed in separate containers for easy access next season.  Pliers, scissors, line cutters, fish grabbers should be cleaned or at least organized in its proper place. Remove all batteries on any electronic gear such as bait bubblers, night lights and bug zappers.

Knives should be cleaned, sharpened, oiled and placed in a sheaths for protection.

Large items such as coolers, cast nets, pier carts, cutting boards, rod holders and other large pieces need a good flushing, wiped off and stored properly.

Finally, all metal surfaces should be coated with a rods, reels or other gear with an anti-corrosion protectant.

Remember, the off season is the best time to find and replace worn or defective gear or equipment. And the new season is just around the corner.

Because most anglers have their own special fishing collections, I am sure we missed something but that’s what the offseason is for. Finding those issues before they cost you that trophy species next year.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Do You Track It

It seems every year we find ourselves looking for that competitive edge to help us catch more fish. Well, the best way to increase your catch rate is to know your prey and then track your steps.

There is an old saying, “that history repeats itself”.  And this scenario occurs on a regular basis in nature and in angling.

A possible explanation is that fish like other wildlife are creatures of habit. And in nature, this habit doesn’t just happen by chance. It is dialed in to each species DNA for survival.

If fish can be so predictable, then why don’t anglers catch fish on a regular basis? Why do they spend hours on the surf, pier or bridge being skunked? Or occasionally hooking up but for no other reason than luck.

To help improve our catch rate, let’s look at our target. The fish are not in a particular location by accident. They have found a place with a comfortable environment, good food source and protection from predators.

But it is much more than that. So many additional conditions come into play to hold a fish in a specific location or entice another fish to relocate there when one is removed or leaves on its own. Several reasons the location holds fish could be the water temperatures, water movement, moon phases, time of day. And probably one of the more reliable and mostly overlooked is the barometer readings.

To be successful, the angler must be able to predict when and why a species of fish is there and what motivates them to feed. And the best way to gain that edge is to document each trip. And that’s where an anglers log comes into play.

An anglers log can be a small spiral notebook or an elaborate spreadsheet with graphs and charts or anything in between. Either way, this log and the entries will help the angler predict when, why and how to target fish on their next trip. Over time these logs create a pattern and begin to paint a picture showing you the precise information you need to be successful.

So the best way to increase your catching success is to create a log to track your catches and develop trends for the angler to use on future outings.

And now during this “preparation season” is the best time to set up your new system.

The Walkingangler has created a comprehensive “Anglers Log” that we use on every trip whether we catch something or not.

If you are interested in receiving a copy, you can email at captaintonyobx@gmail.com and I will email you a copy.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony


Bluefish Rule Changes

On 28January 2020, the North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) announced a modification that establishes new creel and bag limits for the Recreational Bluefish Fishery effective February 1, 2020 at 12:01 A.M. in all coastal fishing waters.

This new rule states:

Recreational anglers that are NOT fishing on a For-Hire vessel may possess up to three (3) bluefish per day per angler. This rule will apply to all anglers fishing from the shore-based areas and from all private vessels. No minimum size limit is indicated.

Recreational anglers that are fishing on a For-Hire vessel may possess up to five (5) bluefish per day per angler as long as the vessel carries the proper documentation. No minimum size limit is indicated.

For clarification purposes, the rule defines a “For-Hire vessel” shall be licensed in one of two ways:

1) Operator must possess a “For-Hire Blanket Coastal Recreational Fishing License” (CRFL) for the vessel which will cover all anglers or;

2) Operator must possess a “For-Hire Fishing Permit for the fishing vessel issued by the Division of Marine Fisheries.

As in all recreational fishing, please only harvest what the angler can use and release the ones you can’t use.

For more information on this rule and other rules, contact:  the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557, phone 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632 for more information or visit the division website at  www.ncmarinefisheries.net.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Destination Fishing

Many anglers seek warm weather angling destinations when they find themselves struggling to find fish during these colder seasons. And fishing the Florida Keys maybe the answer to that interruption for many of these anglers. That hundred mile string of islands has always been a huge draw because of the mild winter climates and abundance of species.

Regardless whether its structure, shallow water, or reef fishing, the experiences in the Florida Keys is one for the memory books. Structure fishing has become very popular in the keys even for the typical novice angler. And with over forty two bridges and well over hundred miles of shorelines, there is no shortage of places for either the casual or passionate angler to try their luck or secure an enough for a meal.

The standard skill sets used elsewhere for successful fishing should continue to apply here regardless of type of fishing. These will always include: know when to fish, where to fish, how to fish, what to use, how fish respond under certain conditions. But the most important and an angler’s best friend is know the tides and structure.

Gear and equipment are also crucial to a successful outing. Most local “keys” species are toothy and are considered predator. Any gear weakness will be exposed. Use only the top of the line gear – this is not the place for the angler to skimp.

Fishing a Florida Keys bridge is a unique experience. Conditions can change frequently under these structures. It can take weeks or even months to master these channels and the water flows. Trial and error, exchanging ideas with other anglers on the bridges and tackle shops, and even sacrificing a few rigs jig just to locate a couple of bottom snags is worth the cost most anglers pay for this indoctrination.

But many times, it’s that five pound sheepshead or mangrove snapper or even that dancing tarpon that make spending the afternoon experimenting and learning all worthwhile.

Look in future entries on various gear and equipment techniques that have made my many bridge fishing trips successful.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Closed for the Season

Outer Banks Fishing Piers have closed for the season. Or at least for most of them.

Fishing on an Outer Banks pier over the past eight months has provided much excitement, a learning experience for many and in some cases recorded some trophy catches.  

Although, it’s been a great year, the weather hasn’t always been kind to our fishery. Occasional storms and hurricanes chased many anglers off the surf and piers. But on the same note, these fronts always relented quickly only to an improved catch days later.

The Thanksgiving weekend signals the un-official closure of some of my favorite places to fish.

But all is not lost though with two local piers, Avalon and Jennette’s, as well many soundside piers, bridges and docks will remain open throughout the entire winter season.

The remaining piers, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Outer Banks, Rodanthe, and Avon all closed just after the thanksgiving weekend. There may be staff in the tackle shops but access has stopped.

All is not lost, the Outer Banks surf should hold fish throughout the entire winter. Special gear will be needed but those dedicated enough to brave the elements can be rewarded.

The best bet for our winter anglers is to head south on the Hatteras or Ocracoke island beaches. There they will find slightly warmer water temperatures and fish should be around most of the winter season.

So if the sight of bright sunshine, sounds of crashing waves, and a brisk cool breeze against your face doesn’t chase you away, there are miles of surf to fish on or a railing on a pier waiting for you to hoist a fish over.

As we charge into the off seasons, there is much to do and learn for the coming season. 

Stay tuned!!

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

A Call for Help

October is the peak fishing month on Ocracoke Island. Jumping mullets move along the inlets and beach, providing a great source of bait for game fish such as drum and bluefish. Water temperatures start to cool down toward the end of the month, bringing larger bluefish and citation (over 40 inches) red drum to the surf.

But this year was different. On September 6, 2019, Hurricane Dorian approached the small island of Ocracoke of North Carolina flooding the entire island with over seven feet of water and devastating winds. The flooding destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure. And what the water didn’t do, the wind finished it. But most of all it affected the people. Their spirit is broken as well as their lives. But they are a determined to not let the storm defeat them.

Businesses on Ocracoke Island depend on their summer visitors to live but they need the fall visitor to survive. This year after the Hurricane Dorian, they and the rest of the island are suffering.

But we can help. You can help.

Alan and Melissa at Tradewinds could really use your help now. Have you ever wanted an official T-shirt, sweatshirt or even a hat from Tradewinds Tackle? Well now you can get one delivered right to your door and help them. Now you can order one from e-bay.

To place an order for any of their merchandise, use the link below.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/264496952701

Ocracoke Island Slogan, ““A Short Ferry Ride Away But A World Apart” by Alan Sutton

Friends helping friends – let’s all pitch in and do what we can to help.

Tightlines – Until Next Time – Capt. Tony

Striped Bass Fishery 2019

Today the North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) announced the opening of the Striped Bass Recreational Season effective October 1, 2019 at 12:01 A.M. in the Albemarle Sound Management Area.

Striped bass maybe caught by hook and line or recreational commercial gear for recreational purposes all seven (7) days per week.

These fish must be at least 18 total inches and each angler may keep no more than two (2) fish in any one day.

The season is scheduled to close at 1159 P.M. on, Thursday, April 30, 2020 unless closed by the NCDMF proclamation.

Additionally, the Atlantic Ocean Striped Bass fishery remains open to all anglers at one (1) fish per day at a minimum of twenty-eight (28) inches. For more information on the ocean fishery, please check with your local tackle shop.

It’s been a long time since we had a good striped bass fishery. Only take what you can use. All others should be safely returned to the water.

And only you and I can preserve this important Outer Banks fishery.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony