New Rules – Spot & Croaker

On 30March 2021, the North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) issued two new proclamations for the Spot and Croaker fishery. These new rules establish specific creel limits in the hook and line and the recreational fishery for both species.

These proclamations are effective, 12:01A.M., Thursday, 15April, 2021.

The first proclamation establishes the creel limit that makes it unlawful to possess more than fifty (50) spot per person per day by hook and line or for recreational purposes.

It also requires that all “Spot” caught over the daily limit shall be immediately returned to the water where taken, regardless of the condition of the fish.

And in addition, the rule states it is unlawful to possess aboard a vessel or while engaged in fishing to have this species without having a head or tail attached.

The second proclamation establishes the creel limit that makes it unlawful to possess more than fifty (50) “Croaker” per person per day by hook and line or recreational fishery.

It also requires that all “Croaker” caught over the daily limit shall be immediately returned to the water where taken, regardless of the condition of the fish.

And in addition, the rule states it is unlawful to possess aboard a vessel or while engaged in fishing to have this specie without having a head or tail attached.

The intent of these proclamations is to allow North Carolina comply with the requirements of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission/Sciaenid Management Board Addendums and amendments to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan.

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

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Who Does Structure

What does having structure have to do with being successful?  Plenty!!

An angler can significantly improve their catch rate if they are able to recognize the presence of structure and how to use it to their advantage. This knowledge along with several other scouting skill sets can give both the novice and experienced angler that competitive edge.

Structure can be defined as anything having an unusual characteristic found either horizontally under water or standing vertically in the water column. Many structures are created by nature or installed to either support another structure or another purpose. Regardless of the types of structures, they can also be found at various locations and water depths.  Either way, structure is beneficial for both anglers and many saltwater species

Vertical structure could be pilings, bulkheads, tree stumps, root systems or jetties that extend above the surface. Horizontal structures are submerged and may include depressions, holes, drop-offs, ledges, rocks, tree roots or sunken logs. The most common horizontal structure are small holes or depressions and the change where sand bottom meets a grass flat.

Structure provides safety and food source for many species. The fish’s ability to move around this formation provides their ability to avoid another predator. Also, many small bait fish and crustaceans remain close to structure adding to the larger species food source.

When fishing a vertical structure, the angler should focus on the leeward side. Fish typically remain in the calm leeward side waiting for a bait fish or other species pass by.  When fishing a horizontal structure such as a depression or grass flat, let your bait pass as close as possible, changing speeds and action of the retrieve.

When fishing structures, anglers should mimic the action of a bait fish or crustacean. They must provide a natural retrieve. Bait or lure presentation here is extremely important as not to spook or chase the fish out of that zone. The bait or lure should be retrieved slowly both in the current and static areas. Then repeated.

Proficient anglers have the ability to use various retrieval or twitching actions that cause the fish to either sense anger, fear or instill their interest to increase to attack.  But it is imperative that the action must be natural and lifelike.

Some structure is easily located but others are not.  Vertical structures are obvious – they stick out f the water. But horizontal must be discovered. One way to locate a bottom structures is to take either a bank sinker or a lead jig head with the hook removed attached to a break-away light test leader and cast out in various locations. Feel and resistance during the retrieve can reveal uneven bottoms and structure created components.

Ability to recognize and use structure is the easiest way for an anglers to improve their catch rate.

And although it’s an important part of finding fish, its only one tool in the angler’s catch box. The ability to recognize structure and use it to catch fish can be a game changer.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Hot Weather Fishing

Fishing in the summer months can be challenging. The air temperatures can easily reach well into the nineties with “feel like” air temps being well over a hundred. Combine these high temperatures with the occasional storms and increased humidity and you have conditions that can test even the most seasoned anglers.

But the summer season also brings in the most variety of marine species. So regardless of the conditions, many anglers will brave these high temperatures to test their luck on a local pier or the surf.

There are several choices anglers can make to stay healthy on the water and still enjoy fishing.

Sun glasses are mandatory. The reflection off the water can damage your eyes quickly.  Sun glasses should provide UV protection and block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Also, opt for wraparound sunglasses or close-fitting sunglasses with wide lenses that protect your eyes from every angle. There are many sun glasses to choose from but don’t skimp on these.

Next item is a hat. Use only a hat that covers both your face and neck. Baseball caps are common place on the water but they typically only provide partial protection. Be smart and get a good hat.

Also, many anglers are utilizing buffs and gloves. A buff is a lightweight tube fabric used to cover your neck, face and ears. Gloves can protect your hands from not only sun but sharp edges. Some gloves allow your fingers to be exposed for handling gear. Only use types that protects you from the sun’s harmful rays.

Many tackle and specialty shops sell a cooling towel. These towels are soaked in water and wrapped around your neck and head. They are definitely worth the price but remember these towels do not have a UV rating so extra precautions are needed when using these towels.

The final component is clothing. Wear long sleeves and long pants. I know, these can make you hotter but there are many styles that are “cool-infused”. If you get hot, roll your sleeves. Remember always look for UPF 40 and UV protection.

OK so you don’t care for long clothes or cover up, then use at least a 50 SPF or higher sun screen lotion. They even make a spray – so there is never an excuse. Apply liberally before you head out and every hour. Don’t worry, you will get plenty of sun through this protection.

Finally, stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages. Water or other sports drinks can help keep you cool. Alcohol can rob your system of valuable fluids. So save that for after you come out of the sun.

Remember smart anglers use some type of sun protection every time they are out fishing. Over exposure of the sun can ruin your day and your future.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Surf Fishing Basics

Summer is well under way and what better way to enjoy the Outer Banks by trying surf fishing. We have talked about this topic and since the weather is beautiful and the fish are biting what better way to enjoy your vacation.

Fishing on the surf is one of the most relaxing and least expensive activities you can do at the beach and it can be fun for the entire family. All you need is a simple saltwater rod, reel and several items to enjoy this hobby.

The first thing you want to do is research the regulations. Make sure you know the limits of any species you catch. Also, you may need a license to fish on our beaches. Licenses and rules can be obtained at any local tackle shop. Tackle shops are the new (and experienced) angler’s best friend.

Next is selecting the spot on the beach. I always check with other local anglers or tackle shops for this information. They can usually point you in the right direction. But basically, any spot on our beach will hold fish.

Like any sport, you will need specific gear. These items will include a good medium seven rod and reel set up, a bottom rig, package of hooks, several different size sinkers and bait. If you don’t have your own rod and reel set up, a complete package can be purchased any tackle supply shop.

The standard rod and reel from a tackle shop will already be rigged with line. You will attach the bottom rig to the line. You can either tie the rig directly to the line or tie a snap swivel to the line first and then hook the rig to this connector. A snap swivel allows for a quick change over if you need to replace the bottom rig.

Next you want to install the hooks. Number four or six size hooks work fine. I slide the loop end of the hook line over the bottom rig loop and slip the hook through the bottom rig loop. This creates a strong connection. A sinker is attached to the bottom of the rig. I carry different size sinkers and attach the lightest one that will allow me to hold the bottom.

Bait is the most important component. I use fresh shrimp or fish bites. Do not peel the shrimp; just place a small piece on each hook. Sometimes, I insert a small quarter inch piece of a fish bite over the hook after the shrimp. This keeps the shrimp on the hook and prevents smaller fish from stealing the bait before a larger fish eats it. Remember – the fresher the bait – the better the chance for success.

Most bottom fish can be found within fifteen feet of our shore line. So cast just over the waves. Let the bait sit on the bottom and wait for the bite. The bite feels like a tap tap tap. When you feel the bite, just raise your rod tip and reel in. If your line moves on the bottom, change to the next size up sinker.

It’s that simple.

So the next time you have a little free time and want to learn a new hobby – take up fishing on our coast. It’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors and our beautiful beaches.

One final tip – release all fish carefully that you are not going to keep the fish so it can be caught again

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony