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

Can They See You

Most angler’s use the old game of hide and seek when fishing from a shore line or bridge. Most times without even recognizing that they are doing it.

Hide and seek is a popular kids game where they attempt to conceal themselves from being seen or heard. The goal of the game is to be the last player found.

Anglers frequently use the same skills of hide and seek. An angler who stands out on a bridge or shoreline with bright clothing, erratic movements or makes noise not natural to the area is sure to spook an already skittish target. So being stealth is the ticket for improved success.

Most targeted fish have tremendous eyesight and other senses that will warn them that danger is close. Anglers should keep this in mind when planning their next fishing trip, selecting a location or even what prey they plan to target.

Clothing is the first line of hide and seek. Wearing a contrasting shirt color against either a bright or cloudy day can warn the fish that some type of danger is present. So anglers should try to avoid standing out from the background.

A good rule is “If the sky is a bright blue, your shirt color should blue”. Similarly, if there is an overcast day, your shirt color should match as close to the background as possible. In this case, your clothing could be pale or light grey.

But what about partly sunny or clouds, colors should be neutral or natural. The best rule to follow is use only colors that are not bright or result in the angler to standing out.

Erratic angler movement can also influence a targeted prey to flee. When fishing on a bank or other structure, the angler’s movement is probably just as important as camouflage clothing. Trees or other vertical structures do not move erratically unless there is wind or significant weather condition.

Fish can sense the surrounding weather conditions including wave action, wind and other environmental influences, so they will know what is unnatural. Anglers should limit their movement to a minimum.

Unnatural sounds are also a component of stealth. Noise and unusual sounds that are not typically found in a specific location, such as loud voices, dropping gear, banging rods against railings or other such noises put up a warning. Unusual noise, banging of gear or even some levels of voices can be heard and possibly felt for some distance under the water.

Being stealth and using good camouflaging techniques will give you a significant advantage. Smart anglers consider these techniques as well as many others when trying to avoid being detected.

So next time you visit your neighborhood tackle shop, look a little closer in the camouflage section.

You might just find the color that can help improve your catches.

Until next time – Tightlines. Capt. Tony

Pier Fishing Basics

Fishing on one of the seven Outer Banks Piers is safe and enjoyable for the entire family. Most piers have ample parking, tackle supplies and food and beverage concessions. They will also rent you equipment and supply you with everything you need to fish.

There are four things I recommend you do after you arrive at the pier but before you start fishing. The four things are: “Homework”, “Observe”, “Ask” and “Try”.

“Homework” is researching the most recent fishing activity. Your findings will include, what has been caught recently and using what bait. Where is the best action? Do you have the proper gear and rigging? What are the tides and other weather conditions? There are many other considerations that both the pier staff and tackle shop professionals can help with.

“OBSERVE” is the next thing – once on the pier try to watch what other anglers are doing. Are they casting or just dropping the baits.  What type of equipment or gear are they using? What type rig or bait are they using and are they successful with that method. Spending several minutes can save much time and help avoiding that learning curve.

“ASK” is the next thing I do. Ask the other anglers what they are catching. What type of bait or rig works best? Your best bet for success is to copy what the others are doing.

“TRY” is the final step. Try out the information you received.  Work the pier is some type of order. I start on one side and typically close in. I work my way out to the deeper water. Each time I move, I watch the other anglers.  I follow the end of the pier. I then will either switch over the other side or just move close in and begin my journey from close in to the end of the pier.

Keys to success on the pier is moving around to find fish. If you don’t catch something right away or after a short period – Move. I will move many times both out and back and switching sides occasionally. 

There are many reasons you will not be successful on a fishing pier. But none is more damaging than using “DEAD BAIT”. What do I mean about using dead bait – its’ bait that is days old or allowed to sit in the sun and “cook”. Air dried and stale bait will turn off the fish quickly Keep your bait in the shade or better yet, in a cooler. Remember – Fresh bait has a natural scent and catches more fish.

When using fresh bait, always buy the best whether it’s shrimp, squid or blood worms.

Using the proper gear and equipment for the various seasons can mean the difference between success and failure. Medium to heavy gear in spring and fall and lighter gear in summer.

Sharp hooks and good rigging make for quick hook ups. A variety of sinkers will hold the bottom during different conditions.

Angler safety is also imperative. Dress for the conditions. Sun screen is needed year round. Bringing plenty of fluids and snacks make for an enjoyable day.

A cooler with plenty of ice will keep any fish you plan to harvest. Also, try to practice “CPR” – that is Catch, Photo and Release!!

So keep it simple and pier fishing will help create memories that last a lifetime.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Mid-Season Check

Semi-annual gear checks are always a great way to keep your equipment “catch ready”!

We are now half way through the fishing season. Our gear has probably taken a real beating from the sand, salt and of course catching. So now is a good time to examine the condition of our gear.

When doing a seasonal check, it’s smart to first check the rod and reels. Look at the rod first. Check the rod, guides, tip, reel seat and butt. Check for loose or worn guides, any cracks or corrosion. Replace any loose or defective items now.

Next, the rod needs a good cleaning. It’s best to use a mild detergent over the entire rod assembly. After cleaning, spray a good anti-corrosion coating or even standard furniture polish. Focus on the guides. Try to keep the anti-corrosion spray off the butt and handles. Use a dry non-abrasive cloth to wipe off any excess spray.

Next you need to check the reels. Wipe off any obvious dirt, sand or debris from the reel. Make sure the bail operation is smooth. Disassemble spool, spindle and handle from the body. Check the surface of each. Use small bulb air blower or a Q-tip with a little oil to wipe away any sand or corrosion.

Check the drag washer. As a general rule, the drag knob should always be loose during storage. Many anglers will tighten the drag knob to help secure the line and rigging on the fishing rod. This can cause the drag washer to compress and be damaged.

Once everything is clean, apply a little reel grease to the inside components. This keeps the gear lubricated and moisture and dirt out.

After inspecting the gears and all of the other components are clean, re-assemble everything the same way you took it apart. Make sure you install the washers and “O” rings. If you find either of these damaged, this is the time to replace them.

Once the reel is re-assembled, apply a good coat of reel oil. This will keep corrosion and dirt from sticking to the surfaces. Never leave wet oil on the surface. Just apply and wipe off. Make sure you get the oil into the smallest openings.

If you find any part of your gear that is defective or worn, this is the time to repair or replace. The fall fishing season can be typically more brutal on the gear with many larger fish moving into the surf zones.

Replacement parts are usually available from the manufacturers for the DIYer’s. Also the schematic documentation that came with the reel may assist with cleaning and parts replacements.

Confused about doing the gear and equipment maintenance yourself? Many tackle shops and reel repair companies have professional staffs to assist.

Periodic maintenance is cheap insurance. There should be no excuse for losing that trophy fish due to faulty gear or poor maintenance, It’s simple to do on our own or readily available by professionals in your region.

Good Luck and Great Fishing.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Is it time to fake it?

Artificial baits continue to revolutionize catching fish but none as innovative as Fish Bites. Fresh and live baits are still the best way to catch fish but anglers are finding many advantages of using this new synthetic bait either alone or in conjunction with other baits.

Fish Bites are a synthetic bait that uses a new technology to help the angler catch more fish.

The Fish Bite bait consists of a mesh “skelton” surrounded by a hardened but still flexible gel that has a flesh-like texture. It has been infused with a powerful flavor/scent technology that helps attract fish to the bait. Once in the water, the Fish Bite bait begins to slowly dissolve releasing this powerful scent that can drive most species to feed aggressively.

Fish Bites are found either pre-cut or in long strips. Pre-cut pieces work as packaged but some anglers will modify them to fit a particular application.

Fish Bites are manufactured in either standard or longer lasting. Each has their own purpose.

The standard type will disperse a powerful scent quickly once it comes in contact with water. The purpose of this type is to quickly put lots of scent in the water all at once.  This rapid release will attract fish in the surrounding area. Although extremely effective, the standard type dissolves quickly and needs to be replaced soon.

The second type is longer lasting. The longer lasting type also releases the scent in the water but at a slower pace. One advantage of the longer lasting is that it will hold on the hook longer.

Because fish bites contain such a powerful attractant, many anglers use them to dress other lures such as fresh bait or other artificial soft plastics. They will either attach a small piece or an entire strip to enhance the scent and action of their jig head or other lure.

Another advantage of using Fish Bites is that they come in convenient packages and doesn’t need refrigeration.

Fresh, natural and live baits are still the “go-to” baits for most anglers. They catch fish but if you are adventurous, the fish Bite artificial bait is a great addition to your arsenal.

Some anglers are reluctant to try something new but this is one bait that must be in their tackle bag.  So next time you question the price and benefit of fresh and natural baits, try Fish Bites. You won’t be disappointed.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fishing – Is It Better to Fish Early or Late

Historically, it has been the experience among anglers that it’s better to fish before breakfast or after dinner. Whether this preference is based on experience or theory, is anybody’s guess. But there are many reasons why anglers would prefer these times opposed to others.

It could be the cooler conditions or possibly the outdoor experience or it could be that the fish actually bite better during those times. Who knows, but there are several theories that could tell the story. So let’s explore several.

There is definitely a big difference between fishing dawn and dusk verses day time. Coolness verse the heat of the day. Sunrises and sunsets, various moon phases, cooler air and water temperatures along with the amount of light striking the water all can contribute to a change in feeding habits.

The sun has always had an effect on fishing. On bright days with the sun directly overhead seems to chase the fish deep in the water and slows their metabolism. On the other hand, low light and cloudy days seem to turn the bite on.

At dawn and dusk, the sun rays can be at a sharper angle to the water. This angle allows for lower light to penetrate the water and enhances the sight of various marine species. The lower light conditions can give feeding species an advantage finding food or the bait quickly because of their light sensitive eyes.

The moon phases can also affect the movement and height of the tides but more importantly this water movement can confuse many bait fish.  And this water movement can also bring in a change in more comfortable water temperatures.

Another theory is the amount of oxygen content in the water. Cooler water contains more oxygen then warmer water. So it’s natural that fish find comfort in these cooler conditions and tend to feed more.

At dusk, the air temperature will usually drop. The cooler air causes the water temperatures to also decrease slightly. This cooling trend creates a desirable environment for most species Small living organisms and bait fish are extremely active during these times and make for easy prey of the larger fish. So with more activity brings an increase in the possible success rate.

At dawn, the air temperatures begin to increase with the sun rise. The water temperatures will also increase. Even though it might be slight, the fish seem to sense this change and typically will begin to feed aggressively during this period being aware that their feeding cycle may end soon.  As the temperature continues to rise into the morning and dawn turns into day, this change causes the fish and their prey to slow down considerably and seek deeper cooler waters again.

Obviously, these are only couple of theories on why fish feed more aggressively during these times. There could many other conditions and reasons why fish are more active at dawn and dusk.  

Regardless of the reasons, anglers will continue to look forward to that “before breakfast and after dinner bite”.

So now the next question based on the facts, “will you try your luck at dusk or dawn too”?

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

The Pressure is On

The specific weather condition that anglers monitor before they go fishing can mean the difference between catching and just sightseeing. Most anglers will go fishing when they can. Other anglers are a little bit more studious and go when the conditions are right. And one of those conditions is barometric pressure reading.

Barometric pressure is the amount of force or weight that the atmosphere pushes down at any point on earth and its inhabitants. This pressure can be either steady, rising or falling according to the current weather conditions. And these three different readings can have a significant effect on fishing.

Anglers have used weather instruments including barometer readings for years. And those anglers have realized that you don’t have to be a scientist to understand how these readings affect wildlife including our saltwater species.

Each living species responds to many different weather conditions. But the change in barometric pressure can be felt in both humans and wildlife alike. And when there is a change, sometimes even slight everything responds including wildlife.

Weather systems are the main cause of barometric pressure changes. When the sun is shining with little wind, the barometer is steady. Falling pressure actually increases the pressure felt on the surface. And rising pressure will decrease this effect.

This rising and falling typically proceeds or follows a weather system. For example, an approaching front will cause the barometric pressure to decrease and once passed the system increases pressure as it does after a tropical storm. The closer the storm is to a particular area, the lower the pressure becomes. And vice versa.

And its effect on wildlife does not have to be significant – only a few degrees of measurement can make a world of difference.

So how does this condition effect fishing?

On steady calm or “bluebird” days, fishing is dependent on many natural instincts of a specific species. They act in a normal fashion. But with an approaching system or storm the pressure begins to fall and this pressure pushes on the fish’s organs, causing them to feel full and reducing their instinct to feed. Now once the front or system passes, the pressure rises and the “full feeling” effect diminishes, and the fish will begin to feed aggressively.

Many anglers who have followed barometric pressure change concept have been richly rewarded.

Looking for one more advantage, why not check the weather page before your next fishing trip.

It just might surprise you.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony