Looking Back – Tournament Time

It’s twenty-nine years later and the excitement is still present in the Pirates Cove Billfish Tournaments. Will there be another fantastic finish? Well, in 1990 there was. Here is my take on that exciting day 29 years ago.

Fishing tournaments can be very unpredictable. The winners can be determined by either the last fish caught or maybe a last minute weigh-in finish. In the case of the 1990 Pirate Cove Billfish tournament, the winning boat was going to end up with both.

It was a warm day for the 7th Annual Pirate Cove Billfish tournament in August 1990. The previous six tournaments were exciting events but for some reason this one just felt a little different.

My love for fishing and boating brought me to North Carolina as a visitor at a young age and ultimately a resident. Those early years, our family would walk the docks at the various fishing centers to admire the boats and the catch of the day. And attending the annual tournaments were always a highlight of our summer trips.

The first three days of the 1990 tournament appeared like any normal competitive event. Boats crews were boasting and bragging about their catches and admiring each other’s flags. The crowds seemed to grow larger each day with the increased catches and excitement of crowning the winning boat.

On the fourth day of the tournament, we arrived early afternoon at the marina. Unlike the other previous afternoons, the marina docks appeared to be even more crowded than before. Most of the boats had already recorded their scores. And people milling around waiting to see the winning boat and crew.

Minutes before the tournament ended and lines out of the water, a rumor began to spread that a tournament boat had just hooked up with a possible record blue marlin and they were still fighting it. And then several minutes later the rumor was confirmed that in fact the Sea Toy was fighting what may not only be the winning fish but could be a tournament record.

The next report, almost thirty minutes later, indicated that the fish had been landed and the Sea Toy was headed in. With less than two and a half hours until the weigh-in closes, Sea Toy had no time to waste. It would be full throttle and the engines wide open from the Gulf Stream through the inlet and up the sound into the narrow channel leading to the Pirates Cove marina.

Could they deliver this fish on time? Would the boat hold up with this beating? Time and equipment were now becoming a major factor.

On the docks, excitement continued to build at the thought of this record finish. But also you could feel this strange awe overcoming everyone. The thought of being a part of this tournament with a trophy marlin and a last minute finish was just fascinating.

It was still early and the thought of this full size charter boat steaming full throttle into the narrow Pirate Cove creek to the hoist and scale with hundreds of spectators standing within feet of the water was not a concern – no not YET.

Time was running out when the Sea Toy radioed in that they crossed the bar and passed Oregon Inlet. They were now heading full throttle into the shallow waters of the Roanoke Sound and a marina full of expensive yachts and hundreds of spectators. Sea Toy called ahead and asked that all yachts be double tied and all spectators are aware of the huge bow wave from the approach to his berth.

As the huge vessel made the left turn into the creek, the huge hull seemed to be completely out of the water. The double secured yachts seemed to disappear behind the wall of water. Spectators were amazed at the sight – even ignoring twelve inches of water pouring over the docks and covering their feet.

The Sea Toy sped toward the head of the creek and with one quick turn she was backed into the slip. Within seconds, the mate grabbed the hoist line, fastened it to the tail and hoisted the 654 pound Blue Marlin to first place finish!! And a mere 60 seconds to spare!!

It’s been twenty five years since I witnessed this amazing event. And I still get a chill just thinking how special this event was for me. Remember tournaments are unpredictable – just because you don’t fish it does not mean you can’t enjoy to fun.

The next 32nd Annual Billfish Tournament is being held on August 11-14, 2015 at the Pirates Cove Marina in Manteo, NC.

Will you be there to witness history?

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fishing the Wash. Baum Bridge

There are many places to fish on the Outer Banks but none better than the pier under the Washington Baum Bridge. This dock is a favorite for both locals and visitors. Most days throughout the summer and fall, you will find scores of anglers lining the railings.

The pier is located on U.S. Hwy 64 just under the western end of the bridge. The pier along with one of the finest small boat ramps can be easily accessed at the light past the western end of the bridge and just across from the entrance of the Pirates Cove Marina.

Anglers use the side road that parallels with the highway to access the area and then follow this road toward the ramp. The pier is located on the left. In addition to the easy access, there are more than 50 parking spots, toilet facilities and sloped ramp that help those with limited mobility to access the pier.

The pier is several hundred feet long with plenty of benches and the best “fish railings”. The entire area is family friendly and a great place to spend the day either catching dinner or just enjoying the outdoors.

Fishing is very good here with many species seeking safety under and around the pilings. Anglers frequently catch croakers, spot, and black drum and keeper flounder, speckled trout, and occasional puppy drum. It is not unusual to catch under-slot stripers all year but the best catches of keeper Stripe Bass are in the cooler fall months.

Anglers will typically use light tackle 6-7 foot rods with either two hook bottom rigs or a Carolina rig with cut bait, blood worms, fresh shrimp or Fish Bites. Don’t oversize your hooks especially in summer. Squid is an effective bait for flounder but it also seems to attract crabs.

There is a deep slough just north of the pier that holds plenty of fish. But only a strong cast can reach those holes. It’s best to focus under the pier and just a dozen yards out.

You should avoid the south side unless you are fishing the water surface. During the bridge construction much of the rubble and left over debris was stacked on that side. So unless using a popping cork or jigging, it’s smart to stay on the north side.

Another favorite fishing spot is at the eastern most end. Anglers who cast toward the huge bridge bumpers can catch larger species that travel along the faster currents.

Overall this pier has been a favorite spot to fish for both novice and seasoned anglers for years. It’s the go-to-place when anglers need a change of pace or to get away from the hot summer sun.

Fishing licenses are required to fish on this pier so check with your tackle shop before you go. Also, follow the bag and creel limits. Only harvest what you can use.

So if you are looking for a place to spend the day, discover this pier for your next outing. You won’t be disappointed.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Surf Fishing is Fun

Summer is here and what better way to enjoy the Outer Banks by trying surf fishing.

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

Organize Your Bags

Tackle bags can sometimes be compared with our backyard sheds. We buy a great tool, maybe use it once or twice, and then need a place to store it before the next use. And that next use may not be anytime soon.  So we place it in the shed and then the next thing we know, the shed is full and when we need that tool, you can’t find it.

Well, our tackle bags are a lot like those backyard sheds. We need a place to store our go-to items along with that special gear we purchased with the hope that it would work. And like storing dozens of tools in the shed, the fishing gear somehow gets shoved in our tackle bags and frequently gets lost or damaged.

Not only can gear get damaged but the angler can get injured reaching into their bag for something only to get stuck by a hook or bait knife.

Organization of fishing tackle and gear is imperative. Most anglers use plastic trays or zip lock bags to store items in their bag. Hooks, sinkers, floats and other items should be kept in their original containers if possible. Bags and boxes have many compartments which can be used for frequently use tools, extra line, scents.

So when the fish are biting or the blitz is on is no time to begin digging into you gear box or bag to retrieve something. It’s best to put things in their place where you can access them quickly before the big rush occurs.

Remember, your target species won’t wait around for you to rig up the right gear and catch them.  You must be ready at any moment.

“Because most times you only have a moment to make that cast”.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fishing Gear Maintenance

Maintaining your fishing gear on a regular basis ensures that it will be ready to fish when you are. Salt water and corrosion are the biggest enemies and without proper care will result in a shorter life span. So it’s important to take the time to do regular maintenance on all your fishing gear.

An annual checkup of your gear is time well spent. During this check, all parts of your fishing gear and equipment should be cleaned thoroughly, inspected and any defective or worn items replaced.

Most rods and reels are built strong but if one or more components are neglected or damaged, your catch can be compromised and possibly lost. We are already aware that these units should have off season maintenance but what about the other equipment and assorted gear?

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 of replace the entire lure unless it’s your ‘go-to” catching machine. Then it’s easy to replace the hooks and rings.

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

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

Sinkers, lose 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 a worn or defective gear or equipment.

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

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

NCDMF Needs Your Help

Release: Immediate

Contact: Patricia Smith

Date: Dec. 21, 2018

Phone: 252-726-7021

North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries ask public to report cold stunned trout.

 

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries wants to remind the public to report any cold stunned spotted seatrout they may see in North Carolina coastal waters.

During the winter, spotted seatrout move to deeper, warmer waters in coastal waters and the ocean. Cold stun events occur when there is a sudden drop in water temperature or during prolonged periods of cold weather, making fish so sluggish that humans can harvest them with their hands.

Many fish that are stunned die from the cold or fall prey to birds and other predators. Studies suggest that cold stun events can have a significant impact on spotted seatrout populations.

No cold stun events have been reported so far this winter, but if there are concerning weather conditions in the upcoming weeks as previously described then a cold stun event could occur in coastal creeks and bays.

Anyone seeing a trout cold stun event should report it to the N.C. Marine Patrol at 800-682-2632 or to division spotted seatrout biologist Tracey Bauer at 252-808-8159 or Tracey.Bauer@ncdenr.gov

Under the N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan, if a significant cold stun event occurs, the Division of Marine Fisheries will close all spotted seatrout harvest until the summer.

A significant cold stun is determined by size and scope of the cold stun event and an evaluation of water temperatures in areas where cold stuns have been reported. Monitors that continuously log water temperature are deployed statewide in the coastal rivers and creeks prone to cold stuns.

Closing harvest allows fish that survive the cold stun event the chance to spawn in the spring before harvest re-opens. Peak spawning occurs in May.

Under N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission rules, the spotted seatrout season automatically closes in inland waters when it closes in adjacent coastal waters.

Click here to learn more about cold stun events and how they impact spotted seatrout fisheries management in North Carolina.

nr-102-2018 

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

Try Something New

Live bait always trumps fresh (dead) or artificial baits.  One technique that has been used frequently in other areas where fresh live bait is not available is the Hook, Line and Threader system.

The Hook, Line and Threader system is a technique where anglers actually use a live fish or a variety of crustacean species with a hook already embedded in them to catch fish.

This technique involves placing a hook into a live species body without harming it. And has been used by many anglers around the country with mixed success.

The system uses a stainless steel threader or needle, notched on one end,  inserted in the mouth of the live bait fish and pushed completely through the organ cavity and out through the anal opening. Then a leader, looped of one end and attached to either with a double or treble hook, is then connected to the notched end of the needle and is slowly and very carefully pulled back out of the mouth of the fish. In essence, using the organ cavity as a path from anal opening to the species mouth.

Once loop end of leader is through the fish’s mouth, it is attached it to the main line on the fishing rod.

The threaded bait could then be fished by free lining in the current or with a split shot weight allowing it to sink.

If done carefully, the placing of the looped leader and hook assembly does little to no harm to the fish. And most of the time, the fish or crustacean will survive in the water for quite a while.

The Hook, Line and Threader can be used on almost any species of bait fish and many different crustaceans. Insertion technique will vary so the angler should be creative.

Does it work in your region? That’s anybody’s guess. Could be one of many gadgets anglers purchase each year that hook more anglers then fish or could be that magic technique which can produce more action and results.

These devices are typically found in both brick and mortar stores and on the internet. Give it a try and let me know how you do. For more information go to: http://www.hooklineandthreader.com/

 

Until Next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony