The Daniels “Little” Bridge

Several weeks ago, I mentioned the various locations where an angler can catch fish by land. Today, I want to discuss one the favorite spots on the entire Outer Banks

The Melvin R. Daniels Bridge is one of the areas favorite places to fish on the Outer Banks. Better known as the “little bridge”, it was once one of the local’s best kept secret. But with its central location, easy access, amenities and abundance of action most of the year, this bridge is now known as one of the best places to catch fish.

The Daniels Bridge is located in the town of Nags Head on Rt. 64/264 Manteo Causeway just west of Whalebone Junction. The concrete structure has easily accessible to a guarded walkway on the south side of the bridge. A five foot concrete barrier on the south side provide protection from wind and traffic. The north side was closed last year due to pedestrian safety issue.

The parking lot on the west side of the bridge can accommodate dozens of vehicles.  And adjacent to the parking area, visitors will find a nice picnic area, covered pavilion and modern restroom facilities. There is also fish cleaning table and running water as an added convenience.

When fishing this bridge, most anglers will start on the west side and work their way along the entire walkway from west to east. Since the north side is closed, finding the main slough under the bridge is important. Tides flow quickly under the bridge so fishing close to the piles gives you the best chance for success.

Many species of fish can be found around this bridge. The key is watching the bait fish and other anglers. Try to mirror their actions. The sound bottom is mostly sandy with minimal structures outside the bridge footprint. Unless jigging, it is a safe bet to fish close in toward the bridge pilings. Fast moving current under this bridge is the angler’s best friend.

Most anglers use a light to medium fishing gear to either bottom fish or jig for roving schools speckled trout, puppy drum or stripers. The standard two hook bottom rig tipped with small #4 hooks with fresh shrimp or cut bait is best for bottom fishing. When jigging, anglers typically use small lead head jigs fitted with a swim bait or other artificial plastics.

The best advantage for anglers who fish on the bridge is they don’t need any special equipment. It is important to just keep it simple. A simple light rod and reel, a two bottom rig and some fresh bait should help to get the action started quickly.

Anglers who want to fish on the Daniel’s bridge need to purchase a saltwater fishing license and obtain a copy of the local fishing regulations can be obtained at a local tackle shop. It is also imperative that all anglers know the creel and bag limits for each species.

So for a great place for the beginning angler, kids of all ages, families or the experienced angler looking for that trophy fish, the Melvin R Daniels “Little Bridge” is the place to go.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Report Cold Stunned Trout

MOREHEAD CITY – Dec 21, 2020

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding the public to report any cold stunned spotted seatrout they may see in North Carolina coastal waters.

During the winter, spotted seatrout move to relatively shallow creeks and rivers, where they can be vulnerable to cold stun events. Cold stun events have the potential to occur when there is a sudden drop in temperature or during prolonged periods of cold weather, making fish so sluggish that they can be harvested by hand.

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 negative 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 described above then a cold stun event could occur in coastal rivers and creeks.

Spotted seatrout cold stun events can be reported at any time to the N.C. Marine Patrol at 1-800-682-2632 or during regular business hours to the division spotted seatrout biologist Tracey Bauer at 252-808-8159 or Tracey.Bauer@ncdenr.gov. If reporting a spotted seatrout cold stun event, please provide where (the specific location) and when (date and time) the cold stun was observed, along with your contact information.

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 within a management area until the following spring. A significant cold stun event within a management area is determined by 1) assessing the size and scope, and 2) evaluating water temperatures to determine if triggers of 5 C (41 F) at eight consecutive days and 3 C (37.4 F) during a consecutive 24-hour period are met.  Data loggers are deployed statewide to continuously measure water temperatures 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 reopens. Peak spotted seatrout spawning occurs from May to June.

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

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