Spring Brings Change

Spring is bringing change to the Outer Banks. The official start of spring arrived a month ago but you would never know it by the air and water temperatures. Just this past week though, conditions began to improve on the northern beaches so everyone is ready for mild weather.

As word gets out that the warm temperatures are finally here and fish are biting, new and returning anglers will be flocking to the outer banks.

Returning anglers may find several changes that they need to be aware. Many areas received beach nourishment over the past year. So those familiar sloughs and holes may have moved. Also, several piers sustained damage due to the numerous winter storms and are boasting new and bright structures. The surf and piers are ready for anglers but keep in mind there still may be some unfinished projects. But nothing should affect throwing a line in the water.

The cold weather had a significant impact on one of our favorite’s species. The Speckled Sea Trout had a major stun event and we possibly lost a significant number of them.  North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) placed a moratorium on catching them through mid June. The biologists feel that they can re-bound with a little help from the angling community.

Anglers will need a four-wheel drive permit to park and fish Currituck beaches. This is something new so anglers need to check with Currituck County before planning to fish at this beach. No major changes with the Cape Hatteras National Park. Permits are still required but additional accesses were created and access times adjusted. Anglers should check with the park service.

There will be some disruption on the Oregon Inlet bridge catwalk. Anglers should have access through the summer but parking will be limited so arrived early for the best spots. Also, keep in mind there are several the other local bridges should still offer great fishing. We will be discussing more about these bridges in the near future.

Most regulations on bag and creel limits have remained unchanged but occasionally there comes a need to modify a rule. All piers and tackle shops will have copies of the regulations. A good rule is to always keep a copy handy.

Also, NCDMF has created a pocket size guide titled “Coastal Recreational Angler’s Guide”. This guide is free and contains valuable information on local fishing techniques, species pictures, and much more. Each angler should keep a copy in their tackle bag.

Remember, weather is still unpredictable so if you plan to fish dress accordingly.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fishing Piers are Open

Fishing piers are finally beginning to see some action on the northern Outer Banks. The calendar says so but Mother Nature is pushing back. The occasional fronts have challenged even the heartiest angler. But conditions are changing quickly.

Starting from the north regions and heading south, here is our pier opening status:

Avalon Fishing Pier has been open all year. The pier hours each day are 0600 until 1000 pm daily

Nags Head Fishing Pier is still closed. The pier sustained damaged over the winter and repairs are progressing. They expect to open in several weeks. Stay tuned for updates.

Jennette’s Pier has been opened all year. Spring hours changed on 31 March to 0700 until 900 pm daily.

Outer Banks Fishing Pier opened on 29 March. They will be open from 0600 until dark or after according to mgmt.

Rodanthe Fishing Pier opened on 28 March. They will be open from 0600 until 900 pm daily.

Avon Fishing Pier is still closed. They too sustained damage over the winter due to the winter storms. Anticipated opening is not until mid-May. Stay tuned for updates.

Water temperatures along the northern beaches are still in the upper forties to lower fifties. It won’t be long before we begin to see those spring species in the surf and piers. For some immediate action, there are always a few skates and dogfish to tighten your lines.

The southern beaches water temperatures continue to hover around the upper fifties to lower sixties. Many of our perennial local species remained in the surf all season and are a favorite target of both fresh bait and artificial lures. Best time to go is now.

After a tough winter, the spring season is shaping up to pick up where our fall fishery left off last year Couldn’t come at better time for those house-bound anglers..

“Remember, last year’s defective gear can cause you to lose this year’s first fish.” Don’t Wait. Repair it Now!

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Investment in Time

Joining a fishing club can be the best way for a new angler to learn about a local fishery. Many regions have similar types of species in their waters but most times it comes down to the techniques, different methods and possibly the gear that separates them. But basically joining a club is about making friends and catching fish.

Typically, anglers will walk into a store, pick up a standard rod and reel set up, package of bait and hit the surf. There is a good chance they will catch something and possibly enough for a meal. But once they get past that stage or the initial phase, they may ask themselves, now what?

Well, that’s where a fishing club comes into play. A fishing club can take that new or even experienced angler to the next level. As with anything else, there are certain techniques that if utilized properly will make the activity more successful and even a lot of fun. And this works the same way with fishing.

The membership with a fishing club will give those anglers that competitive edge. And with the access to knowledgeable members and the support and camaraderie found there, the angler will find it to be a win-win proposition.

Membership is not just one sided affair. This commitment in a fishing club takes work. Each member is required to participate in a number of club activities.

There are monthly meetings, assorted duty assignments, picnics, awards dinners and of course tournaments. These all take volunteers to make it happen.  But the rewards are worth the effort.

Most fishing clubs meet monthly for approximately two hours. Typically, there several parts of each meeting: Club business, speaker, committee reports and open forum.

Fishing clubs are the best opportunity for an angler to expand their skill level. It can open many doors typically not usually available to the casual angler.

If you looking for something new and exciting, joining a local fishing club is time worth spent and is definitely worth your effort.

The Outer Banks Anglers Club is seeking new members. If you are looking for new friendships and a place learn new techniques, then check them out.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

A Keys Destination

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 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 longer 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 eighteen Spanish mackerel 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

Buy It Local

Have you noticed? It seems every day we find that we can buy more items on the internet. Cars, college degrees, and now even pizza. And even more surprising, I read the other day that even the big box stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club are being squeezed out by other online wholesalers. And the future is un-predicable for many more.

How about our fishing industry? Yup, there are now dozens of online tackle suppliers selling every type of tackle and gear on the market at discount prices. Even the very manufacturers have gotten in line with the parade. Seems everyone wants a piece of the angler’s dollar.

What most anglers are finding is that the online retailer’s prices are either equal or even cheaper than that of the local tackle shops plus as a bonus they receive free shipping.

So now what does a local tackle shop do in this killer market to survive?

It’s called provide customer service. It’s the same customer service they have been providing long before the online marketers started wowing the angler away for their business.

Local tackle shops employ many local professional anglers. And for good reason. These local anglers know the waters, fish and what is takes to catch them. What equipment and lure work best? Best times, tides and locations. This is stuff you can’t find on any web site. And the best part – all of this information is free to anyone who either walks in the door or calls.

Fresh bait and fresh fishing reports are the news of the day. Try finding these on the web sites.

Finally, we all know online suppliers can sell us the same tackle and gear that we buy from a local guys a lot cheaper but the online guys can’t supply us with the advice we need to go with it.

If we continue to buy on line at a discount and only go to the tackle shop for advice, the tackle shops will disappear.

Let’s support our local tackle shops every chance we get. They have a lot to offer, all you have to do is ask them.

But only you can make that choice.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Call them New Year Plans

The January cold is beginning to set in and most anglers are wishing for warm weather or at least a chance to cast a line. January is also a great time to make those plans for the New Year. In the past, we used to call them “resolutions”. But I like you, they lasted only a few weeks. Now, if we call them a “plan” there is a possibility that they may work most of the year.

First resolution should be to learn more. There are many seminars available for both the new and seasoned angler. If you can’t find one close to home, there is always one within a nice drive. Check the internet for these.  If all else fails, dozens of professional anglers post instructional how-to videos online on both their web pages and on the internet for free – no excuse for not learning something new.

Next, log it. I created a log in which I log each trip I take regardless if I catch something or not. I not only log the day, time and place but also document every weather condition, gear, technique, the environment in the area. I use every sense – I listen for particular sounds, look for something different, feel the wind or vibration or something effecting your gear or bait as it glides through the water. Do not discount your ability to recognize your surroundings. Want a copy, email me.

Organize your gear – there is no better time than the winter season to organize your gear. The tackle shops are loading up with new products from manufactures daily. Empty your bags and start over. Only carry what you need for the day. Replace old and rusty and corroded gear and equipment.

Take a kid fishing. Most seasoned anglers started somewhere. I started fishing with my dad when I was probably five. These days, we are losing young children to other interests other than outdoor activities. There is an old saying, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime,” I believe if we teach our kids to fish at a young age, they will develop that passion that will last a lifetime. Take that kid, he or she will thank you one day.

One Final Note – And I can’t stress this enough – we need to support our local tackle shops. The online suppliers can sell us the same tackle and gear that we buy from a local guys a lot cheaper but the online guys can’t supply us with the advice we need to go with it. If we continue to buy on line at a discount and only go to the tackle shop for advice, the tackle shops will disappear. Only you can make that choice.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Spotted Seatrout Cold Stun

PROCLAMATION RE: SPOTTED SEATROUT – COMMERCIAL AND RECREATIONAL FISHERY CLOSURE – COLD STUN EVENTS

This proclamation supersedes proclamations FF-18-2017 and FF-19-2017, dated May 5, 2017. It closes the commercial and recreational spotted seatrout fishery due to cold stun events, in accordance with the management strategy outlined in the N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan. The spotted seatrout fishery will open June 15, 2018 by proclamation.

Stephen W. Murphey, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective 3:00 P.M. Friday, January 5, 2018, the following will apply to spotted seatrout:

  1. HARVEST RESTRICTIONS

It is unlawful to possess, transport, buy, sell or offer for sale spotted seatrout taken from coastal and joint fishing waters of North Carolina except dealers will have until Friday, January 12, 2018 to dispose of unfrozen spotted seatrout in their possession taken prior to the closure.

  1. GENERAL INFORMATION
  2. This proclamation is issued under the authority of N.C.G. S. 113-170.4; 113-170.5; 113-182; 113-221.1; 143B-289.52 and N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rules 15A NCAC 03H .0103, 03M .0512 and 03M .0522.
  3. It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the Fisheries Director under his delegated authority pursuant to N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03H .0103.
  4. This action was taken to control fishing effort following a severe cold stun event under the approved management strategy in the N.C. Spotted Sea D. It is the intent of the Fisheries Director to open the spotted seatrout season for commercial and recreational fishing by proclamation on June 15, 2018 after surviving fish have had the opportunity to spawn.
  5. In accordance with N.C. General Statute 113-221.1(c) all persons who may be affected by proclamations issued by the Fisheries Director are under a duty to keep themselves informed of current proclamations.
  6. 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

http://www.ncmarinefisheries.net.

  1. This proclamation supersedes proclamations FF-18-2017 and FF-19-2017, dated May 5, 2017.

It closes the commercial and recreational spotted seatrout fishery due to cold stun events, in accordance with the management strategy outlined in the N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery

Management Plan. The spotted seatrout fishery will open June 15, 2018 by proclamation.

By: Stephen W. Murphey, Director

DIVISION OF MARINE FISHERIES trout Fishery Management Plan.

Capt. Tony

Make Some Time Now

When the cold temperatures first set in, most anglers will find themselves thinking its fishing or something else. But really what that means for them, is that once fishing is finished for “their” season, then they have to find something else to occupy themselves.

Well, for passionate anglers there are plenty of duties and chores to do way before they put their gear away for the next season.

The first chore is to remove all the old fishing line from each reel. We hear it all the time. They only caught small fish with that rod, or they only used this rod several times the entire year, or even better yet, this rod was the back up and it never left their truck or even garage. All good excuses but all the same results. Still, all lines were exposed to something whether usage, dirt, environment or other conditions. Any of which can and will affect performance.

In addition, most fishing line companies recommend replacing your line several times per year but at a minimum annually. The elements including salt, sun and impact or stress regardless how strong weakens your line. And at the price of new line verses failure, that compromise is not worth paying.

Next, inspect your rod. Look closely at you guides. If you treated your guides with a cleaner lubricant after each use throughout the year, they should be in good shape. But if you find corrosion or a defect, it needs to be addressed at this time.

While the line is off the reels, is a good time to check the condition of your reels. I usually partially dis-assemble the reels, clean all the parts, and lubricate all the moving parts.

If I find something that is binding or just doesn’t feel or sound right, I schedule an appointment with a local reel repair technician.

The worst time to find out that your gear is now up to the job is when reeling in your first fish of the season.

This is the first of many chores we will need to do before next fishing season. So there is no time like the present to start preparing for next year.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

End of our 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.

Usually 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, will remain open throughout the entire winter season.

The Avalon pier will be staffed daily from 0600 and will close sometime late afternoons. Their hours could change if conditions warrant so if you want to fish there, you should call ahead.

Jennette’s pier will remain open throughout the winter season with fixed hours. Their hours of operation will be 0900 – 1700 daily. Again, anglers should always call ahead to check conditions.

The remaining piers, Nags Head, Outer Banks, Rodanthe, and Avon closed around the thanksgiving weekend. There may be pier staff in the tackle shops but access has suspended until Spring.

All is not lost, the Outer Banks surf should still 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 might find slightly warmer water temperatures and several species of fish should still be around most of the winter season.

So if the warmth 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 one our open piers 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

Bridge Fishing in Fall

Fishing on a local outer banks bridge in the fall gives you that special feeling.

Speckled sea trout and puppy drum bites have been off the charts for the past several weeks. The cool crisp air and those intermittent colder breezes remind you that winter is just around the corner. But the urge to fish exceeds the need for comfort.

Throughout the season the catches seemed easy. The warm days allowed the angler to spend hours searching the various holes and points around the pilings for a catch. But now with the unpredictable winds, current and water temperatures, catching becomes a little more challenging.

When the experienced angler first arrives at their fishing spot, they will study the surroundings and conditions.

Some of the questions they will focus on are: what are the water conditions – moving, still, choppy; what is being caught and with what bait and lure; and is there any special going on such as bird activity or bait fish.

Although, all conditions should be observed, the most important focus should be on the water temperatures and movement.

This time of year, moving lures and baits seem to work well. Most fish species face into the current to feed so the lure must pass within noise range or eye sight. But it also must pass them by at a speed not to exceed their energy reserves.

Quarter to one eighth lead heads with or without a rattle is the preferred jig.

There are a variety of swim baits or curly tail plastic baits available and work great but glass minnows seem to be on the Captain’s short list and for me work best.

Colors do matter. Use dark colors in low light and light colors in bright light.

The retrieval must also be varied to allow time for the fish to see or hear the bait and attack it.

No fish swims in a straight line so neither should your bait. Erratic pauses and jerks might indicate a weak or injured prey.

When fishing on one of the outer banks bridges in fall, take everything in before committing to a certain bait. Watch, wait and act.

The experienced angler who uses all their senses during challenging times, will be more successful.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony