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It’s hot! No more description is necessary to substantiate that claim. Walk outside and you’ll be soaked with sweat in a matter of minutes. As a fisherman, it’s nice to get off the mainland and onto the water, where the breezes help to soften the heat. The fish thus far haven’t seemed to mind the heat too much as they continue to bite.
This past week our charter boats did fairly well on king mackerel in the 55- to 65-foot depth range. Most of the kings were in the 10- to 12- pound range, and spots such as the 390/390, Shark Hole and 65-foot hole were producing. Consistent with August fishing in year’s past, good numbers of Spanish mackerel have moved offshore and are holding around structure in 50-65 feet of water.
There are still Spanish mackerel along the beach as well, but the ones you can catch a bit farther out will typically be a bit larger. The only problem is you have to look out for the barracuda. They love Spanish mackerel and won’t hesitate to leave you with nothing but a set of lips on your hook.
We are still seeing some sailfish in the 55- to 70-foot depth, as we catch them incidentally while king mackerel fishing, but we have not seen any dolphin as of later. Capt. Roger Gales slipped up and caught a cobia last Saturday, but we haven’t seen many of those lately either.
If history holds, we will likely see the majority of the king mackerel move offshore to the 80- to 100-foot depth range, where they can find cooler water and a more steady food supply, mostly snapper. Also, I have begun to see more grouper move into the 65- to 80-foot depth range, and this trend will continue through August and into the fall.
As the mackerel and many other offshore species may slow a bit during August, one fishery that comes to life is the nearshore wreck fishing. Flounder move out of the backwaters and onto the nearshore reefs as they seek to escape the increasing water temperatures.
Locations such as AR 460, Yaupon Reef off Southport and the Jim Caudle Reef off Little River are refuges for large numbers of flounder, as they prefer the structure these reefs offer. In addition to the flounder, large redfish from 10 to 25 pounds will also move onto these reefs.
Most fishermen will anchor over the structure and drop live mullet or menhaden to the bottom and work them vertically to catch the flounder and redfish. Meanwhile, don’t discount the possibility of a stray king mackerel or cobia, so it’s a good idea to have a live bait under a balloon out behind the boat as well.
August through mid-September is one of the tougher times to fish from our area. Traditional techniques and species can be elusive, but if you will adjust your game to the conditions and focus on different locations and sometimes different species, you can still catch all the fish you want.
BRANT McMULLAN is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at email@example.com.