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It is amazing how the weather can change so much, so fast. A strong cold front pushed through our area on Friday night and within hours temperatures dropped to the 60s and fall was here in full force. Since then, lows at night have fallen into the 40s, and as a result, water temperatures have dropped 3-5 degrees. As a result, the bite is on.
The kings showed up in fair numbers this weekend just in time for the annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament, one of the largest kingfish tournaments in the country, quite possibly the largest in the country. This tournament is a good barometer on where the kings are, as more than 300 fishing teams search the seas from all directions for the largest king worth $25,000 in prize money.
This weekend proved the kings are responding to the weather change, as there were decent numbers of kings caught along the beach from Cape Fear all the way to Myrtle Beach, S.C. It was not an all-out, epic bite like sometimes occurs during this event, but there were enough fish caught to sufficiently say there are kings on the beach and it is a viable fishery right now.
If you recall, the strong cold front passed through on Friday night. The U.S. Open was Friday and Saturday, so the first day was ahead of the front and the second day behind it. These are not good conditions, and my hunch is that by the time you read this report, the weather and fish will have settled and the bite should be on in full swing. The winner of the U.S. Open this year was James Joines of the Deep End. He and crew landed a 43-pound king around 2:30 p.m. Saturday while fishing near the Lockwood Folly sea buoy. Congratulations for the great catch and the honor that goes with a U.S. Open victory. The Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel Tournament out of Little River, S.C., is Oct. 7-8. This tournament is hosted by the Little River Fishing Club and has been a great event for festivities and fishing. The way the weather is laying out and the recent fish activity, I believe this could be one you don’t want to miss. For information, visit www.littleriverfishingclub.com.
In other fishing news, the gag grouper bite has continued to be good at 70-100 feet. However, the big problem with this range is the sharks. Atlantic sharpnose, aka dog sharks, are thick and it is hard to get bait past them and to the grouper. These sharks run in schools and they come and go, so don’t get too discouraged if you encounter them repeatedly. Continue moving and you will likely find a clear area with hungry grouper.
Also, the Gulf Stream trolling action for wahoo and blackfin tuna is about to get very good. This cold front will help to spark that fishery as well, as temperature edges will begin to form and concentrate fish.
I am excited about the coming weeks. Fall fishing is finally here, and I am ready to go.