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Fall kingfish bite begins at local beaches

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

When Mother Nature flipped the switch, she did not hold back. It has gone from summer to fall in a hurry, and I am not complaining.

The mullet have been running the beach and the menhaden schools are lined up along the beachfront from Ocean Isle Beach to the Cape Fear. All the pieces are in place for one of the best fall king mackerel bites we’ve seen in years.

And although it is still a bit early with water temperatures in the upper 70s, the drop in temperatures has spurred a few kings to the beach to accompany the already great Spanish mackerel fishing. Saturday was a great day to fish, as light north winds brought calm seas near shore and a great opportunity to do some early season beach king mackerel fishing.

Hundreds of boats piled into the Yaupon Reef area, where they encountered a good bite from oversize Spanish mackerel and bluefish in the 2- to 6-pound range. Many boats also picked up a king mackerel or two.

I, too, was not going to miss a chance at my first “beach” fishing day, and I was joined by Ocean Isle Fishing Center manager Anita Moore, her husband, Kevin, and their son, Levi, who is fresh back from his first round at U.S. Marines boot camp and was set return to Camp LeJeune on Sept 8. I thought it appropriate to give Levi a lasting memory, as he will undoubtedly need to have some happy thoughts to get him through some of the tribulations he’ll soon be encountering.

We cleared Shallotte inlet at 7:30 a.m. and caught a livewell full of fresh bait near Holden Beach pier. We then ran toward Yaupon reef, but I noticed the water getting “king green” around Lockwood’s Folly inlet. I made the call to forgo the crowds at Yaupon and give the area a try. Schools of menhaden were less than a mile away and the water looked right.

We slow-trolled a spread of live menhaden and bluefish, including one suspended beneath a fishing kite. The tide was set to start falling at 10 a.m., and near that time things started happening. We had a nice fish to boil on the kite bait, and soon after the long top line produced a 10-pound King.

Large Spanish mackerel began tailing our baits and we missed a few of them before another, much larger king boiled and greyhounded our kite bait, completely missing the entire bait.

We caught a 30-pound blacknose shark and missed a couple other large Spanish mackerel before another king showed up under the kite bait. This king was a nice fish and was very persistent, although his sights were definitely off. The fish made several attempts at the bait but would either miss or, on one occasion, completely bait from the water but miss eating it.

The king stayed persistent, and after a good 10 minutes of tailing and darting at the bait, it finally made the mistake and Levi was hooked up. He wound tight to the king and did an excellent job angling the estimated 20- pound king to boatside. We had kept the smaller king for dinner, so this fish was photographed and released to see another day.

We set up again and had another nice fish bite through the wire before we decided to call it a day. We were home before 1 p.m. For me, that is nearly a perfect day of fishing; low impact, good fishing and good company. That is what I love about fall fishing and look forward to even better fishing results over coming weeks.

The weather forecast is calling for cool temperatures and north winds all week, so look for the fishing to improve dramatically by next weekend. Good luck and good fishing.

BRANT McMULLAN is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at captbrant@oifishingcenter.com.