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The fishing has taken a dramatic turn for the better this past week.
As is typically the case, we fishermen wait and wait, and then finally something/someone throws the switch, and the fish are magically here.
The fact last week’s weather was stable and warm certainly didn’t hurt, and it offered fishermen a chance to get out and work on the fish.
Offshore in the Gulf Stream, the action is improving dramatically. The dolphin have migrated off our waters and are just now starting to get thick. Last weekend, all the boats fishing the edge of the 30-fathom break and offshore found dolphin ranging from 10-20-plus pounds as well as quite a few wahoo scattered in.
The Gulf Stream is beginning to push closer in now—affording us more access to these dolphin as well as tuna and billfish.
Also offshore, but closer into the 25- to 45-mile range in 80-120 feet of water, the king mackerel and bottom fishing were excellent. Grouper, snapper and large sea bass have been holding over ledges and rocks in this range. The king mackerel are on the move headed inshore just as quickly as their tails will carry them.
The water temperatures in the 80-plus-foot depth range are 70-plus degrees. However, as is typical, there is an area offshore from 5-25 miles that is the last to warm, and it is still holding in the mid- to upper-60s.
This area is where the king set up shop most of the summer and includes spots such as the Jungle, Shark hole and 390/390. I got a report the threadfin herring and cigar minnows were thick in these areas, so it won’t be long before the kings filter into these areas and put the feed bags on.
Closer to shore, a big development this past week was the arrival of the Spanish mackerel and king mackerel along the beaches. The Spanish were thick all along the beaches from the inlet mouths to 3 miles out.
The kings are feeding on bluefish, and Spanish are staying very tight to the beach where the water temperatures are 70-plus degrees.
This group of beach kings is from a south-to-north migration group that shows up every year. They are typically first caught off the piers, so area piers such as Ocean Crest and Cherry Grove are reporting double-digit catches of kings up to 33 pounds in the past week.
If you fish for these kings, don’t get caught into going too far offshore. These kings are tight to the beach and should be fished in no more than 30 feet of water. Bluefish would be the bait of choice.
Inshore, the trout fishing is turning red-hot as well.
Brandon Sauls won the trout division in Capt. Kyles Inshore Classic out of the Ocean Isle Fishing Center last weekend. The trout was a monster 8.3 pounds, nearly eclipsing the all-time trout record held by Kyle Hughes of 8.55 pounds.
Ronnie Spangler, of Lawndale, emerged as this year’s overall champion with a aggregate weight of 4.5 pounds (a 3.4-pound trout and a 1.1-pound flounder).
Ken Jacobs, of Laurinburg, won the flounder division with a 2.0-pounder.
The top junior angler prize was shared by Noah Quaintance and Alex Mercer with a 2.7-pound trout.
The top lady angler was Heather Quaintance, also with a 2.7-pound trout.
Overall, the fishing in all sectors has turned on.
Brant McMullan is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at email@example.com.