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Fishing for shark, barracuda

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By Capt. Derek Treffinger 

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It has once again been another tough week for anglers in Brunswick County. Between the torrential rainstorms and gale force winds, it seems fishermen can’t catch a break. The storms that stalled across our coastline last week produced torrential rains, which dirtied our near shore waters. This shattered almost every angler’s hope to catch Spanish mackerel along the beach this week.

However, once one fishery becomes unavailable, fishermen search to find another. This week has produced some great shark and barracuda fishing for my near shore charters out of the Ocean Isle Fishing Center. We focused mainly on balloon fishing and kite fishing for the sharks. The barracudas were caught by trolling pinfish around our near shore reefs.

These two species of fish make a great first catch for any angler looking for a big tug on the line. Some believe that sharks are vicious predators determined to bite humans if they enter the water. However, after spending a great deal of time catching and handling these sharks, I think they really are more passive than most people may suspect. On Thursday, Aug. 8, I started my day of charter fishing with a seven-hour shark trip. The charter and I ventured down to an area off Oak Island called Ocean Crest Pier. This pier consistently produces average to large sharks because of its hard bottom, which holds the bait that sharks prey on, such as croakers and grey trout.

Upon arrival, first mate Ben Morris and I began to deploy live and cut baits back into our chum slick we created. Not two minutes after the second balloon was adrift, our first shark had struck our line. The balloon began to streak across the water, indicating a decent size shark had taken our bait. Then, out of nowhere, the balloon stopped and there wasn’t any tension on the line. How did the shark run that hard with the bait and not get hooked?

From what I have learned with sharks, it was not necessarily about getting the bite. The initial hookup of the shark is the toughest part. With the reputation sharks have, people would assume that they would grab the bait with velocity and swallow it whole. Little do they know that these sharks will chew on the bait up to a minute before they will commit to eating it.

After re-baiting our hooks and finally catching a few nice size blacktip sharks, we decided to call it a day and head in. My charter walked off the boat and noted that out of everything he learned and experienced on the charter, it was really eye opening to see how finicky these sharks could be. Even though he had assumed that these sharks were extremely aggressive, he walked away having a deeper respect for them.

Off the beach a bit, bottom fishing has been the hot item around the long bay area. The gag and scamp grouper finally have begun to make their move back into depths of 80 feet. I have been having luck with lively pinfish just a few cranks off the bottom. However, be sure to use a heavy enough rod to pull these fish out of the rocks. They are notorious for breaking off after burrowing into a rock pile.

The king mackerel have been scarce this year. Some medium-sized school fish have been caught in 90 to 100 feet, depending on the water clarity. Hopefully, this fishery will begin to improve as the kings will begin their migration inland sooner than later.

The mahi mahi action has been sporadic as well. There were a few nice gaffer dolphin being caught off the weed lines a few weeks back. However, the weed lines have deteriorated from all the strong winds we had in the past week. All we can do now is hope for some better weather. Once the conditions stabilize and the fish have enough time to aggressively feed, the bite will turn on like a light switch.     

Capt. Derek Treffingeris an Ocean Isle Fishing Center offshore charter captain, avid angler and duck hunter and business student at UNCW. He can be reached at djt3521@uncw.edu.