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It has been a typical spring season for the Brunswick islands. The winter cold overlapped well into our spring season, stunning the migration and growth of bait. It has been harder than usual to find finger mullet, shrimp and menhaden. These are all staple food sources for our flounder when they start to travel from the ocean into our backwater looking for an easy meal.
Menhaden have been the go to bait lately as several schools finally have shown up in the waterway. I know for sure large schools of menhaden have been hanging around the Ocean Isle Marina and around channel markers 65 to 67 near Holden Beach. Other areas that should be holding these great flounder baits are the old Marsh Harbor Marina and St. James Marina.
Menhaden can be caught with a cast net as small as 5 feet with 3/8-inch mesh, but I recommend learning to throw a large heavier net. I really like my 8 feet, 5/8-inch mesh net when the bait doesn’t want to cooperate. You will be glad you brought a heavier net when the bait is only flipping once every five minutes. While everyone else is still looking and trying to catch bait, you will be fishing.
One more tip to get the bait quick and move on is investing in a trolling motor. Stealth is important, but often times you will hear the bait flip before actually seeing it. Turning off the big motor and listening will help you locate the bait and the trolling motor can get you in perfect position to make, hopefully, the only cast you will need.
The live well is full of lively menhaden, so let’s go flounder around in your favorite creek. Tubbs Inlet has been a local hot spot for years to lazily drift around to pick up a few flounder for dinner. Over the years, this inlet has gotten shallower and shallower, making certain areas hard to access. The fishing area continues to shrink, making it difficult when boats start to drift into the area. Regardless of the shrinking area, it continues to be the best early spring spot for catching flounder.
We are now approaching late spring with more and more flounder starting to show up everywhere. Flounder are at the Little River jetties, Calabash crossroads, Sunset Bridge and all the river systems along the Brunswick islands. We usually see some 5-pound fish start to show up in May. The bigger fish have been a bit slow to really show themselves until this last weekend.
The Fisherman’s Post had its first tournament in its inshore trail May 31 out of the Ocean Isle Fishing Center. The flounder made a great showing just in time for this event. Naturally, when you get some of the best local fishermen together for a tournament, the fish will be found. Some really nice flounder were weighed at this tournament and we continue to see nice fish come to the scales at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center. A young man named Cody weighed in a stud 10- pound slab just a day after the tournament.
The tournament produced two 7-pounders and two more than 5 pounds. The bigger fish weighed in the tournament came from the Lockwood Folly and Cape Fear River areas. If you are fishing the second tournament in Fisherman’s Post inshore trial June 20-21, out of Southport, that is really good information. I am certain this tournament is going to produce some really good fish. The Cape Fear River area is home to some of the most fertile flounder fishing in our immediate area. If you are going to be down here fishing, you should join the tournament.
Some words from the wise: If you enter tournament, also enter all the TWTs (tournaments within the tournament). I see it every year that the primary winner elects not to enter all the TWTs and ends up watching someone in second or third place take home all the money. The flounder are here and now is the time to take a vacation to just flounder around.
If the inshore game isn’t in your toolbox, don’t forget the Jolly Mon Kingfish Tournament June 19-22, based at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center. Capt. Brant McMullan, the tournament director and three-time SKA National Kingfish Champion, puts on an awesome show. McMullan, with a young family of his own, has a great passion for involving the whole family. The tournament is fun for all ages and McMullan each year tries provide more prize money for participants. King mackerel is the primary target and brings home the best check, but again McMullan knows that other fish join the fight often when fishermen are targeting kings. The Jolly Mon is set up to offer prize money for several other species as well to make it fun for participants.
Come on out and join us as the king mackerel fishing trail takes on a new, brighter future with new ownership. See ya on the water!
Capt. Jacob Frick, who has 10 years of knowledge and experience in guiding family, friends, and clients in the backwater surrounding Ocean Isle Beach, is a fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at (803) 315-3310 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information or questions about his columns.