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Those are the time-appropriate words spoken by my Grandpa Mac. He grew up in the Mississippi woods, and I’m quite sure there was some form of sanctioned catfish racing. And you may well imagine, you had better be ready when standing in the starting blocks of a catfish race.
And thus as Brunswick County fishermen we are standing in the starting blocks: it is time to go. The weather change we experienced this past week was swift and dramatic. The cool temperatures and strong north winds initially hurt the fishing, but by the time you read this article, the winds will be dropping and the temperatures rising, and the fish will be coming out hungry.
In fact, many fisheries before the weather change were already doing well. There was an early spot run beginning, the wahoo were biting in the Gulf Stream, the redfish were schooling around the docks on the Intracoastal Waterway and the vermillion snapper were thick offshore.
Really, the only thing missing were the king mackerel. They have been a mystery all year. The problem is kings are the primary offshore gamefish in this area, and when they go missing, it leaves a lot of fishermen wondering.
Who knows where they are, but let me shed this light. In many parts of the country where they have a diversity of fisheries, king mackerel rank low on desired species list. It has been ingrained in our minds to catch kings, and I do love it also, but we have got to snap out of it and change gears to other fisheries that are producing.
How about a great day of catching vermillion snapper, grouper and wahoo? Or maybe hang close to shore and catch some Spanish and sea bass?
Now, all this said, it is time for the kings to show up. Traditionally late September and early October start the inshore migration of kings, where they will stack up in the Cape Fear River and feed veraciously. I am crossing my fingers and waiting for the kings to show up. It is fun like no other.
The most encouraging thing I’ve seen this week is that we are in a full blow spot run. This is much earlier than normal, and I believe that Hurricane Irene coupled with the strong cold front we are having has stimulated this move.
For the last several years, Brunswick County has not seen the traditionally big spot run. Many blame netters to the north for catching up too many fish. This year it seems the early run caught northern netters by surprise, which allowed the spots to make it here for our fishermen. Spots are a main food fish not only for you and me but also for all sorts of gamefish, including king mackerel.
Shifting gears, the wahoo in the Gulf Stream should really start coming together as the cool weather will prompt the schools of small tunas to gather and make a feast for the big, hungry wahoo.
There is so much that is about to happen that I can’t focus on which species to target. I will be doing my best to catch them all, so stay tuned to upcoming reports. “Gentlemen, start your catfish.”
Brant McMullan is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at email@example.com.