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I apologize for missing last week’s report. The honest truth is I was so wrapped up in fishing, it slipped my mind.
The Ocean Isle Fishing Center charter crews, myself included, have been enjoying the best king mackerel fishing we have seen in two years. I don’t have an answer as to why, but I will say it sure is nice to feel confident that I can actually go out and target and catch king mackerel on a consistent basis.
The bite has been strong for the past two weeks in the 60-70 feet of water. I believe the main reason for the improved fishing has been the stable weather we have had. Winds have remained fewer than 20 knots and the wind has bee from a consistent direction for a prolonged period, which in turn allowed the water quality to improve to a desired clarity for kings.
The hotspot in mid to late June was the Shark Hole area, but that has seemed to shift more to the west as the better king fishing has been taking place at the 65-foot hole and the Jungle. The pogies have been extremely plentiful up and down the beach, and thus live bait fishing for kings has been easy to accomplish.
Now, fast forward to Sunday. We had a really strong southwest wind flow the past several days, and I’ve been concerned the water would get stirred up and the kings move off. So far, only the beach water out to 50 feet or so has been dirtied, and we are still fighting through the seas and finding kings in the 60-70 feet of water.
Truth be told, the last couple of days the beach water has been so stirred up we couldn’t find pogies, so we’ve been having nearly as good of luck using dead cigar minnows. The key ingredient to finding an area holding kings at this time seems to be the presence of live cigar minnows.
These baitfish are favorites for kings, and if you mark clouds of bait suspended up off the bottom, it is likely it is cigar minnows, and thus kings are close. Let’s keep our fingers crossed the kings stay biting and stay within this reasonably close range.
In other fishing, the Spanish mackerel bite was hot, but it will be shut down for a while until the winds die and the near-shore water clears. Offshore, were are still mixing in the occasional Mahi-mahi or cobia while fishing in 60-70 feet of water, but farther offshore in 80 feet or more, both are more plentiful. Inshore, the red drum bite had been red-hot until the recent winds and resulting dirty water, but the recent report is oddly enough of a strong speckled trout bite.
That’s the report for this week. My crew and I will try to work through these tough sea conditions and, hopefully, keep the bite going. Just know that when the weather breaks, be sure you are ready—as the fish are waiting.
Brant McMullan, a two-time winner of the SKA national championship, is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.