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And now to the next phase of the fishing experience. Late fall has officially arrived as temperatures this week plummet into the 30s. Beach water temperatures have fallen to the mid-60s and the fish are on the move. The spots will be running at their peak over the next week or two. Watch for the piers to be lined with fishermen facing north as a sign the bite is on.
There are still some king mackerel on the beach, but the majority are going to start moving offshore to the 55- to 70-foot depth range. The Kings are going to start keying on the schools of cigar minnows that congregate in this depth range every November.
The most effective technique to catch the kings is to jig up live cigar minnows from the schools using Sabiki rigs and then put the live cigar on a king rig and put it back out to slow troll. A spread of a couple of these baits up top and one on the down rigger will lead to action. Other baits that work well include dead cigar minnows, ribbon fish and of course live menhaden if you are able to catch them.
You may recall from last week’s report I was touting the arrival of the annual Fall Brawl King Classic. Well, Mother Nature once again put a hex on the weekend’s weather, and I decided it best to postpone the tournament to this weekend. I hate to even mention it, but as of now, the weather report for the weekend looks pretty good with north winds of 10-15 knots and seas 3 feet. The difference in fishing from this week to what would have been last week has a lot to do with the cooling water. The menhaden that run the beach and are a favorite bait are going to be difficult to catch. They typically scatter and become very elusive when the water temperatures fall below 70 degrees. As such, using the cigar minnows and other baits mentioned above will likely be the play for success in the tournament. I look for hot spots to be the Shark Hole, 390/390, Jungle, 70-foot hole, Fairway Ledges and Frying Pan Tower.
On-line registration is open all week. Friday at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center, registration will continue with the captain’s meeting at 7 p.m. and the famous spot races at 7:30 p.m. Fishing will take place on Saturday and Sunday, with fishermen weighing in on both days between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend the weigh-in to watch the show.
That’s pretty much the scene for this week. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather for the Fall Brawl King Classic.
Brant McMullan is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.