Military Appreciation Day commendable event

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By Jeffrey Weeks, Fishing Correspondent

Inshore fishing has slowed down a bit but, hopefully, that is just the usual slack time between late summer and fall. Some big fish are still being caught and offshore fishing is decent.
Before I get to the fishing report, I want to comment on the Military Appreciation Day (MAD) 6 event that went on Saturday at Oak Island. The MAD events are terrific daylong celebrations of our heroic U.S. military forces, with local (and some non-local) charter captains and saltwater boat owners volunteering to take the troops out for a free day of fishing.
MAD began in Morehead City in 2006 and I was a volunteer at the second event. It has grown over time and now includes events in Morehead City and here in Brunswick County at Oak Island, as well as some other operations to give our troops thanks.
Chris Franks and Scott Krieger and a host of volunteers ran MAD 6 on sea and land. A lot of troops were taken out for a fun day of fishing, and many boats came back with coolers full of fish. The big fish of the day was a 45-pound wahoo caught off the boat Big Mama, and several king mackerel more than 30 pounds were boated.
My family volunteered for MAD 6 and we had a great time. I cleaned fish much of the day, so I saw the fish haul coming in and going home. There were a lot of black sea bass, snapper and triggerfish caught by the offshore bottom boats, while the inshore boats boasted several nice redfish and some flounder, including one flounder that was more than 5 pounds.
The troops were thankful of the experience and about the nicest bunch of men and women you could meet. Some of them left with a lot of delicious fillets. My children had a great time helping serve them their free hamburger and hot dog dinner, which was at the Oak Island Moose Lodge with food donated by local restaurants.
Overall, the MAD events are terrific ways for fishermen and local volunteers to show their appreciation to the military. The Oak Island events are now annual, and if you get a chance to help out through time or donations it is a great way to give back to the troops who protect our great country. If you are in the military, it is a great way to have a fun-filled day of free fishing and food.
You can get a lot more information about the MAD events at their website at www.militaryappreciationday.org.
This week’s inshore fishing report is not as good as last week’s, but I really think we are just in the little dry stretch that usually comes between late summer and solid fall fishing. The one fish I am worried about are the speckled trout, which have not shown up all summer. The fish kill last winter could have hurt them but we will have to wait on the fall season to see.
The big red drum are out at the Little River jetties, though they will not be there long. Now is the time to go out and get a big catch-and-release redfish. You can motor out yourself into upper South Carolina (in which case you need a South Carolina fishing license) or hire a guide for a half-day trip (you won’t need a license with most certified guides).
Flounder fishing has been slow, but some big flounder have been caught around inshore structures. The piers have seen a few pompano, spot, sea mullet and black drum, but since the two hurricanes stirred things up, pier and surf fishing have not quite rebounded.
Some piers to the north of Brunswick County have had short yellowbelly spot runs already, so that action might kick in any day. I really hope for a solid spot run this year after two down years for spot on our shores.
The best bet right now is still those dependable redfish (smaller red drum) in the backwater creeks and around bridges and docks. Use live finger mullet on fishfinder rigs or slow-fished scented soft baits like Gulp lures. There is some scattered early morning topwater redfish action, too, coming to shallow water anglers using hard plugs.
We can look forward to fishing getting better each week as we approach the fall season. It shouldn’t be long now until our waters are very active with feeding fish and hopeful anglers.