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Rules about anchored gill net permits

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By Capt. Jacob Frick

 A few years ago, the harmful effects of sea turtle encounters with gill nets were brought to the mainstream. Technology has allowed concerned observers to capture video and pictures of all sorts of marine life destroyed by those careless with gill nets. Gill nets left unattended for several hours can capture and destroy many marine animals, such as sea turtles, dolphins, birds and sturgeon.

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Agencies that manage our saltwater fishery have changed several rules and regulations with the hope of reducing the harmful effects to marine animals that fall under the Endangered Species Act. One of those new rules was that certain gill nets can’t be left unattended and should be actively fished. Another rule was encounters with sea turtles are to be reported by those using gill nets. If reports of sea turtle encounters are high in the area, netting will be closed. That is why several groups believe several encounters have gone unreported. The law was leaving it up to those netting to report encounters. Let’s face it, why would anyone report an encounter that could shut down his business?

A solution was presented to the committee to put observers on these boats to accurately report sea turtle encounters. The National Marine Fisheries Service has required North Carolina to identify all those who use anchored gill nets both commercially and recreationally. North Carolina’s answer to identify those persons is to issue a free permit. All vessels using anchored gill nets will be required to have this permit effective Sept. 1, 2014. The new permit should allow North Carolina to be more efficient at getting observers on boats and to get a better hold on accurately recording data for endangered species encounters with anchored gill nets. You can contact the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries for more information, concerns and questions at (800) 682-2632.

What is going on in the backwater? The backwater is still stained and dirty from our last round of wind and thunderstorms. The weather has remained inconsistent with the fishing following the same inconsistent pattern. One day the flounder bite is decent, but good luck finding the same action two days in a row. Speckled trout were biting here July 31 like bulldogs but have disappeared Aug. 1. Redfish ate the prop off the boat Monday, Tuesday and Thursday last week but did not show up Wednesday or Friday.

When all else fails, we have fallen back on the small black drum in the 12- to 13-inch range to keep the lines tight. Please be sure to adhere to the new regulations on black drum. Black drum now have to fall in a slot between 14 to 25 inches in order to be legally harvested. They also have a creel limit of 10 per person per day. The croaker also will keep you busy if you are in to that sort of fishing. If you are looking for a challenging adventure, sheepshead are hanging around hard structure, but catching one is tricky.

Live mullet minnow fished on a Carolina rig has been the most effective technique to have a chance at catching all three major species this past week. Mullet have been pretty easy to catch near low tide in the middle of the waterway, and good schools are in the canals. Live menhaden are flipping everywhere, but no bites have come on that bait this past week. Shrimp are showing up pretty good in many of our shallow creeks. Fishing live shrimp under floats or on a light Carolina rig can be effective on speckled trout and especially the black drum.

It is that time of year where decisions on whether to move or stay can make all the difference in success. Communicating with other trusted anglers can help relieve some of the stress of finding the fish. Capt. Jeff Williamson and I communicate constantly trying to keep clients with tight lines. Staying on the move has helped me put a few fish in the box each day this past week. At the same time, setting up shop in one area has produced fast and furious action as well. We live and die by those decisions: should I stay or should I go? Just as soon as you leave the area you just know the fish are going start eating the bottom of the boat. My advice is to hold your head high and have confidence in your decisions. Stick with it and the fish will come your way.

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 jacob@oifc.com for additional information or questions about his columns.