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The fishing has finally started to fire off around Brunswick County this week. We have waited patiently for some time now that the weather and marine conditions would stabilize for a few days to let the fish feed. With a sigh of relief, this finally happened. We have brought in good catches of Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, sea bass, vermillion snapper and triggerfish. As mentioned in a previous article, the water clarity was just not where it needed to be for the Spanish mackerel to feed. Yet like a light switch this changed Aug. 14. The cleaner water that has resided in the 5-mile range finally pushed into our beaches, bringing copious amounts of glass minnows with it.
Not long after this happened, Spanish mackerel were in these schools feeding aggressively. Clsarkspoons rigged with a long 25-foot 20-pound leader attached to a No. 1 planer have been producing most of my bites. However, be careful while trolling around these thick schools of Spanish mackerel. Anglers have a tendency of trolling straight through the school rather than trolling closely beside it. By trolling beside the school, the Spanish mackerel and glass minnows are less likely to get spooked and break apart. Also, if you are having trouble getting bites while trolling, try adjusting your speed. The typical speed for Spanish mackerel fishing is around 6 knots. However I have been having better luck with these schooling fish by slowing down to 4 knots. Details make the difference when targeting schooling fish.
The king mackerel also started to bite a little bit better this week. Good catches of kings were coming from anglers tournament fishing southwest of frying pan tower. This area has a reputation of producing nice size kings during the dog days of summer because of its plentiful bait source and how close it is to deeper water. The majority of the anglers catching these kings were using live menhaden and bluefish fished either free lined up top or on a downrigger. While using this live bait spread, anglers have been catching dolphin fish, barracuda and some African pompano.
This population of king mackerel will continue to stage on the ledges south west of frying pan tower until the water starts to cool down. Then these fish will make their run that everyone has been waiting for: to the beach. This run typically happens between the last week in September to the third week in October. With the way our climate has been the past few years, who knows what kind of temperatures this fall will bring us. My magic date is Oct. 10. This is typically when the large schools of horse mullet begin to run our shorelines while making their migrations southward. This is perfect forage for large kings trying to bulk up for the winter.
Along with the top water species, bottom fishing finally fired off this week as well. On the charter boats fishing out of the Ocean Isle Fishing Center, we brought in good catches of sea bass, vermillion snapper and a few grouper. With the extremely warm water temperatures varying the top water bite, these species of bottom fish would be my main target while going offshore. Anglers can really turn a slow day into a memorable day with a good bottom sounder and some lively pinfish. Around it this time of year, these bottom fish typically hang around hard bottom with a sharp ledge somewhere. While fishing over this structure, be sure to have enough lead weight and a heavy enough rod and reel set up to horse whatever you hook up off the bottom.
With the fishing finally starting to improve, now is a perfect time to establish some new fishing spots. While running to your first stop offshore or slow trolling at your favorite king mackerel hole, ease off the numbers a bit to see whether any new reef or ledge has formed while this horrible weather occurred. You will be amazed to see how much you find in a few hundred yards off your favorite fishing hole.
Capt. Derek Treffingeris an Ocean Isle Fishing Center offshore charter captain, avid angler and duck hunter and business student at UNCW. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Capt. Derek Treffinger