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Mid-August to mid-September is sort of the stepchild of fishing seasons. The summer bite has mostly shut down, and the fall bite has yet to begin. The main reason for the slow down is from the high water temperatures.
Fish, whether inshore or offshore, seek cooler water in the depths and typically become less active. And thus, here we are. Sitting on “G”, waiting on “O.” I’ve got the fall kingfish, wahoo and grouper fishing on my calendar, and the GO date is about Sept. 20. Gas prices on the dock are in the $3.70s, and steadily going down, so let’s go fishing.
As for the fishing right now, there are still some fisheries that are happening. The wahoo bite has started to pick up in the 120- to 200-foot depth range. The 100/400 and black jack holes are usually good spots. Different from the spring season, where you will likely see a mix of dolphin and tuna, the late summer and fall is pretty much all wahoo.
To target these speedy fish, pull baits at speeds in excess of 7 knots and mix in a lot of artificial lures that can be pulled even faster. Also, try to fish your baits below the water’s surface, as wahoo often feed best 10-50 feet under the surface.
The other fishing that is pretty much consistent all the time is bottom-fishing in the 100- to 150-foot depth range. Right now there are tons of snapper in this range, and you will likely also find grouper, jumbo sea bass and African pompano. This depth range is also where many of the king mackerel have moved to, and free-lining a live or dead bait behind the boat while bottom-fishing will often lead to a screaming reel.
Closer to shore, the Spanish are still biting along the beaches in 20-30 feet of water, and the nearshore reefs are holding flounder and spadefish.
This weekend is the annual South Brunswick Islands King Classic. The tournament is hosted from Holden Beach Marina and typically draws over 100 of the area’s top king mackerel fishermen. First place will likely exceed $20,000, and that is enough incentive for me to get out on the water and look for the big one.
We have had a lot of wind as of late, and I really don’t have a clue as to where the big kings might be laying. It is likely the Cape Fear River could produce a winner, as well as the jungle, but it is hard to say. Either way, registration is 5-7 p.m. Friday, so come on down and throw your money in the pot and let’s go fishing. Good luck to all.
BRANT McMULLAN is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.