Winds and weather turn fishing efforts upside down

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Fishermen are notorious for excuses. I’m as guilty as the next; if it’s not one thing messing up the fishing, it’s the next. Most likely the habit started as a self-defense mechanism used to protect the fisherman’s ego while dueling with a species that has a brain the size of pea yet continuously seems to outsmart the fisherman.
Over the years, the excuses have broadened to be so numerous and expansive that explaining your way out of a poor day of fishing is really quite a natural instinct. And thus, here is my excuse for this past week of fishing.
The strong front that passed shocked the fish and gave them lockjaw. Then the wind blew from the west for too long, coupled with a neap tide cycle. (You like that one? It’s when the tides are weaker than normal… I think).
Then when the weather finally stabilized, there was a strong bite for about three hours last Wednesday afternoon. But immediately that night, the wind started howling from the northeast, which again shut down the bite, which has now led to east winds—and, of course, the fish don’t bite on an east wind.
So here we are. It is the middle of October, the best fishing month of the year in our area, and the weather, tides, sun, moon, barometric pressure…have got our fishing turned upside down. But, the good news is the weather will eventually balance itself, and as bad as it is now, it will be just as good in the future.
Hopefully, that good weather won’t be too far off. In fact, the annual Fall Brawl King Classic is set to take place Oct. 21-23 from the Ocean Isle Fishing Center, Ocean Isle Beach. The annual tournament hosts upward of 200 fishing teams from all over the Carolinas, all vying for a first-place prize of at least $20,000.
Last year the weather and fishing turned out great with Jay Bucklen and crew of the Cape Contender taking first place with a tournament record 56-pound king mackerel.
The timing is right, and I firmly believe with some stable weather we could see a repeat of last year’s action. Whether you are a fisherman or a spectator, you are invited to the Ocean Isle Fishing Center to take part in the Fall Brawl King Classic. For information on the tournament including entry form and schedule of events visit www.OIFC.com.
I know I’ve painted a pretty gloomy fishing report above, but there some high points that leave plenty of hope. The gray trout were biting great this week. Fishermen were using live mullet minnows and jigs while fishing over nearshore structures to target the gray trout. In addition, the big bull redfish have been around in good abundance. Through September, they were consistent around Little River inlet, but the past couple of weeks the bite has been less reliable.
However, we have found that the redfish are following the schools of pogies that are so thick along the beach. They are running under the schools, apparently feeding on weaker baits. The best action in these bait schools seems to be when there are dolphins around. My feeling is the redfish pick up the injured pogies as the dolphins heard and rush the school. If you are king mackerel fishing, simply drop your downrigger a few feet off the bottom and troll through the bait. If you are wanting to target the reds, put a live pogy on a 2-ounce jig head or a Carolina rig and cast into the schools of bait. If the redfish are there, it won’t take but a second once your bait hits the bottom.
As I mentioned above, a red-hot king mackerel bite went off last Wednesday afternoon at Lighthouse Rocks. The bite did not start until 3 p.m., but those that were there reported fast action from a good class size of fish; then the weather went sour and since then, there has only been scattered action along the beach front. Stable weather will bring the bite back, so be ready.
Finally, the gag grouper are out there and hungry. They have moved into depths of 70-100 feet and are suckers for live bait. That’s pretty much the happenings for this week. October is the month to go fishing in the Carolinas, but we do need a little help from Mother Nature.
Reminder: The Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel tournament was postponed last weekend and will be based this weekend out of Harbourgate Marina in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. For information, visit www.littleriverfishingclub.com.

Brant McMullan is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at captbrant@oifishingcenter.com.