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Fishing and waiting on a change

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By Brant McMullan, Fishing Correspondent

Hurry up and wait; that’s what fishing feels like right now. It is typical for early spring. Cabin fever is at its highest level, and the urge to get out on the water is overwhelming. However, the water temperatures, weather and fish aren’t all in line. And as an additional obstacle, state and federal government regulations are handcuffing fishing efforts as well.

The biggest issue is the new all-out closure on sea bass fishing. It has never been done, and due to some out-of -touch politicians sitting in an office with no windows in Washington, D.C., fishermen are left unable to catch and eat our area’s most plentiful and best eating fish. 

It is absurd. 

Over the weekend, we ran a couple of half-day fishing charters out of the Ocean Isle Fishing Center. The trips are four-hours long, and as such, we stay within just a few miles of shore. That is no worry, as sea bass are well within that range. However, most folks who go fishing offshore like not only to have fun catching the fish but also to reap the rewards of eating their catch. 

Our charter had a great time catching sea bass until their arms were sore. The bass are so thick you literally can’t not catch them; a bare hook without bait will get bites. Fortunately, they were good sports in having to release their catch. 

That is the good news. The bad news is the number of charter customers who have decided not to go fishing due to these regulations. It blows my mind to see the regulations placed and the so-called science used to determine the new rules. And it seems no matter how many rallies, e-mails and phone calls made to get the attention of politicians, nothing makes a difference. The sea bass fishery is scheduled to be closed until June. 

Anyway, I get off on these rants because it drives me crazy. The water temperatures from the beach to 50 or so miles offshore are in the low 60s. These temperatures are a bit cool for top-water fish; however, when temperatures reach 66-68 degrees, the ocean will be a different place to fish. In particular, Spanish mackerel and king mackerel will begin to show, and our world of sport fishing will come to life. This will begin to happen within the next month.

Also, the Gulf Stream fishing for wahoo and tuna will take a turn for the best, as April is typically the peak month. This is what we have to look forward to, but for the time being, time will pass at a snail’s pace as we await changes in weather to take hold.