Patience is key for spring fishing

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By Capt. Derek Treffinger

Fishing and spring break commotion have seemed to subside with the wind and rain our county has endured. Last week, it seemed more like summer with the many visitors to Brunswick County islands and the warm temperatures. Yet this week, tempo has slowed as we all wait for more good weather to go fishing again.

            Before this soggy weather April 22-24, anglers took advantage of the calm seas and found multiple signs that spring fishing is in full swing. Along the beachfront out to 10 miles, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are beginning to be caught more frequently. Baitfish such as glass minnows and menhaden are much more prevalent; thus, the predatory fish have been not far behind. Clarkspoons trolled behind No. 1 planers between 4 to 6 knots have been producing the best catches for local anglers. Surprisingly, cobia and have been mixed in with the Spanish and blues as well. As I stated in my column last week, remember that anglers can legally keep cobia only if they are 36 inches or longer and may only keep one fish per person in North Carolina State waters (0 to 3 miles out). Thus, be mindful of the new cobia regulations and where you are fishing for them.

Atlantic bonito are being caught slightly farther out, also. While trolling the same gear as mentioned above, anglers have had success with the tasty tunas around the artificial reefs and wrecks in the 10- to 20-mile range. If the bonito aren’t your speed, there have also been good catches of king mackerel coming from local hot spots such as the Atlantic Ledge, Bill Perry Reef and the Jungle. Hopefully, these small schools of king mackerel will continue to populate the offshore reefs and wrecks as the water continues to warm. Also, be on the lookout for larger kings to begin moving into to areas such as the Navy Wreck, and the Southwest Frying Pan Shoals Tower ledges. These areas are usually a good place to start looking for 20+ pound kings.

Amid the kings, Spanish and bonito action, almost every angler has yearned for the first solid report of mahi mahi action. And, unfortunately, they have not made their way to our coastline yet. After reading and acquiring information from sources around Charleston, S.C., and northern Georgia, the fish are on their way. Many boats in those regions mentioned had double-digit catches of dolphin fish last week as well as good blackfin tuna action. Thus, the unfortunate part for our coastline is all we can do is wait. If the winds continue to blow as they have been the past two weeks, I anticipate the mahi mahi being off our stretch of coastline this weekend. If you are planning a trip to the Gulf Stream in the near future, be sure to bring a few bags of small ballyhoo and a handful of one-half ounce sea witches. Pairing these bait/lure combos is always a good way to target migrating dolphin fish along our coast.

Till the wind decides to lie down, we can only wait to see what Mother Nature has in store for us off our coast. With the weather warming up this week, it should produce calmer conditions for our local anglers to get out to see what’s biting.


Capt. Derek Treffingeris an Ocean Isle Fishing Center offshore charter captain, avid angler and duck hunter. He can be reached at derek@oifc.com.