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Watch for Gulls and You’Ll Find the Bluefish Catch of the Week

July 11, 2008

By DAMON TATUMDAMON TATEMBY DAMON TATUM

BEACH, PIER AND BRIDGE FISHING

Corolla to Coquina Beach

Surfcasters should catch mainly a mixture of small bottom fish this week along the northern beaches. Small croaker, spot, sea mullet, sand perch and a few pigfish should be beached just about every day by bottom fishing anglers using fresh shrimp or bloodworms. No.

4 to 6 hooks are preferred, since these fish have small mouths, making them difficult to catch with larger hooks.

Surfcasters will find action on the incoming or high tide when these small fish move inshore close to the surf line to feed on small worms and crustaceans. Action will be best if the incoming or high tide occurs early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the weather is hot and the sky virtually cloudless.

There is no size or creel limit on small bottom fish such as spot, croaker and sea mullet, but anglers should keep only what they intend to use and release the rest.

Small bluefish also should keep anglers along the beach busy, particularly when the water is clear. Blues should be landed fairly easily on metal lures when the water is clear. Feeding birds are a good indicator of bluefish action in an area. Bluefish are voracious feeders that vigorously attack schools of small bait fish, chewing them up and leaving many small pieces of shredded fish behind. Sharp- eyed gulls immediately spot these free lunches and zero in on a fresh meal.

Bluefish also will be easily taken on fresh cut bait when the water is somewhat dirty. Most anglers use cut mullet or menhaden placed on fireball rigs or regular bottom rigs. Steel leaders are a plus as bluefish have sharp teeth and make quick work of even heavy monofilament leaders.

Anglers can keep 15 bluefish per person per day with no more than five larger than 24 inches in total length. Total length is measured from the tip of the snout with the mouth closed to the top of the compressed tail. There is no minimum size limit regulation on bluefish.

A few speckled trout should be caught by anglers casting soft plastic lures in deeper sloughs along the beach in the Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores areas. Most of the trout should be keeper- sized, with larger fish scarce. Early in the morning should be the most productive time to fish for speckled trout.

Pier anglers in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head should land a summertime mixture of small bottom fish such as spot, small croaker and sea mullet. The best fishing should be when the water is dirty and the tide is rising. Fishing usually drops off as the tide begins to fall after high water.

Clear water along the oceanfront should provide early morning and late afternoon runs of bluefish. A few Spanish mackerel also should be decked. Most of these fish should be taken on Gotcha lures from the ends or near the ends of ocean piers.

Anglers can keep 15 Spanish mackerel 12 inches or larger in fork length per person per day. Fork length is measured from the tip of the snout to the middle of the fork in the tail.

Triggerfish, some spadefish and sheepshead also should be caught when the water is clear. These fish often are hooked close to a pier piling where they feed on small marine life living amid the grasses and barnacles.

A few speckled trout should be landed by lure anglers when the water is clear close to the beach. An occasional gray trout also should be taken on both lures and bait. Anglers can keep 10 speckled trout 12 inches or larger in total length and six gray trout 12 inches or larger in total length per person per day.

Live bait anglers could haul in a big cobia, king mackerel or jack at any time when light onshore winds push clear, warm surface Gulf Stream water close to the beach.

Anglers fishing from the Melvin Daniels Jr. Bridge on the Nags Head/Roanoke Island causeway should catch a handful of speckled trout and several flounder just about every morning at first light. Small bottom fish, a few black drum and puppy drum should be reeled in during the day.

Oregon Inlet area

Sheepshead, black drum and some small bottom fish should keep anglers occupied on the catwalk on the south end of the Bonner Bridge across Oregon Inlet.

Surfcasters in the inlet area should land some small bluefish, bottom fish, puppy drum and flounder.

Pea Island to Buxton

Small bottom fish should be abundant in the surf. Pinhead croaker and small spot will provide most of the action along with a few nice sea mullet. A few pompano and some keeper flounder also will be taken. Lots of small flounder will be released.

Scattered bluefish weighing between a half and 2 pounds should be beached fairly regularly along with some Spanish mackerel. The best action will be when the water is clear, with most of the fish taken on Stingsilvers.

Anglers fishing in the Buxton area should catch bluefish, some nice sea mullet and an occasional cobia. Flounder and speckled trout should be landed along the beach near the Buxton jetties.

Pier anglers along the northern beaches of Hatteras Island should have great luck catching small spot, croaker and sea mullet when the water is murky.

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel action should be good early mornings and just before sunset when winds are light and the water is clear. Gotcha lures in a variety of colors will produce the best results.

Pier jockeys also should deck some triggerfish, spadefish and sheepshead when the water is clear. Fair numbers of keeper flounder should be taken, and lots of small flounder should be released. Anglers can keep 8 flounder 15 1/2 inches or larger in total length per person per day.

A nice cobia, king mackerel, jack crevalle or barracuda could be caught by a live bait angler at any time when conditions are right.

Buxton to Hatteras Inlet

Fair numbers of small bottom fish, small bluefish and some flounder should be landed along the beach south of the cape. Some nice sea mullet, pompano and small bottom fish should be taken along the Frisco beach when winds are light to moderate. Bluefish and some Spanish mackerel should be caught fairly regularly in the surf near Ramp 55 when the water is clear.

Frisco pier anglers should land some small bottom fish when the water is somewhat dirty, and quite a few bluefish and Spanish mackerel when the water is clear. Some nice-sized flounder and pompano also should be decked. Fishing usually is slow in the area when winds are strong and gusty from the south west and seas are rough.

INSHORE TROLLING AND BOAT FISHING

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel should keep inshore boaters busy in the Oregon and Hatteras inlet areas.

Boaters also should catch a few cobia, and anglers drift fishing with live bait in both inlets should land some nice flounder. Flounder fishing should be exceptionally good when light onshore winds push clear ocean water into the inlets and sounds. Anglers can keep two cobia 33 inches or larger in fork length per person per day.

Boaters fishing in the sounds west of Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet should deck plenty of speckled trout, some flounder, small bottom fish and a few puppy drum. Anglers can keep one puppy drum 18 to 27 inches in total length per person per day.

Headboats in both inlet areas should catch flounder and small bottom fish on inshore trips, and tilefish, sea bass, triggerfish and a few grouper when fishing in deeper water on wrecks outside the inlets.

OFFSHORE, GULF STREAM

Blue water action off Oregon Inlet should be good with dolphin, yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo taken. A few jumbo big-eye tuna should be landed and fair numbers of billfish should be released. Billfish action should improve during periods of light and moderate northeast winds.

Gulf Stream fishing off Hatteras should be good with lots of dolphin, some nice wahoo, a few king mackerel and an occasional tuna decked. Anglers can keep three king mackerel 24 inches or larger in fork length per person per day. Scattered billfish including quite a few sailfish should be released.

Originally published by BY DAMON TATUMDAMON TATEMBY DAMON TATUM.

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