By: Steve Fifer
The big fishing news locally involves big fish. Really big fish. The bluefin tuna have arrived off our beaches and several have been brought to the docks over the past week. This is highly specialized fishing using heavy (50 to 130# class tackle) but can reward you with the fish of a lifetime. Our local charter captains are as good as it gets at finding and hooking them, so if you see a kind of calm day in the forecast and feel like a good workout, give one of them a call. The ocean is still sort of warm with temps in the low-to mid 50’s and when conditions permit, there’s lots to catch. Along the beaches you’ll find sea mullet, black drum and redfish in the surf while just a bit further out, false albacore are chasing bait in big schools. The rock jetty at Cape Lookout is holding speckled trout, gray trout, and bluefish as well as about a zillion other boats! It remains a good spot when you can find a place to squeeze in. The AR’s (285, 315, 320, 330) and live bottoms (Northwest Places, Big 10/Little 10) are good spots to do some bottom fishing for black sea bass, porgies, and triggerfish. A sturdy 2-hook bottom rig baited with squid, frozen cigar minnows or mackerel and enough weight to keep it on the bottom is very effective. Metal jigs in the 2-4 ounce weights are equally as good. Stingsilvers and Bluewater Candy’s Rosco Jr’s. are deadly when bounced off the bottom. And don’t overlook a 2-ounce (or heavier if necessary) bucktail jig with a 4” Gulp shrimp trailer. The story inshore is speckled trout. They can be found at virtually every well-known spot along the ICW and adjacent sounds, marshes, and creeks. There’s lots of sub-legal fish right now so keep in mind that when you use a towel to help hold them, you have probably just killed them. The towel removes the natural, bacteria and parasite fighting slime layer. Mirrolures remain the most popular hard bait for trout, but there are several top-notch alternatives. Normark’s Rapala X-Rap and Twitchin’ Rap and Yo-Zuri’s #3DS are all slow-sinking or suspending lures that can be worked very slowly – a necessity at this time of year – and still have good action. Don’t overlook a popping cork and plastic shrimp, either. In the clear water, a fluorocarbon leader 2 to 4’ is helpful and a loop knot gives better action to the shrimp. There are several excellent brands to choose from and all of them work. Try D.O.A., Betts, Vudu, or Storm in the ¼ ounce size.