Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ocracoke Inlet Bluefish Trolling and Flounder Drifting

Captain Ryan O'Neal of Tarheel Charters told us we might encounter some red drum between 20 and 60 pounds, this news coming just after my son had done a little online research, discovering for himself that citation reds of over 40 inches inhabit shoals out in Pamlico Sound all summer. I knew about the likes, but without a boat, there's no use.

It would take a lot of time, too, though there's nothing else quite enjoyable as is learning new water. So the news from Ryan made it all seem a lot easier, even if we ran into none today. He's been sighting dark patches in the clear water and positioning his 25-foot Carolina Skiff close enough to cast large bucktails to the edges of schools of drum he estimates number between 500 and 1000 fish. They're outside the inlet mouth and today seemed auspicious with barely a breeze and very calm water, though no reds materialized.

We found a school of bluefish with some Spanish mackerel mixed in, having trolled from inside the inlet and on out. It took awhile. We saw no birds after baitfish anywhere. Once all three rods hooked up at once, and it was pretty easy to circle back and hook up again, although a few times it took us awhile to find that school which must have been pretty small. We caught more than a dozen-and-a-half blues and a small Spanish mackerel on Clark spoons, and then we settled into drifting for flounder.

I liked the depth. We drifted, as tide fell, not far from South Point, and three-ounce dipsey sinkers took forever to touchdown on bottom. Ryan read 32 feet deep on the graph. Flounder carpeted the bottom, but you never know--a cobia is possible even this time of year and deep water holds them. Back in 2010 I caught a seven-pounder in August. That's a very small cobia, and yet a good fish nevertheless. Ryan has guided clients who have hooked up with 40-pounders, and not only until early July when they generally vacate the premises.

We caught flounders steadily, and when we finished our drifts well out to sea, though still drifting past buoys, had some action with blacktip sharks of about 20 inches, sighting one that might have been 28 inches, hoping to get a look at a big one, or for a big one to devour one of the little flounders we reeled in.

The biggest flounder measured 17 1/2 inches, and more than a half dozen others met and exceeded 15-inch keeper size. These are the same species as the fluke of New Jersey, only they don't grow as large here.
Matt's barely legal Spanish mackerel. Notice the gold spots like doubloons. 
Had I hooked up with a cobia, I would have shot straight up, but as the fishing unfolded, felt comfortable reeling in the flounder with ease.
Patricia is almost finished Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
Caught the biggest lizard fish I've ever seen, like a small pickerel.

Lots of keeper flounder and tailor and a few cocktail blues.
Flounder double-header for Matt, which Ryan unhooks.

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