Friday, August 23, 2013

Pamlico Sound Sea Trout Shallows

Pamlico Sound near the Outer Banks' shores is shallow and wadeable, but beware of crabs and sting rays. A ray more than two feet across nosed right in front of me, and I was ready to brandish my rod against it. I came with only my medium power St. Croix, a Rapala number 9 floater, my camera, and the first hand knowledge that sea trout, relative to the weakfish we catch in New Jersey, frequent the edges on calm sunsets. I witnessed an angler catch one after another feeding on schools of baitfish--not big specks but fine on light tackle--near Rodanthe on a return trip back to New Jersey a few years ago.

I encountered some baitfish but no gamefish. A few small something--or-others swiped at my Rapala at the surface, but I suppose they were lizard fish about six or seven-inches long. Found the hermit crab--photographed his mobile home. Got my left big toe pinched by another crab.

I had found a turn-off from Route 12, Ocracoke Island--most of this island is wild--to a trail that only allows 4 wheel drive by permit. I walked the half mile or more and the bugs weren't bad at all. The solitude felt exquisite. Anyone worth such experience should go for it.

 Pamlico shallows are grassy in large patches.
 Pamlico sunset all to myself. Duck blind on the horizon.
That hermit crab's hide-out.

Outer Banks Pier Fishing for King Mackerel and Otherwise

"There hasn't been a king caught all summer," the proprietor at Avon Pier told me as I paid admission.

And the likelihood of any being caught today reduced by dense water clarity, nor would Spanish mackerel show, but perhaps bluefish. A week ago, a sailfish got caught off the end of the pier. I've never heard of such a thing any summer, although king mackerel used to be frequent.

"Fishing's been slow all year," one of the two other guys trying for kings told us later. Not only for kings, for everything. I've never fished a slower day on the piers, besides once in November, but at least I had witnessed a 16-pound blue. One of the other guys caught a blacktip shark of about 28 inches on the trolley rig, something got one of our live spots set out on the water surface to splash like the goat left out for T-Rex in Jurassic Park.

"Blacktips will just come up and chew the bait off," the guy said. We caught some other spot, a croaker, a small blue, loads of blueclaw crabs, I lost something nice (not a ray), and caught some mullet or what we call kingfish in New Jersey.

Nevertheless, the piers have never let me down. I think Matt got a little bored with it and we left after seven hours, but that's how teens are. I bet I would have got a little bored too in my teens with fishing that slow. As it was for me today, I relished sitting there for hours doing nothing but easily tending my hi/low rig as I watched my baits swim not far in the distance.

However the spot got off, I had it hooked well on the rig and the clip in order, just wasn't watching at the time whatever took.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Portsmouth Island Boat Tour Good for Flounder & other Gamefish

Some who take the Portsmouth Island tour boat from Ocracoke bring along fishing rods, and the news I have to share is that flounder and other gamefish species are available in the inlet from shore. The pinfish tore up my shrimp & squid at first. I put on a big piece of cut bait and caught my first flounder by casting a two ounce bank sinker, three-way swivel rig. When the tide shifted, the pinfish vanished, but I still managed to catch a drum of some variety, what we call a kingfish in NJ. Then the tide went out with a strong current through Wallace Channel--it virtually runs right along the shore--and I caught more flounder drifting that two-ounce sinker, baiting up with whole shrimp and squid heads.

We also did some swimming, beach walking, and shell collecting. Matt found a Scotch bonnet in perfect condition and an olive shell also without flaw. Four hours we allowed for plenty fishing and these other family activities besides. It did make me want to spend a lot more time out there. The vastness of the clouds gives you the sensation of almost being among them, as if the shore goes right to them and great distance is connected right where you stand. I could spend days on the beach with just a tent, some water, food, fishing rod, camera, and swim shorts, but from what I've heard, the mosquitos hit the beach at night during the summer months.

Portsmouth Island, Inlet immediately left.
Community Dock, Ocracoke

Brown Pelicans nearly became extinct, early 1970's, due to DDT pesticide.

We came upon this out in the middle of Ocracoke Inlet.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ocracoke Inlet Pompano and Bluefish Blitzes

A good incoming current this morning proved extremely productive, and the fairly high swells didn't matter, just made it all more exciting. We anchored near the mouth of Ocracoke Inlet and caught three pompano to start the outing. This took some patience, the first fish revealed after 45 minutes or so. From about 10 feet of water--some of the fish shallow on top of a shoal in casting reach--these are the largest pompano my son and I have seen, nearly two pounds each. We caught them all on sand fleas hooked on hi/lo rigs.

This is our third Ocracoke Inlet, N.C.,charter with Captain Ryan O'Neal, and each time he's shown us something different. He's never failed to put us on a lot of fish, but if we were to have a bad day, I would certainly forgive him that.

The pompano bite had been slow, but for us the few we caught impressive enough to have made a day. What awaited us I really couldn't have guessed. We headed on out the Inlet, my mood slow as the fishing had been. I really didn't expect anything, but Ryan told us we would cast for Spanish mackerel. For the moment, no evidence of fish reassured the sort of mood that just can't see beyond resignation, no matter how I try and scale the walls closing me off within. Something would simply have to tear them down.

So sure enough, fish broke water chopping silversides to shreds. Immediately, I knew the walls had been no more than a thin veil; however absolute the separation while it lasts, it lifts as easily as a stage curtain.

We hooked up instantly on chartreuse bucktails. Bluefish. And a Spanish mackerel my son lost at boatside. We motored off to more surface commotion and suddenly the sea immediately before us erupted as an exploding dance of thousands of blues and Spanish mackerel leaping through and churning the water. We hooked up instantly until the fish went down. For about two hours it was chase and find with how many schools of predators in the area unknown. The clear water revealed many dozens of blues in eyesight along with some Spanish chasing hooked fish.

This action as fulfilling as any dream of a motherlode for the taking, most of life seems pretty plain by comparison to having all you want at your fingertips.

The water clear blue, electrical pulses shot for bottom, reflecting sunlight like cherry bombs; light-weight rods throttled with drags giving way to these demons, these angels of light in a paradise of life let loose to do as it will. Mostly, we caught double headers with the jigs rigged tandem. There must have been a million bluefish. We took nearly 60, perfect size for the table.