Maybe, just maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn’t an oncoming train for local fishermen who have been eager to do some spring fishing along the Carolina coast.
At mid-week, the weather appeared to return to a semblance of normalcy after a pesky, long-lasting, cut-off low pressure finally pulled away from the Grand Strand.
Since the official onset of spring in late March, local fishermen had been plagued by relentless windy conditions, above normal rainfall and below normal air and water temperatures.
Capt. Englis Glover, operator of Tee To Sea Fishing and Guide Service and host of Reelin’ Up The Coast, a locally produced fishing show, does a little bit of everything on the fishing scene. He goes from inlet action for red drum, trout and flounder to offshore trolling for wahoo, dolphin, tuna and other big-game fish.
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This spring, the weather – specifically the wind – has made it difficult to do any type of fishing at all, but especially offshore trolling and bottom fishing. Canceled tournaments and charter trips have been the order of the day.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Glover said earlier this week. “This has definitely been terrible [for charter fishermen]. We’re all feeling the effects of it. I know some guys who do only offshore fishing and they have only been able to do two trips. It’s killed me as far as filming everything we’ve had planned [for Reelin’ Up The Coast].
“It’s tough to go out there when the wind’s blowing 25 to 30 mph. As many days as we had that northeast blow, it will take time for it to calm down.”
Despite the lack of fishing opportunities, the few windows of opportunity have revealed super spring fishing is ready to take off when conditions get right.
Boats that have been able to make it offshore have found good numbers of wahoo and blackfin tuna, plus a few early season billfish have been released. Catches of the staple offshore trolling species during the warm season – dolphin – are slowly on the increase. Boats out of Georgetown Landing Marina encountered very good numbers of dolphin on Wednesday.
Near-shore fishing has shown signs of breaking loose, with a pair of nice king mackerel caught despite bad weather conditions off the Apache Pier on May 1 and the arrival of Spanish mackerel.
And in the inlets, good catches of flounder, red drum and spotted seatrout have started to trickle in after the weather improved early in the week.
“Once it calms down we’ll start seeing some good catches,” said Glover. “We’re just hoping for a little better king mackerel bite in the inshore realm than we’ve had (in recent years). Seeing those two fish caught off the pier maybe it will go back to like it was in 2009 in the 15-20 mile range and on the reefs. We just need to get a little bit of stabilization in the weather - keep the barometric pressure from bouncing all around – and we’ll have full coolers and tight lines.”
Black Sea Bass
The black sea bass fishery is exceptionally important for fishermen in our area, including commercial fishermen, charter boat operators and even recreational anglers of the weekend-warrior variety.
The availability of black sea bass in the future will be shaped by a webinar meeting to be held by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council on Monday. The council will select which annual catch limit (ACL) to recommend for the species, which will determine how long the season lasts in upcoming years.
That meeting is designed to get the new ACL in place near the beginning of the upcoming 2013-14 fishing season which begins on June 1.
Council member Tom Swatzel of Murrells Inlet is on record stating that since the black sea bass stock is considered to be completely rebuilt, future increases in the ACL after the Monday decision, and thus longer seasons in the future, are unlikely.
Alternative 2 of the options the council is considering under Amendment 19 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan would allow the most pounds to be harvested over a three-year period, from 2013-15. The options can be viewed at www.SAFMC.net under the news section.
The written deadline for comments is today at 5 p.m. Comments can be sent to the council at SGRegAm19Comments@safmc.net. Anglers can also register to participate in the public hearing part of the webinar, which will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
Fishermen wishing to comment on the issue can also send e-mails to members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Council members’ e-mail addresses can be found on the council’s website under the About Us tab.
Far Out Shootout
This offshore event, which targets dolphin, wahoo and tuna, spans eight days and begins tomorrow out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center.
Boats can fish one of the eight days during the tournament. Captains Meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. at Carolina Wing Company in Shallotte, N.C.
Entry fee is $300 today and $350 before May 17. For more information call (910) 253-3474 or (910) 575-3474.