Posted by & filed under Articles.

Fishin’ the Fort (Macon), by Dr. Bogus

IMG_0660Ft. Macon State Park, on the far eastern end of Bogue Banks along Beaufort Inlet, became the North Carolina’s second state park in 1924, for the outrageous purchase price of one-dollar. Today the fort is one of North Carolina’s most popular, attracting over one million visitors a year, seeking out its long rich history, beautiful beaches and excellent seasonal fishing for the occasional weekender, out-of-state visitor or serious angler.

Recently while visiting the fort, I talked to Dick Cudworth, a frequent visitor and fisherman, who splits his time between Greensboro and Salter Path and asked him for a tour of the park’s fishing areas.

“First you start at the short jetty at the swimming beach,” said Cudworth, “it’s easy access from the parking area, and it’s a short walk to the beach.” “That short jetty has a good foundation of rocks, then there is open water from there to the big jetty (at the fort). One side (east) of the big jetty leads into the channel, which gives you a chance to fish in slowly moving waters to about 15-feet, then there is a drop-off, a drastic drop-off with quite fast moving water in the Beaufort Inlet all the way down to the Coast Guard Station,” explained Cudworth.

Like much of coastal North Carolina, fishing is year around activity, and that’s equally true for Ft. Macon as well.

“In the spring, just like the rest of the Crystal Coast,” explains Cudworth, “first is the bluefish run starting in April, and hopefully not too far from that is the Spanish, usually early May, and then the flounder.”

Like most of us, Cudworth will use live bait, mullet minnows, and artificials such as GotCha plugs or flashy metal spoons for the blues and Spanish.

For summer fare, Cudworth likes to target the flounder. Where?

“Around the rocks at the jetties,” said Cudworth, “either one of them seems to be an abundance of flounders, and this time of year, there’s reds in there too.” “Recently I’ve caught nice flounder, 16 to 24-inches from around the big jetty down to the Coast Guard Station.”

Cudworth is usually a traditionalist, using a Carolina rig and live finger mullet or live shrimp. “This time of year the mullet minnows seem to do a whole lot better,” says Cudworth, “there seems to be an abundance of pinfish, in the ocean and the live mullet minnows 3 to 4-inch seem to work the best, although I have used cut bait and had some success, and a lead-head jig with a white Gulp! 3 ½-inch shrimp. If it doesn’t seem like they want to hit one, you fish with the other, they seem to hit one or the other. One day it’s the minnows, the next it’s artificial, but my biggest citation fish have been on bait.”

As we get into the fall, speckled trout are the fish of the season along the Crystal Coast, and Ft. Macon is a traditional hot spot. When can you expect trout to usually show up? “About the middle of September,” said Cudworth, “and that’s a very productive time, actually all along the coast, but the Ft. Macon area has been really good on trout from the surf, and for some big ones too.”

Ft. Macon Rock JettyOf course the big rock jetty is the famed location for sharpies looking for fall specks, but it’s not for the faint hearted. “To me it’s a little, actually a lot, slippery, and dangerous,” said Cudworth shaking his head. “I don’t really enjoy myself there. Fishing along side of it is fine, but not so much fishing out on the jetty rocks…I just feel better with solid ground (or sand) under me. It’s for the younger guys, oh yah. Maybe in my younger days, it would have been a whole lot better. You could walk out on the jetty and look for speckled trout and flounder.” MirrOlures, lead-head jigs with soft plastics or Gulp! baits and live shrimp on a cork are the baits of choice for citation trout.

If it’s red drum you want, either jetty is a good choice, but for Cudworth prefers the small jetty at the swimming beach for legal size drum. “I have in the past, at the short jetty better success catching “slot” drum (18 to 27-inches)”, said Cudworth, “there again using the Gulp! bait on a lead-head.”

For tackle, Cudworth, like me, prefers the light variety. “I use a light and also a medium action rod, with open-face spinner reels,” said Cudworth, “I use 8 to 15-pound test line and fluorocarbon leaders. With the lighter weights, you’ll have a lot more fun, and I think you catch more fish that way too.”

Everyone has their favorite spots; driven by their desired catch, ease of access or just to enjoy a relaxing day.

Dave and JoEllen Labrosse have found fishing the fort both relaxing, productive and an easy day trip from their home in New Bern. They get down to Ft. Macon as often as they can and have done so for the last five or six years. Like Cudworth, they are not jetty jumpers either, but like to sit, relax and bottom fish.

IMG_0658“We use bottom rigs, with cut bait, shrimp and squid, said Dave Labrosse, “we just like to catch fish, bluefish and pompano, pinfish and spots. For bait we like fresh shrimp and sometimes we cut up squid in small pieces.”

Their tackle is simple but effective, a couple of nine-foot rods, 20-pound test line and one or two-hook bottom rigs.

Where do they like to fish? “We actually usually fish right in the same spot, right where this first cut through the dunes is, just west of the big jetty,” said Dave. “Once in a while we’ll go around to the sound side. But most of what you catch over there is sharks, mostly little sharks, 10, 12, 18-inch sharks, black tips, bonnet heads, a variety.”

But just west of the jetty they have caught some nice fish. “This spring, I caught a Hatteras blue that was 28-inches, that’s a nice fish” said Dave.

“Last summer I caught a 16-inch pompano here,” chimed in his wife, JoEllen, “it was beautiful, they pull real hard. I caught it on shrimp. We ate that one and it was good.”

Not all fisherman’s wives fish, but JoEllen has fished for many years. “I’ve always loved to fish; I’ve grown up fishing,” said JoEllen, “my dad taught me back in Indiana from the time I was little. It’s totally different than ocean fishing here, and it took me a little while to get used to fishing the ocean, with the waves, currents and everything. I was used to fresh water.”

What does she like to catch? “Anything, anything,” said JoEllen excitedly, “but I haven’t gotten anything today, it’s too rough and a lot of that red sea weed, it’s a mess.”

After talking with the Labrosses, I walked east past the big jetty and down along the Beaufort inlet area where I found a young couple Ryan Willett and his wife Heather Lawson from Havelock enjoying the day relaxing and fishing on the beach.

“The family and I come down here several times a summer,” said Willett, “today I’m using shrimp and looking for sea mullet, maybe some hogfish, small things for the fry pan.” “Usually I prefer the rock jetty, where you can find trout, some flounder around the bottom; the sea mullet seem to collect around there better too, but with the family it’s a shorter walk to hit the point,” explained Willett. “Out here on the point I mainly use shrimp, squid or GotCha plugs if I can find some blues or Spanish working.”

Willett also likes to fish the big jetty for speckled trout and flounder. “Personally I’ve gotten some trout in the 20, 21-inch range, one on a mullet, one on a GotCha. Those are good days,” said Willett, “and for flounder, I mostly use mud minnows or small finger mullet. Live bait is key for those.”

Willett’s wife Heather occasionally fishes the fort but prefers fishing the inside creeks for red drum and flounder, but loves to visit Ft. Macon. “It’s great here, you can enjoy the beach, fish and there are the free concerts too,” said Lawson.


Fort Macon State Park

Address: PO Box 127, 2300 East Fort Macon Road, Atlantic Beach, NC, NC 28512

Office Phone: (252) 726-3775

(252) 726-2295



Fort Macon State Park, Park Hours

Bathhouse Area:

November – February, 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

March, April, May, September and October 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

June – August, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Swimming Area:

10 a.m. – 5:45 p.m. Memorial Day until Labor Day, if staffing permits

Fort Area:

March, April, May, September and October 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

June – August, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Fort, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Closed Christmas Day

Park Office Hours

8 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Closed state holidays


Posted by & filed under Articles.

 Fall on the Fly, By Dr. Bogus

One of the things about the fall…you can fly fish here all year around, but fall fishing can be special. I recently talked to one of our local guides and fly fishing experts Capt. Dean Lamont of Crystal of Coast Adventures, about targeting fall species on the fly.

Of course the first thing that comes to mind are the false albacore. We all probably remember when former president George H.W. Bush would come down here and fish for false albacore, so why don’t we start off with the obvious, false albacore. It’s become a real big fall fishery here along the Crystal Coast.

“It definitely has,” said Lamont, “I have clients that come from all over the northeast, especially Ohio and Massachusetts. Most of the guides will start booking their trips around the middle of October to assure their clients that they will have a good day fishing and book trips at least into Thanksgiving or later.”

“This year we had a large group of albacore for Labor Day actually that were from Bogue Inlet to Cape Lookout,” explained Lamont.

Where else can you find the albies? “Normally, I fish out of Beaufort Inlet, so usually I go west down the beach towards Pine Knoll Shores,” said Lamont, “we’ll also look around the artificial reefs, AR-315 and AR-320 and then around the Beaufort Inlet, along Shackleford Banks out the Beaufort shipping channel, the Cape Lookout Bight, up around the gun mounts up to the (Lookout) shoals, and if it’s nice weather a lot of times, fishing on the east side of the shoals can be excellent too.”

The false albacore, normally range from five pounds up into the teens and are real burners, so what kind of gear do you need to tame a fat Albert?

“Most of us use a 9 or 10-weight rod,” said Lamont, “and a wide arbor reel with either intermediate or floating line, because the fish are normally up at the surface chasing bait. Occasionally if the fish aren’t presenting themselves on the surface, then we do have to go down deeper for them with a weighted line.”

“You also need a pretty substantial reel with a good drag,” explained Lamont “or they will just burn your drag up in a couple of fish, they pull just that hard.”

How about bait? Flies? “Most of the fish this time of year are feeding on bay anchovies and silversides…smaller baitfish,” said Lamont. “One of the flies that has been my go-to fly in the last few years is called the gummy minnow. It’s actually made out of a synthetic real pliable material, and if you put it in your hand next to a bay anchovy it looks identical. As far as other flies are concerned, Clousers, smaller Clousers, they have a color that’s called tutti-frutti, that’s chartreuse, white and pink, sometimes I put some purple in it. Anything where you have a stripe down the side to represent a silverside.”

How to you find the false albacore? “Normally what we see first is the birds flocked over the water diving down,” said Lamont. “I’ll approach the fish as slowly as I can, and figure out which way the wind is blowing, and which way the fish are moving. Unfortunately when we get into the prime season, and there are a lot of people and boats out there, we get a lot of people what we call “runnin’ and gunnin” which isn’t good. You really need to approach the fish very slowly, creep up and let the fish come to you, then hold on for the ride.”

Another species we target in the fall and in fact through the winter is the speckled trout. “I can remember a few days when you and I fished the Cape Lookout Rock Jetty,” reminisced Lamont “and what we do is we anchor up and normally use an 8-weight rod with a 300 or 400-grain sinking line, and you cast the line and the fly towards the rock jetty and let it sink all the way down to the bottom and strip it in very-very slowly. The speckled trout have a much more subtle bite that a false albacore who will kind of pull the rod right out of your hand.”

IMG_0164“As far as flies are concerned,” said Lamont, “I usually use a pink and white Clouser with a little flash in it can be really good.”

You mentioned the Cape Lookout Rock Jetty, but it can get pretty crowded out there, what are some other target locations for speckled trout. “Normally where there is structure,” said Lamont. “The speckled trout like to be around structure and shallow water, like the Shackleford Rock Jetty, the Ft. Macon Rock Jetty, down the channel going into Beaufort on the left hand side there’s a rock jetty there along Radio Island that runs all the way down along the bank there, any creek mouths, and places like that are very effective finding trout.”

Another species to target in the fall and again through the winter is the red drum, our state fish. “The red drum are more normally down along the bottom, said Lamont. “We have to cast in to the shallower water and let the fly sink down with something like a copperhead or Clouser. If a drum is there they will hit it, they are not really picky. And if your fly is near the bottom, you likely get a flounder to hit it too.

How about surface flies? “Yes, they work good for drum,” explained Lamont, “and I forgot to mention that for the albacore too, you can use a crease fly or a gurgler or something like that on top. That’s really a lot of fun, having them hit top water flies.”

Yes top water action is the ultimate experience, summer, fall winter or spring, but it’s fall now, so think albies, specks and reds.

Capt. Dean Lamont:

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Would a Pogy by Any other Name Smell as Sweet? By Dr. Bogus

Remember the Mason-Dixon Line dividing North from South? Philly cheese steak versus shrimp and grits, hot tea or iced sweet tea, blue and gray, Yankees and Braves, and then there are the animal weather prognosticators, Punxsutawney Phil and of course Raleigh’s own Sir Walter Wally leading us into an early spring or dooming us to six more weeks of winter.

As an angler, another difference you will notice immediately traveling from north to south or vice versa is the variation of common fish names, what I call misnomered regionalisms, i.e. names dependent on geography, like Hatteras blues, and boy can it lead to confusion. Different geography, different names, same old fish. Here are a few to orient us northerners to the southern fish names and vice versa.

First of all let’s start with our revered state fish, Sciaenops ocellatus, a.k.a., the red drum, redfish, channel bass, puppy drum, bull redfish, bass, sea bass, spotted bass, spot tail, red rat, pescado, colorado, and branded drum. As table fare of course we know it as blackened redfish, popularized by Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme, nearly leading the red fish, as it is known to our south, into extinction. Its name of drum comes from the drumming sounds produced by the males during courtship and often when caught as well. All the many members of the drum family drum, drum, drum, away. Seems proper that our state’s piscatorial choice is a fish of many names.

Another relative in the drum family is Cynoscion regalis. In the cold white north, this is a weakfish or weakie, due to its fragile mouth and not a downtrodden personality. The Indians used squeateague, but there are more, how ‘bout, just trout, or sea trout, squit, squetee, sheantts, chickwick, succoteague, drummers, saltwater trout, gray sea trout, sun trout, shad trout, yellow-finned trout, yellow-mouth trout and yes summer trout. Up north, citation sized ones are known as tide runners aaaaaaaaaand here in North Carolina of course just the plain old gray trout, the well known kissin’ cousin to the spotted sea trout or speckled trout.

The ocean’s pan fish, the spot, is yet another but most diminutive member of the drum family, also has many regional nomen, such as Norfolk spot, spot croaker or Lafayette, so named in 1824 after an extraordinary catch was somehow attributed to Lafayette’s trip to America. In the fall the run of large, hormone crazed, south migrating spot are also known as “yellow bellies”, with many weighing in at over a pound. Along the piers and inlets they are some of the most popularly targeted fish every year, filling coolers two-by-two.

Another pan fish with multiple names that does it justice is the sheepshead, named for its prominent incisor teeth, resembling a sheep’s teeth. Its prominent black vertical stripes have earned it the monikers convict fish, zebra fish and pajama fish, and are often confused with juvenile black drum. Our state record is just under 20-pounds and was landed at the Bonner Bridge at Oregon Inlet. A 20-pound pan fish?

Along the beaches of Maryland one popular visitor is the kingfish or whiting or king whiting, as you proceed south to the Commonwealth of Virginia, it’s the Virginia mullet, which is the same as the sea mullet we know and love here in the Old North State. And by the way, it is in no way related to finger mullet or jumping (a.k.a., hard-head, striped or Popeye) mullet either. By the way, it’s the only silent member of the drum family!

A North Carolina favorite, immortalized in print, paint and pictures for their historic late season blitzes along the Outer Banks is old linesides, the Morone saxatilis (formally Roccus saxatilis). In the Chesapeake it’s the rockfish, here just striper (not stripper) or striped bass, but also has more archaic names as squid hound and greenhead. This is a noble fish with a mystique that many have chased from Maine to North Carolina. Recent regulatory rebound is returning this species to its legendary stature both along our beaches and in our rivers too.

Now, how about Euthynnus Alletteratus or false albacore, that lesser cousin of the tuna, which we should not get confused with the Atlantic bonito or “real” albacore for that matter. These feisty fish provide fast action in the fall as we hook and try to hold onto one of these footballs with a tail, affectionately called fat Alberts and often little tunny. By the way who would every want to go through life as “false” anything, almost as bad as “bogus”! Right?

Now the blowfish is another story. Like Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect, they go by such unappetizing names as blow toads, swell fish, and puffers, but the notion that these delectable critters also more delicately known as sea squab or chicken of the sea are poisonous is wrong. Sure, their kissing oriental cousins have a history of death and destruction for those who dare this culinary “rush”. Puffers are of the family Tetradontidae includes many species like the Japanese torafugu that are notably toxic, but NOT our NORTHERN PUFFER. The northern puffer variety of these inflatable fish actually do taste and look remarkably like chicken and are nicely and safely prepared by gently sautéing them in lemon butter. Yum!

Speaking of lemon, how about the lemon fish, ling, crab eater, flathead, black kingfish, cabio or sergeant fish. Some think it’s shark like or even catfish looking, we know it as the cobia. They spawn in inside our waters in May and June and talk about good eats…!

One fish providing major a misunderstanding is the dolphin, please, NOT to be confused with the mammal dolphin and the beloved TV star, Flipper. To minimize this confusion we use dolphin-fish, the Hawaiian mahi-mahi, or the Spanish Dorado. No we don’t eat Flipper. These brilliantly iridescent blue and yellow fish are known for their crazed “life in the fast lane” behavior in the Gulf Stream, their amazing leaping ability and yes, their great taste.

One fish that continually baffles us migratory northerners and resident southerners alike is the flounder, specifically the summer flounder whose range is all the way from New England to North Carolina. To northerners, any flounder with teeth is a fluke, but to the native Carolinian it’s just a flounder. So if someone asks you “how’s the fluke bitin’ this year”, you’ll know their geography is somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

IMG_2762Finally there’s the poor pogie, not to be confused with the lowly porgy. A porgy of course is a tasty bottom dwelling pan fish whereas pogies, or what Northerners call menhaden, mossbunkers or just bunkers, you Southerners…pogies. Menhaden are the oily filter feeders, fast forage food for blues, stripers, red fish, and king mackerel and yes porpoises (i.e. Flipper) too. They travel in massive schools, swim in doughnut-like circles, and are harvested commercially in vast numbers. So the next time you are down wind from the Beaufort, NC rendering plant, think bunker, menhaden and of course POGY. But if you stick your nose to the air and take a whiff, you probably won’t think rose.

Photos and pictures of many of the fish described here can be found in the Fish Identifier of this web site,

NOTE: Since I wrote this article, the Wheatly rendering plant, Beaufort Fisheries, closed its doors (2006) and the rendering factory torn down and the not so rosy aromas of rendered pogies are a now thing of the past.



Frank J. Schwartz, Common Marine Fishes of North Carolina, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina, Morehead City, 1992.

Peter Meyer, Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast, Avian-Cetacean Press, Wilmington, NC, 2000.

Joe Malat, Pier Fishing, Wellspring Press, York, PA, 1999

Ken Schultz, Ken Schultz’s Fishing Encyclopedia, IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. New York, NY, 2000.

Marine and Coastal Species Information System (Virginia Tech)

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary

FishBase (28100 Species, 78300 Synonyms , 152900 Common names,

35300 Pictures, 31200 References)

Biosis, Guide to the Animal Kingdom for Students and Educators

National Biological Information and Infrastructure



Posted by & filed under Fishing, Reports category.

Dr. Bogus’ “MULLET BLOW!” mini-Fishing Report for 8/31/13. Surf 80°, sound 81°.


Every Monday Morning at 7:30 am on 107.1 FM (WTKF), 1240 AM (WJNC). If you can’t listen on the radio, you can log in to and listen on-line or check out Coastal Daybreak on Facebook. The show will be linked there as an mp3 file. Now rebroadcast on each Sunday morning at 6:00am.

Now is the time to get a birthday or gift subscription for a fellow fisherman or spouse for fishing lessons (surf, pier or Bogue Sound) or the “Totally Bogus Fishing Report”. How about a Dr. Bogus hat? Gift Certificates are available. Don’t spend another year in the fish market, make this YOUR season to catch the big ones, just like me

SPONSORs OF THE WEEK: These are VIP sponsors of Dr. Bogus and so please support them this season, Crystal Coast Adventures, Cape Custom Rods, Coastal Marine & Sports, Reel Outdoors Bait & Tackle and Village Market, Emerald Isle Realty, Cape Crusader Charters. Check the Sponsor’s section of for details and contact information, and please tell ‘em Dr. Bogus sent you!

Question, what do ripening sea oats, sulfur butterflies, rapidly dwindling hours of daylight, plunging ocean and sound water temperatures, on the heels of brisk northeast winds mean to you? How about “MULLET BLOW” and the official start of the fall fishing season! For over a week the mullets, striped and finger alike have been leaking and sneaking from our sounds and out our inlets into the ocean surf in small scout groups. However over the weekend, on the force of a strong Canadian cold front and brisk northeast winds, the scouting and leaking turned into a massive escape. What a scene there was on Sunday morning, mullet large and small filling and riding the ocean waves east to west down the beach getting ready for their winter spawning activities.

Last year’s inaugural mullet blow incidentally was also on August 25th, and was very strong like the “old days”. Typically the initial mullet blow has occurred by the end August and over the last 15-years ranged from August 24th to September with ocean water temperatures along the beach around 81-degrees. With the forecast of cool northeast to persist for a while, and the numbers of mullet we have observed in the backwaters, another good mullet run should be expected this year as well.

Where can you find the king mackerel? How is the surf fishing…bottom fish? What about Old Drum fishing in the Neuse? There has been a good summer speck bite, but where are they? Any wahoo action? Need an update on Bogue Banks or Topsail piers? I got it! How about a surf fishing update? Where have I been catching slot drum? Mullet Blow? What’s that? For this and much more, you can subscribe to the full “Totally Bogus Fishing Report” for less than 7-cents/day, still only $25/year. It’s getting close to summer fishing season, so there’s no reason for YOU to miss out! Just send a check for $25 and your e-mail address to:

Dr. Bogus
P.O. Box 5225
Emerald Isle, NC 28594


The Ask Dr. Bogus Fishing show, heard every Monday morning at 7:30 on WTKF, 107.1 FM and 1240 AM can now be accessed on the Coastal Daybreak Facebook page. Sign up and be a friend at:, and never miss a show. And now WTKF daily programming, including the Ask Dr. Bogus radio show is available in live streaming audio too. Just go to and click on the arrow. Just click to listen, it’s just that easy!

Bogus Notes: 1) Check me out at 2) Log onto my web site at 3) “Ask Dr. Bogus” is on the radio every Monday 7:30 AM, WTKF 107.1 FM 1240 AM. Call in and Ask Dr. Bogus, 800.818.2255. 3) I’m located at 118 Conch Ct. in “Sea Dunes”, just off Coast Guard Rd., Emerald Isle, NC 28594. Mailing address is P.O. Box 5225, Emerald Isle, NC 28594. Don’t forget a gift certificate for your favorite angler for fishing lessons or my totally Bogus Fishing Report subscription. Please stop by at anytime and say “Hi” (252.354.4905).

Posted by & filed under Fishing, Fishing Lessons.

What we offer:
*Individualized Fishing Lessons (target trout, drum, flounder, Spanish, blues and more) newbie to expert, families, adults and kids.
*I use a straight forward approach to local fishing from the view of a scientist,
I think fish! I will teach you to target the fish YOU want.

What we do:
*2-hr. sit down instruction, followed by a 3 to 4-hr. fishing experience in…
*Bogue Sound, especially western Bogue with YOUR boat (tired of running aground?)
*Flounder, drum or trout fishing lessons in Bogue Sound.
*Kayak trips and lessons in the back waters.
*Pier fishing (pier zones from surf to end of the pier).
*Surf (reading the beach, birds, locations, artificial and live bait techniques, beach trolling etc.). Fishing lessons targeting flounder, drum, speckled trout and more.

Cost is still only $119 for the angler plus a spouse, a family member or a friend. Additional cost for more than 2 persons.Children welcome.

Also available:
Subscription weekly newsletter (I fish every day 24/7/12). Cost is still $25,
published and delivered to your e-mail address every Thursday.
Gift certificates for, subscription and fishing lessons available (Father’s Day, birthdays).

Go to “Contact Us” or call 252.354.4905 or email me at

Posted by & filed under Articles.

Yakin’ for Kings Dr. Bogus

Several years ago, lured by the mantra of “going where no flats boats dare to go,” my wife, Louise, and I purchased our first kayaks. These were really first generation of actual kayaks made specifically for fishing. They had rod holders and an anchor line and cleats but that was about all…fishing kayaks. In just a few years since then, fishing kayaks have gone from do-it-yourself to generation-one fishing kayaks to high end fishing machines. Or as Capt. Jerry Dilsaver commented, “the fishing kayaks have really come into their own in the last five-years, and in the last three years the manufacturers have really listened,” said Dilsaver, “they have called up fishermen and said ‘what do we need, how are we going to do this?’ And so fishing kayaks have really come a long way.”

Capt. Dilsaver, tournament fisherman, freelance writer and guide in his own right, has taken to kayak fishing like a finfish to water. As with most of us he started by fishing the interior shallow marshes and sounds and bays, but as a long time king mackerel fisherman, it wasn’t to long before Jerry dragged his kayak across the barrier islands to the ocean side in search of bigger prey, smokin’ king mackerel.

“I fish a Hobie Pro Angler,” explained Dilsaver, “it’s the big boy of all kayaks. It is wider, not necessarily longer but has more storage. It’s 13-ft. 8-in. long, but what makes it so incredible is that it’s 38-inches wide, it’s rock solid! It is in my opinion, the kayak to be on in the ocean. You might fall out of it but you’re really going to have to do something foolish to turn it over.”

Overturning a kayak can happen at any time, in an instant, but an ocean launch and a dry return in unpredictable surf can be high-risk maneuvers. So how is it done? Dilsaver, also a surfer from “back when” explained it to me.

“The waves tend to come in sets,” said Dilsaver, “they’ll typically be three to five, and then there will be smaller waves for a period of time, before another set will come in. What you do on the way out is you watch for a few minutes…you don’t get down there and get so excited you just chunk the boat in the ocean and jump in and try to paddle out. You watch, you get a feeling for how long those lulls are (between the sets) and you ease out to about knee deep water, let a set roll under you, already have broken, and at that point you jump in the kayak and paddle for the horizon with nothing else in mind, and try to get out before the next set comes. Now going out straight is the way to go. If you get the least bit turned, when that wave picks you up if you get caught in one it really gives you some balance challenges. So straight is the way to go on the way out. When you come back in, you stop just outside of that surf zone or impact zone, and do the same thing again.”

Of course there is always the chance you will go over, and Jerry has a simple philosophy on this. If you need to have it when you get back you need to somehow tie it on, and if it has to be dry, then it needs to be in a dry bag. Think tethers and leashes, there are commercial products, but most of us can do with bungee cords to meet our needs.

Capt. Dilsaver is a longtime boat king-mackerel fisherman and uses the same rigs rods and reels he did while motorboat bound. A seven-foot light-action-tip rod, conventional reels that will hold 400-yards of 20-pound test mono-line and a five to six-foot wire leader. The basic rig is two treble hook live bait rig.

For baiting up, Dilsaver sometimes uses menhaden (bunker) but prefers menhaden-size bluefish. In his experience, while nearshore fishing for kings on a kayak, the king mackerel seem to prefer live bluefish baits to menhaden. And the methodology is simple; Capt. Dilsaver usually sets out two rods, one for the surface and a second line weighted to fish about six feet down, and trolls or slowly drifts waiting for a screaming hook-up.

So eventually you’ve found a king mackerel, and he’s eaten your bluefish, then what? “The first thing you do is yell and scream,” screamed Dilsaver, “because you are getting ready to go on a sleigh ride.” “You lean back, take the weight off the bow of the kayak so it will pivot and turn easy and go after the fish and you really just hold on for the first little bit. He makes that run, he calms down, you are really reeling yourself to him instead of him to you. He’s got more purchase in the water than you do in the kayak. Even with a big teenager king, it’s a 300 to 400-yard ride. They’ll get half of that in their first run, then when this big shape comes up to them, they’ll go again and the second run will be 50 to 100-yards and then the little stuff on down until they gradually start wearing out. There is definitely sort of a feeling of hopelessness as this fish takes off and is ssssmoking it,” exclaimed Dilsaver.

When the fish is exhausted, Jerry uses a two-ft. gaff, with the hook bent slightly outward, and the fish is struck, in the middle of the back under the second dorsal fin and quickly placed in the fish box. Yet another nice feature of his Hobie kayak.

Of course kings aren’t the only fish in the ocean, there are plenty of by-catch possibilities with live bait. Spanish mackerel, big bluefish, and of course sharks. “We’re going to see some sandbar sharks, blacktips are especially fun,” said Dilsaver, “they will give you at least one jump.” “It is one of those things that if your adrenalin does not spike and your pulse rate and breathing don’t go through the roof when that happens, you probably need to pull out your cell phone and dial 911 because you are in need of medical help and just haven’t realized it yet!”

Ocean fishing can be treacherous at times, so Capt. Dilsaver stresses safety above everything else. The first thing is you PFD. Dilsaver likes the light weight inflatable ones, especially on hot summer days, but remember, they do any good if you don’t wear it! Being seen in a kayak in the ocean is a major consideration; even a two-ft. swell can hide your kayak from other boats, so Dilsaver recommends a bright orange VISIPole flag by YakAttack for visibility. Capt. Dilsaver also has a fish-finder with a GPS feature. It will help you get to your fishing destination and as Dilsaver put it, “if you should need, it gives you bread crumbs to get back.”

Finally, Capt. Dilsaver strongly recommends the buddy system when you go out, but sometimes that’s not possible, but filing a “float plan” is always possible. Let somebody responsible, a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, aunt, uncle, neighbor, whatever, know where you are leaving from, where you are going to fish and when you expect to return. And make sure they know when you return and cancel the float plan at that point.

“I’m an old man, I don’t text well,” admitted Dilsaver, but if I go by myself you can bet as soon as I‘ve got things under control, and out of the water, I text my wife with just a little “IR back”. That’s all it’s got to be.”

Hopefully “IR back” and with fish in the cooler!

Capt. Jerry Dilsaver is a freelance writer, national king mackerel champion, and avid kayak fisherman from Oak Island, NC,


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Back to the future: A case for the new high tech low stretch fishing lines.

By Dr. Bogus 

Remember the good old days with Dacron polyester by DuPont?  “Better living through chemistry.” Right? Dacron kites, boat sails, rope and remember braided Dacron fishing line?  Yes they still make braided Dacron fishing line and all the rest, but now the tackle shops’ shelves are filled with a host of high tech fibers that make up a contemporary list of no stretch or low stretch fishing lines.  Exotic names like Spiderwire, Fireline, PowerPro and such. What do they do?  Are they better than “mono”? Are they worth the added co$t?  Good fishy questions.PowerPro

All I have to say is, “try it, you’ll like it!!” So what DO they do?  Fishing is a tactile sport. You cast, you feel, you jerk, you reel, you hopefully catch. Reacting appropriately to touchy, feely cues is an important part of successful fish catching.  The more information (tactile input) you have the more fish you will catch.  These low stretch lines in fact, are what they advertise.  Did you ever feel a fish on the end of your line, and wonder just what he is doing?  Ok, so with spot or blow toads or bluefish this is not so critical. They pull, you pull back and viola you have a fish, but how about that finicky pounder flounder or the subtle speckled trout.

Conventional monofilament is like a rubber band, your baited weighted line is stretched with your line in the water, and when you pull it stretches more before it responds with a hook set. It also stretches when the fish bites or strikes.  Monofilament stretch can be as much as 25%, that’s 25-feet for each 100-feet of line. Low stretch lines, many of which are braided from gel-spun polyethylene strands, have virtually no line stretch when stressed.  This means that you get what you feel and you feel it NOW.  How would you like to feel the heartbeat of a Rat-L-Trap lure, a flounder scraping the scales off your captured finger mullet (it’s a myth though) or that mysterious nearly imperceptible bump of a citation speckled trout as he grasps your 17-MR MirrOlure, your Vudu Shrimp or Halo Shad. This is the information age you know.  Braided and linear non-stretch lines can provide you with more information and more fish as well.  You feel faster, you set the hook faster, you catch more fish.  The other big plus is their strength.  These lines are very thin, very strong and very tough high tech fibers.  You often see designations of line strength, versus the strength of mono line of similar diameter.  For example, the PowerPro braided line I’m currently using for my trout fishing is rated as 10/2.  This is a 10 lb. test line with the diameter equivalent of 2 lb. test monofilament line.  Very thin, very strong and very tough around abrasive structures.

Sensitivity is one advantage, but there are others too. With smaller diameter lines, you get more line capacity on your reel, you get better casting distance and if you are trolling there is less water resistance and therefore less weight to get your line to a bite zone. Since we are now officially in winter, braided lines have little or no line memory even on cold frosty mornings; the “slinky” coil effect (remember the slinky toy?) you get with mono lines is virtually nonexistent with the braided lines.

With all these positives, what are the downsides of braided line? Braids are slippery critters and you must be careful in tying knots. I always use a fluorocarbon leader tied directly to my braided line. Albright or reverse Albright will do the trick, many also use uni- to uni- knots for this function, I prefer a four-turn surgeon’s knot it’s quick and easy. Cutting and trimming the line is often difficult, although there are good tools to do this these days. Also, after I cut off the excess braid, I use a cigarette lighter or charcoal lighter to melt the end. It creates a bead and prevents the braid from fraying.

Another problem with the thinness of the line, which at times can slip through split rings, “eyes” on lures, snaps and other small gaps. The thinness of the line also can create a cutting hazard that will cut through fingers if you pull hard and cut through mono fishing lines as well.

tangled_braid2One of the main complaints you get from users and most “former” users is the so-called wind knots, especially with the lighter pound-test braided lines. These will create a tangle that is almost un fixable and may cost you $20 or more worth of line. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the so-called wind knots are actually the angler’s effort to blame Mother Nature for their own “operator error” and if you follow a few tips on the care and feeding and use of braided line, they can virtually be eliminated.

So here are some tips for braided line users for the elimination of the dreaded “wind knots”.

It’s never good to overfill your spools regardless of the line you use, and it’s even more important with braided line, so under fill your spool to minimize snarls from loose line/coils, this works for mono too.

Next, I always close the bail manually to minimize loose coils and manually tug on and place line in bail roller, then raise rod tip to tighten line and remove any loops. Look for loose coils that may have wrapped around the top of your spool. You can also and cast and rewind the line periodically through finger tips to tighten the line.

If (i.e. when) a loop gets caught under the line, do not open the bail and pull the line off of the top of the spool, and definitely don’t or cast it! Each time your line comes off the spool over a loop it wraps around the offending loop creating the so called wind knot. Instead, loosen the drag and pull the braided line through roller with the bail down, not flipped up.

If you forget to follow the above tips, or are a braid novice, remember, heavier pound-test braid, like 20-pound test will tangle less than lighter-pound test.  If you follow the same tips for standard monofilament line as well, you also will eliminate most mono tangles not caused by line twist. I also use the Fuji guide design and micro guides on all my rods with braided line, which also helps minimize looping of the line around your rod guides.

Finally here are a few other tips for the braided line user. First, be careful to no overmatch your rod with a much higher strength line than it’s rated for, you may risk breaking your rod. Since there is little or no stretch, use gentler hook-set like a gentle sweep or wrist snap. Don’t try to set hook and land fish in one motion!! In the same vein, lighten up on the drag to compensate for the lack of stretch. Lastly, if you get hung-up on an obstruction, grab your reel spool and put pressure on the line from the spool to and pull straight back until you pull free or break off the line, NOT your rod, which you may break or worst, your hands where you risk a departed finger or minimally a nasty cut.

These suggestions should eliminate 95% of the knotting; the other 5% are usually caused by not following the above tips!

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Effects of Coastal Storms on North Carolina Fishing

Here in eastern North Carolina we are “blessed” with hurricanes, Nor’easters and the like. We all remember the “storm of the century” back in March of 1993, and most recently the massive late season hurricane Sandy. I frequently get asked what impact these storms have on our fishing.

The physical effects of these storms include wind creating rough churned up seas, and rain producing dirty water and lowering the salinity of the water, creating a mixture of chemicals, natural and not in the subsequent runoff and flattening many of the holes and bars we like to fish along the Bogue Banks surf.

With Sandy, we had an extraordinarily large cyclone creating large long period swells, a storm surge of many feet around the full moon, and unlike many early season tropical storms, Sandy has also been associated with a dramatic cooling of our unusually warm air and water temperatures. Even while we were still feeling the effects of Sandy, air temperatures dropped into the 50s and lower, surf temperatures measured at Bogue Pier has already dropped to 67-degrees from 73-degrees and Bogue Sound dropped from 72-degrees to a season low of 60-degrees in just a few days.

The turbulence associated dirty water and runoff quickly scattered the mobile fish and shrimp baits, important in attracting and holding the fish, to deeper water along with the fish that feed on them. As such storms approach us, just prior to the actual maladies to be inflicted by the storm, often the fishing picks up. I remember having one of my best above slot red drum fishing the day immediately prior to hurricane Isabel in September of 2003, which subsequently moved up the coast with devastating effects and even creating “Isabel Inlet” to our north on the Outer Banks.

After major events like Isabel and now Sandy, recovery of the beaches and water quality can be slow. In the aftermath of such storms, we normally get a northeast wind from a cold front that, unlike the northeast winds associated with a coastal cyclone, calms the waters allowing the sediment to settle out leading to the iconic clean and green waters of the Crystal Coast again. As the seas calm and clean, the baitfish come back along with the predators, fishing returns to normal.

I know people often say there is also an effect of the low air pressures associated with these storms, however there is no scientific evidence for this. Think about it, sea water is 1000-times more dense than air, and fish routinely move up and down in the vertical water column, which results in larger pressure changes than a slight change in air pressure.

Last year with Sandy, because of its size and unusual storm track, the associated winds impacted us for the better part of a week. Then the progressing cold front behind it settled in and further cool our waters, even producing some frost inland. However, this should have the effect of instilling a more seasonal sense of urgency recently lacking in our local fall fish and fisheries. Hopefully bait and fish held up in the sounds and rivers will move more aggressively out of the internal waters to the surf and suds. Here I’m not only talking the predatory speckled trout, drum and flounder but even the lowly spots. I am hopeful that this year the peak of the speckled trout season will be back to the time around Thanksgiving, which is more usual than some of the past recent years where the bite has been a month earlier. I would also guess the trout should soon be thick at the Lookout Rock Jetty, and I also hope the Bogue Banks, Shackleford and Cape Lookout surf.