Posted by & filed under Articles.

Dance of the mullets: jumpingmulletFish jump. Some jump for food, like the explosive sky shots of the king mackerel as he hits a bait and some like the tarpon for survival in their attempts to escape captivity when hooked. Mullet jump. Theories include predator escape, parasite removal, spawning behavior, aid to respiration and so on. My theory borders on the cultural and artistic; the dance of the mullets. On a morning early, with the idle chatter of mother nature unusually prominent, the creek was filled with the pirouettes of hundreds of mullets leaping. Their splashing return of silver droplets framed by the sun and with apt musical accompaniment of the high pitch of swallows on violin, kingfisher on piccolo, ducks and herons playing double reeds of the bassoon and oboe respectively and of course the woodpeckers-clearly percussion. Mulletcracker Suite, Mullet Lake or Dance of the Mullets!! Fish Jump.

Click on jumping mullet image to enlarge.

Photo compliments of David Sobotta of CrystalCoastLife.com

 

Posted by & filed under Fishing, Fishing News.

Division of Marine Fisheries receives sea turtle permit for gill net fisheries

MOREHEAD CITY (9/11/13) – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries today signed an agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service that implements a statewide incidental take permit for sea turtles in the estuarine large and small mesh gill net fisheries.

The permit authorizes the limited take of sea turtles in these fisheries and will allow the state to reopen some waters to gill net fishing that have been closed since July.

“This is the result of a lot of hard work by dedicated division staff,” said Louis Daniel, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries. “The flounder gill net fishery is an important economic factor in Eastern North Carolina, and this permit will allow it to continue on a limited basis while protecting threatened and endangered sea turtles.”

The division is considering when to reopen different waters based on the presence of sea turtles, because the number of allowed takes in some areas is low, Daniel said.

“A lot of these waters are going to close with one interaction,” Daniel said.

Also, the number of allowed takes for each area is for the entire period of Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 each year, so if an area must close, it closes the entire year.

The permit carries the same restrictions on soak times and gear requirements and requirement for observer coverage as was previously implemented through a lawsuit settlement agreement between the state and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

In addition, the area previously known as the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area now falls under the same soak times, gear requirements and observer requirements as other areas.

Daniel stressed the importance of fishermen complying with these regulations, including allowing observer coverage.

“If we do not meet the required percentage of observer coverage, the National Marine Fisheries Service can revoke this permit, which would close the fishery,” Daniel said.

Another new requirement is that all commercial and recreational fishermen must report any incidental capture of a sea turtle to the division at 252-726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632. This includes all gears.

“If you hook one as a recreational fisherman, you need to call it in,” Daniel said.

The permit and implementing agreement can be found on the division website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/ under Hot Topics.

For more information, contact the division’s Protected Resources Section Chief Chris Batsavage at 252-808-8009 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov.

Posted by & filed under Fishing, Reports category.

Surf at Bogue Pier (blue) ranged from 76 to 84 and averaged 79.5 for the month. Bogue Sound (red) ranged from 74 to 87 and averaged 81.1 for the month.

 

      Date Surf Sound
8/1/2013 82 83
8/2/2013 82 83
8/3/2013 81 83
8/4/2013 77 85
8/5/2013 78 82
8/6/2013 79 82
8/7/2013 81 84
8/8/2013 83 85
8/9/2013 84 87
8/10/2013 82 85
8/11/2013 80 84
8/12/2013 79 86
8/13/2013 79 87
8/14/2013 79 83
8/15/2013 77 77
8/16/2013 76 75
8/17/2013 76 74
8/18/2013 79 82
8/19/2013 79 82
8/20/2013 79 82
8/21/2013 80 84
8/22/2013 82 85
8/23/2013 80 84
8/24/2013 78 81
8/25/2013 77 76
8/26/2013 78 76
8/27/2013 79 79
8/28/2013 79 78
8/29/2013 80 81
8/30/2013 78 79
8/31/2013 80 83

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Fishing, Reports category.

Dr. Bogus’ “Anchovy BLOW!” Fishing Report for 9/7/13. Surf 81°, sound 83°.

Every Monday Morning at 7:30 am on www.TheTalkStation.com. 107.1 FM (WTKF), 1240 AM (WJNC). If you can’t listen on the radio, you can log in to www.TheTalkStation.com 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 www.ncoif.com 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 www.ncoif.com for details and contact information, and please tell ‘em Dr. Bogus sent you!

After the last cold front and following northeast winds we had our first mullet blow of the season sending mullets big and small out into the ocean in uncountable numbers. A week later, on a calm, hot buggy Saturday morning, after a northeast wind the previous day, the bay anchovies followed suit. At the point area in Emerald Isle, the water was black with the anchovies sometimes from the beach out to 100 or 200-yards. It was an awesome sight. Bait has brought in the fish and birds. Over the weekend we were catching blues, Spanish mackerel, jacks and ladyfish feasting on the anchovies and other small baits, along with their feathered friends, the gulls, terns, skimmers and pelicans. Very exciting and even though it was hot and humid it still gave the feeling and look of fall. From other reports, this was the norm from Cape Lookout to Bogue Banks.

How did I do in my kayak this week? What are the biggest sheepshead being caught on? What about Old Drum fishing in the Neuse? There has been a good summer speck bite, but where are they? Where are the wahoo, and what’s the key water temp? 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? Any kings on Bogue Banks or Topsail piers this week? 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: https://www.facebook.com/coastal.daybreak, 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 www.thetalkstation.com and click on the arrow to listen, it’s just that easy! In addition there is an encore edition of Monday’s show rebroadcast on Sunday mornings at 6:00.

Bogus Notes: 1) Check me out at www.Facebook.com/Dr.Bogus. 2) Log onto my web site at www.ncoif.com. 3)And  www.drbogus.com .  4) “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 any time and say “Hi” (252.354.4905).

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Fishing, Reports category.

I got an interesting call from Lee Manning (Nancy Lee Fishing Center) yesterday about bonefish in the White Oak River. Lee lives along the WOR.  A friend of his saw fish busting from his dock and cast into the fish, hooked and lost 7 or so and finally landed a 20-inch fish that was IDed posthumously as a bonefish. I have seen them caught on Bogue Pier and from the surf on rare occasions, usually on a bottom rig with shrimp bait but never heard of them in the inside waters. I have also heard of snook in Pamlico Sound, but very rarely. A number of years ago I called an NCDMF biologist and her said that they apparently come in from the Gulf Stream but for some reason they were quite  a bit farther north than their expectations. Interesting find Lee, thanks.

These fish were supposed to be busting the surface, which is very unlike bonefish. Could these be ladyfish? I need to see a photo.

Posted by & filed under Fishing News.

Marine Fisheries Commission takes action on several issues (nr 40-13)

 

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission took action last week on several issues impacting commercial and recreational fishermen, including votes on two petitions for rulemaking.

The commission voted to:

  • Deny a petition for rulemaking that proposed reclassifying most internal coastal waters as secondary nursery areas. The effect of the proposed rule would have been to halt shrimp and crab trawling in North Carolina inshore waters.  The petitioner has the right to seek judicial review of the decision.
  • Approve a petition for rulemaking that sought to prohibit the use of commercial fishing gear and certain types of recreational fishing gear on and around the Oriental Artificial Reef in the Neuse River. The decision begins a rulemaking process that will include fiscal analysis, notice of text in the state register, a public comment period and at least one public hearing. If approved, a final rule would not become effective until the spring of 2015.
  • Instruct the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ director to implement recommendations from a Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Team, endorsed by the National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office, that prohibit setting small mesh gill nets within 100 yards of the beach at any tide. Two areas are to be exempted from the regulation: Cape Lookout to Bogue Inlet and from Carolina Beach Inlet to the South Carolina line. Strike nets also are to be exempted from the restriction.
  • Keep the current recreational and commercial size and possession limits for spotted seatrout pending a scheduled review of the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan. The plan, adopted in February 2012, included a provision for implementing stricter regulations in February 2014, if needed, to reduce the daily recreational bag limit to three fish per person, implement a Dec. 15-Jan. 31 recreational closure, reduce the commercial trip limit to 25 fish and eliminate commercial closures.
  • Send a proposal for a Jan. 1, 2013 moratorium on commercial and recreational harvest of American and hickory shad to the Finfish and regional advisory committees for review.
  • Ask the Division of Marine Fisheries to design a study that compares closed trawling areas, specifically the Newport River, to open areas to determine the impact trawling has on sedimentation in primary and secondary nursery areas.
  • Delay review of the N.C. Red Drum Fishery Management Plan by one year, from July 2014 to July 2015, so the state may use the results of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Data, Assessment and Review stock assessment slated for 2015.

The commission also heard an update on the state Division of Marine Fisheries’ application for an incidental take permit for sea turtles in the gill net fishery. The division is waiting to receive this permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service before deciding when to reopen waters to large mesh gill nets. The division hopes to receive the permit by mid-September, and requirements of the permit will impact the division’s decision on when to reopen the waters, including the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area.

http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/

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

Web: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/foma/main.php

Email: fort.macon@ncmail.net

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: http://www.crystalcoastadventures.com

Posted by & filed under Articles.

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, www.ncoif.com.

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.

 

Bibliography:

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)

http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/WWW/macsis/fish.htm

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary

http://www.vims.edu/adv/fisheries/index.html

e-nature.com

http://www.enature.com/guides/select_Fishes.asp

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

35300 Pictures, 31200 References)

http://www.fishbase.org/search.html

Biosis, Guide to the Animal Kingdom for Students and Educators

http://www.biosis.org/free_resources/classifn/classifn.html#fish

National Biological Information and Infrastructure

http://my.nbii.gov/portal/biobot/nbiifedsrch.asp?UserID=2&userid2