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Emerald Isle Water Temperatures for February 2022
Surf temps for February were in the 40s early in the month rising to the mid 50s. This is unusual where Feb. temps are nearly flat averaging 50 at the beginning and 51 by the end of the month. This year the surf started in the upper 40s (48°) and peaked at 56°, don’t see that very often for February, with and average of 52.1 +/- 2.3°. Bogue Sound was even more dramatic starting at a low of 45° with a high of 61°, averaging 52.4 +/- 4.8, surprisingly the same average as the surf, just more variation. Check out the graph, blue diamonds are the surf, red squares are the sound temperatures.

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Emerald Isle Water Temperatures for January 2022
Surf temps for December were up high early in the month and downed rapidly by the end of the month with the surf dropping from a high of 62° to low of 46° (-16°) with a linear slope of 0.47°/day (R^2 0.911). Don’t see that often. Bogue sound was even more dramatic with a high of 64° and a low of 39° a change of -25°. So the surf at Bogue Pier had a High of 62°, low of 46° with an average of 59.3° +/- 4.5°. Bogue Sound had a high of 64° and a low of 39°, with an average 47.5° +/-6.7°. Check out the graph, blue diamonds are the surf, red squares are the sound temperatures.


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Emerald Isle Water Temperatures for December 2021
Surf temps for December were up and down but relatively flat but with a surprising rise of the surf and sound into the 60s towards the end of the month. Surf at Bogue Pier had a High of 60°, low of 55° (only 5° difference) with an average of 57.2° +/- 1.5°. Bogue Sound had a high of 63° and a low of 49°, with somewhat of a large 14° difference, and an average 56.2° +/-4.3°. Check out the graph, blue diamonds are the surf, red squares are the sound temperatures.

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Emerald Isle Water Temperatures for November 2021
Surf temps for November started high and dropped rapidly at a rate (slope of the line) of -0.4°/day. Surf at Bogue Pier had a High of 68°, low of 55° (13° difference) with an average of 61.8° +/- 3.8°. Normally November has a 6° range, 65°-59° (average 62°) in the surf. Bogue Sound had a high of 66° and a low of 47°, a large 19° difference, and an average 56.8° +/-5.4°. Check out the graph, blue diamonds are the surf, red squares are the sound temperatures.

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Emerald Isle Water Temperatures for September 2021
Surf temps for September were pretty tight for August, especially in the surf which had only a 5-degree range whereas the sound was 11-degrees. Surf at Bogue Pier had a Low of 77°, high of 82°with an average of 79.8° +/- 1.7°. The surf curve had a very slight negative slope of only -0.1°/day. Bogue Sound had a low of 73° and a high of 84° and an average 78.8° +/-3.3. Both surf and sound averaged under 80°. Check out the graph, diamonds are the surf, red squares are the sound temperatures. Our first mullet blow for this season was on 9/4/21 with surf temps 79°, sound at 78°. October is here and is the month where temps really start to take a plunge.

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Oyster Restoration Program WTKF Radio Show 9/20/21: Jason Peters (NCDMF) Mike McHugh Host and Dr. Bogus

Dr. Bogus: We have coming back to us Jason Peters from Marine Fisheries. First Jason, give people an idea on your background.

Jason Peters: Sure, thanks Dr. Bogus. As you said I’m Jason Peters, really glad to be back here today, I think this is my second visit, hope to be invited back again. We’ll see how today goes. I work at the Division of Marine Fisheries, I work for their habitat enhancement section. My title is officially Enhancement Program Supervisor, so what that means for me is that I oversee all the reef enhancement work that we do.

Dr. Bogus: Which is a very busy part of the duties on Marine Fisheries.

Jason Peters: It really is, but I like to say it’s more of a feel-good side of Fisheries. We give something back and so I oversee the Artificial Reef Program, the cultch planting program, which is the program we will be talking about today, and then the Oyster Sanctuary Program.

Dr. Bogus: We’re going to talk about the Oyster Restoration, that’s part of the restoration of things but why don’t you give people a little basic biology of oysters, because it plays an important role in restoring these reefs it’s an important consideration.

Jason Peters: Absolutely, so I’m an ecologist by training which means I’ve studied how organisms interact with their environment. Oysters start out essentially as larvae. So oysters will spawn in the water column, males and females put their seeds in the water column, they will fertilize, the larvae will travel through the water for about 2-weeks then after that point they will develop to a point settle on “suitable” habitat, hard rock substrate or other oyster reefs and then they will live there for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Bogus: Which is how long?

Jason Peters: It depends on where they are but in North Carolina we see 3, 4-years maybe max.

Dr. Bogus: That’s the life cycle!

Jason Peters: Yes about 3 or 4-years.

Dr. Bogus: So how long has the restoration project been going on? I remember a few years ago when you were requesting people dropping off shells I know that’s been around for a while.

Jason Peters: Sure, quite a bit of time actually. So we’ve got two main programs at the Division, one is the cultch planting program; the other is the oyster sanctuary. The cultch planting really is where restoration started with the division and with the state and that’s been around in some form or fashion since about 1915. So we’re over a hundred years now doing restoration in the state.

Dr. Bogus: What is the health of our oysters here in North Carolina at this point? I know we’re trying to restore things but what is it now compared to the historical background of the oyster habitat and the economics? 

Jason Peters: Sure absolutely, so in the 1800’s, really mid to late 1800’s I would say we were at the peak for our oyster populations and at that point the harvests didn’t increase substantially and we haven’t rebounded from that. So we’re about 10% or historical max from the 1800’s.

Dr. Bogus: And that’s been for quite some time, I went back and looked at Marine Fisheries website on the oyster harvests over the past 20 or 25-years, there are ups and downs obviously but there really hasn’t been a big change even from 20-years ago it didn’t seem.

Jason Peters: Right, there are quite a few pressures that we are seeing on oysters now that can affect their populations. Of course we’re seeing higher frequencies of hurricanes, which affect the salinity in the sounds more intensive agriculture and land development and all of those things, and harvest of course, all of those factors really can affect oysters and hence the need for restoration and restoration efforts to maintain populations at a harvestable level.

Dr. Bogus: In North Carolina geographically speaking what is the distribution…is it generally through the whole state north to south, what does that look like?

Jason Peters: Oysters of course they exist all the way from the Gulf Coast on up to Maine. We’ve got them throughout coastal North Carolina anywhere salinities are greater that about 12-parts per-thousand, maybe from the mouth of the Neuse eastward can support oysters. (Ocean salinity about 3.5-ppt)

Dr. Bogus: A big part of this program is collection and distributing the oyster shells on the reefs. Oyster shells and what other materials are good substrates for the larvae to affix to?

Jason Peters: Oyster shells are obviously the natural substrate, that’s what oysters settle on, so we know that that works, but they are not always available to us and of course they are quite expensive so we look to alternatives, the main that we use is actually a fossil type of shell, it’s fossil limestone and we get quite a bit of it, marine limestone marl, it is mined in New Bern. So it’s sourced in New Bern and we spread throughout the sound as our primary alternative.

Dr. Bogus: We know the size of the oyster shells, what is the size of stuff that you distribute, that’s probably a critical part too.

Jason Peters: I mentioned our two different programs cultch planting program is intended really to support a wild harvest and so we use smaller materials that can be picked up in tongs or dredges or things of that nature or hand harvested, so much smaller maybe 2-inches. Of course the method that we distribute them is via our fleet of 5-vessels with water monitors so we blast them off the side so that means that we need to have a little bit smaller material. In the sanctuary program we’re building much higher relief, these are big mountains for more of a long term insurance policy on our oyster population. And we’re building with much larger 12, 14-inch even larger pieces of limestone marl or concrete in some cases to build those because they are closed to harvest, people don’t need to go in there and excavate or anything like that.

Dr. Bogus: I saw a story in one of the publications recently and it was pretty impressive, there was a big boat which liked like tons of oyster shells, can you describe a typical day when you are dumping tons of oyster shells? (

Jason Peters: I think in that article that image that you saw was an image for our oyster sanctuary program and we build about 10-acres a year. What you were seeing there was a barge…we partner up with North Carolina Coastal Federation, or we have for the last several years and we’ve got a contractor that come in and takes about 1,500-tons of that material in a single barge load to the reef site. In a given year we’ll do maybe 12 to 15-of those barge loads for a 10-acre site.

Dr. Bogus: That seems like a thankless job, it seems like you have to put a lot of stuff down to make an impact on the situation with the oysters. We’ve obviously taken up over the years a lot of the oyster shells out and now we’re trying to get it back where it belongs.

Jason Peters: So we’ve got a bin at Marine Fisheries, anybody that has oyster shells we certainly collect them, and they go a long way to helping our cultch planting program and restoring the oyster populations.

Mike McHugh: I can ask a question, Jason, you talk about the economic impact that oysters have on the economy as far as harvesting and people consume it, but speak from a point of the ecology and the environment. How much water does one oyster filter in a day.

Jason Peters: Great question! So there is a lot of controversy over that number it reports up to about 50-gallons a day, really incredible. We were talking on one of the breaks about scaling that up. So we sample on a per-meter squared one-meter-by-one-meter, and we can see 200, 300-oysters in the single meter, and then you talk about acres of that times 50-gallons. It’s a lot of water that we’re filtering and that means a lot economically, clean water better fisheries, that brings people here.

Dr. Bogus: The habitat that you are generating can be determined where it is since it’s published on the NCDMF (

Jason Peters: It sure is and I would like to point folks to the trusty Google, just to Google NCDMF, you can type “oyster sanctuary” or “cultch planting” or “oysters” and you’ll find our main page and on that page there is a link to an interactive map. You can see all of the habitat that we’ve got out there, cutch planting and oyster sanctuaries and artificial reefs for that matter.

Dr. Bogus: It’s really good for the artificial reefs as well. What are some of your recent accomplishments? I know you’ve done a lot of work around the Cedar Island area, near the bombing range and all.

Jason Peters: So that’s where our crowning achievement is. In the last year we finished up a 60-acre site at what we call Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary, again that was in partnership with the Coastal Federation…

Dr. Bogus: I’ve fished there!

Jason Peters: And really a great spot for old drum fishing, you mentioned that in your report earlier. All of those reefs hold big drum. So that was our big one and then of course we’ve started our next sanctuary site at Cedar Island and we built about 10-acres this past year.

Dr. Bogus: What does that look like going forward? Do you have stable funding to do this and what is your plan for the next 5 to 10-years?

Jason Peters: We plan to continue our partnership with the Coastal Federation, we’ve been able to leverage a 50/50, we pay half, they pay half. Every year it’s doubled the amount of habitat we’ve been able to build. We’ve been really fortunate; our funding comes from the General Assembly almost exclusively at least our portion in the Division and we’ve been really fortunate to have strong funding for the last previous 5-years and we’ve hopeful to continue that strong funding.

Dr. Bogus: These reefs, some of those are sanctuaries; does that mean that those are off limits as far as harvesting goes? But there are other areas that you can harvest where you are creating these reefs?

Jason Peters: Correct, so our oyster sanctuary program I mentioned before they are much more complex larger areas, but they are closed to harvest, we build them as sort of an insurance policy to provide those larvae we talked about to the rest of the system and then the cultch reefs are open harvest smaller materials so that they can be collected.

Dr. Bogus: And then as a fisherman I know those reefs are very productive. I was just fishing over the weekend at a place called Emerald Isle Woods and right off the end of the pier there is big oyster reef and when I was able to fish at the high tide I can fish right over the top of the reef looking for red drum. So what other fish tend to accumulate around the reefs?

Jason Peters: Of course we know that trout, spotted sea trout, but weakfish also love these sites. We see sheepshead quite frequently. Seasonally, maybe not so much of a fishery, but we do see groupers and sea bass using that habitat for refuge…juveniles, and then red drum and black drum.  

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Surf and sound temps for August were pretty tight for August, especially in the surf which had only a 4-degree range whereas the sound was only 9-degrees. Surf at Bogue Pier had a Low of 82°, high of 86°with an average of 83.5° +/- 1.2°. The surf curve had a very slight negative (virtually flat) with a slope of only -0.03°/day. Bogue Sound had a low of 79° and a high of 88° (9° difference and almost identical to July) and an average 84.9° +/-2.3. August temps tend to be flat over the month as we saw again this year. Check out the graph, diamonds are the surf, red squares are the sound temperatures. August temps are usually flat and start to fall by September.

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Big Flounder WTKF radio show 8/16/21 with Capt. Lee Winkleman, Mike McHugh Host and Dr. Bogus


Dr. Bogus: We’re going to transition to today’s topic. We were going to have Tim with Lee today but he’s actually working today.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: He’s out there being famous. He can’t get a day off, that man fishes so much.

Dr. Bogus: We’ll find an off season time, we’ll get him in here.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: He’s made a name for himself, he’s always fishing.

Dr. Bogus: He’s a nice guy and a darn good fisherman.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: Best there is!

Dr. Bogus: Let’s start off with the current regs and let folks know when we actually have a season this year unlike last year when it was 6-weeks, we’ve whittled it down to almost nothing.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: I guess we were gifted with a season this year, and the anticipation of it is probably one of the biggest fisheries out there. It’s shocking on how many people are into flounder fishing as I am. But this year the season starts September 1st and it ends September 14th, a short season so we’ve got to keep that in mind…14-days and the good news is that the creel is the same and we have a 15-inch limit on size with a four person limit per day. Citations are given out at 5-pounds, any fish 5-pounds or over. Generally people want the big monster flounder it’s almost as good as getting a grander blue marlin in a sense, and the 5-pound fish are rare to find.

Dr. Bogus: I’ve caught a lot of citation fish but the only ones I actually submitted were the flounder ones. I could have had drum or bluefish or trout on my wall but I only have the flounder ones, the ones I’m most proud of.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: I feel the same way here Doc, I’m the same way, love them BIG flounder.

Dr. Bogus: You’re fishing mostly in the Morehead Port area and maybe on some of the near reefs, the regulations have to do with the status of the flounder, so what kind of flounder are you actually catching in that area…the southern flounder are the ones they are trying to boost the stocks of. What are you seeing?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: There are three types of flounder we have in this area, the southern, the summer and there’s the Gulf flounder. And we have in our area the summer is most dominant and it’s very hard to tell the difference between the three, you almost have to be a scientist to know but there are specific items you look for. The Gulf and the summer flounder have specific markings that have dark brown spots that actually look like a triangle or five patterns whereas the southern generally don’t they have kind of like light spots. Anyway we catch a lot of southern flounders, that’s what I’ve seen locally. The Gulf flounder is a flounder that’s usually a reef fish out on the reefs or in the deep ocean deep waters over 50-feet.

Dr. Bogus: What’s your biggest flounder?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: Well my personal best…

Dr. Bogus: No hedging the bet here Lee!

Capt. Lee Winkleman: My personal best is documented at 8.9-pounds, that’s a citation that I got last year. The funny story there is about this is that last year when the season ended, really the day after the season ended I pulled up a 9.5.

All laughing!!!

Capt. Lee Winkleman: But about 8 ½ pounds is about my personal best.

Mike McHugh: Can you tell us where you caught that one?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: Absolutely, anyone who has lived in this area for over the last 12, 15 years historically the port wall of Morehead City renowned for BIG flounder. And there are there are specific certain spots, but I won’t give you spot away Tim. But mine was caught actually on the back side of the port wall, looking at the Haystacks and drifting through there one day, and my last minnow, it was the smallest little minnow, and make sure you have a good net man, make sure your net man is on your side.

Dr. Bogus: That’s one of the questions I had…one thing with flounder it’s tricky netting them.

Mike McHugh: It’s a team, a team effort right.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: Make sure he’s your best friend and make sure that the net is big, because these flounder when they lay out flat they get very violent and they try to come out of the water and sometimes when they come out of the water they are really calm and soon as they see you they are done! They want to get out of there.

Dr. Bogus: What are some of your favorite locations if you are targeting BIG flounder? They are really a structure oriented fish because they are ambush feeders. What are some of the spots you can recommend for people?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: I was just telling Mike on the break, big flounder are ambush feeders they lay flat, they are not a fish that migrates around or swim a lot, they lay flat and dormant and wait for an easy kill. So as a mullet swims by or a shrimp or anything live they just jump out and attack it. So structure, they like to hide in the shade, I’ve caught some of my biggest flounder in shade so they like sitting around docks pilings. I’ve caught some of my biggest flounders off docks, right off the Morehead City waterfront in like one foot of water. Last year in the fall I caught a four-pounder in 1 ½ foot of water, I cast 4-feet out from the wall. They like all kind of reef structures. When you are out in the ocean, they like jetties of course, you can’t just catch them put in the open like most species, so you definitely have to search for structure.

Dr. Bogus: If you fish some of the nearshore reefs, which ones do you like to fish and are there locations where the flounder stack up a little bit better?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: That would have been a great Tim Rudder question. He has the marks on his, I’d like to buy that someday. Anyway AR 315 and AR 320 are generally easy reefs to attack, It’s only maybe 20 minutes away from the Beaufort Inlet. But you have the Liberty Ship out there…the AR 315 has probably 25 designated structural pieces anywhere from concrete pilings to ships and airplanes. The flounder just hover around those structures because one thing that those structures attract is bait and bait-fish so out there on the reef you can generally fish flounder two different ways, live bait like Tim and I do or you can use bucktails and Gulp! shrimp an jig for them.

Dr. Bogus: If you are looking for the big fish, people often say, “big fish, big bait, is that the right approach?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: That’s a great question Doc, you know in the last four years when I’ve caught flounder over 6-pounds, I open them up and you would be shocked what I find inside them. Last year I opened up a 6-pounder and he had a whole spot, and the spot was 10-inches! We’ve not talking a small fish. These predators, you know flounders are such predatory fish when they open their mouths you can stick a beer can in one over 5-pounds. They swallow fish whole, whole pinfish…

Dr. Bogus: People normally see their mouths closed but when you open them up they got a BIG opening (

Capt. Lee Winkleman: Flounder fishing is like a game of chess, that’s why I love it. I explain it a lot to my friends a lot of species of fish when you are out there fishing and if you catch a school, they just hit and run. Where flounder you have to finesse, if you are using live bait you have to give it time to eat, have to  give time to think it out. A flounder will actually have to hold its bait, let’s say you have a 4-inch finger mullet and you’re fishing structure, 90-percent of the times you have a flounder you think it’s snagged. You really think it’s snagged but it’s really a big one. And you think it’s snagged and as you pull up on that weight, and give it enough time to eat, then you start feeling him move around.

Dr. Bogus: How long do you like to wait?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: You know that’s why I love fishing because throughout the years it’s so transitional, it changes, sometimes you think you have your game on…and I’ve pulled some of the biggest bait out of the biggest fish mouth…I’ve seen them come up to the top of the boat with the live bait right in their mouth and let go right there and they were never hooked. I’ve brought them from 40-feet deep, a four or five flounder, but generally I wait about 30 to 45-seconds to let them eat. And what I have learned is that if you give them a chance to eat and you set the hook hard you’ll get ‘em! You’ll get ‘em.

Dr. Bogus: What kind of hooks you like to use, what size and did you ever try circle hooks?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: Never on flounder, we use the Kahle hook (a.k.a. the flounder hook). I strictly like live baiting, I like using live bait, for personal reasons I don’t get into jigging, I want the feel I want to get in the battle, I want to play the chess game when it comes to flounder. So I use a Kahle hook which is good for live bait and it saves the fish from getting injured as well. Ninety-nine percent of the time basically you are hooking the fish right in the jaw, the upper jaw. And you know right now it’s catch and release up until the season starts and you want to be able to put this fish back as safely as possible so it will swim away.

Dr. Bogus: You mentioned the turning basin, we know if you’ve ever tried to fish there most of the time it’s like a river going through there, deep river. What is your best timing to try to fish that effectively?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: With today’s technology you know, you have these trolling motors called “Spot Lock” and they keep the boat hovering right in the self-position GPS coordinates so that  helps a lot. But even so the port has a tremendous amount of current, so we time…when you’re fishing for big flounder and you’re fishing the port wall, time your fishing right at the peak of high tide, which I call a lull, or the bottom of low, you have about an hour of doorway between the two changes of the transitional tide and that’s the best bet, because when you fish for flounder you want to be vertical, you want to be right above them, straight down, you don’t want to be casting out to come forward, so when the tide is slow and low that’s when you want to be.

Dr. Bogus: We were talking a little bit earlier, one of the problems is if you have ever tried to net a flounder either on the pier, the pier is a nightmare sometimes or from a boat that is tricky. What are some suggestions of successfully netting…’cause they get frantic when they get near the surface.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: First rule of thumb is make sure who you are fishing with is your friend. Make sure they want that fish in the boat as much as you do. I’ve gotten to the point that when I fish for big flounder I just buy an excessively bigger net. It’s the safest bet in the long run. Because trying to get down, you lean over the boat and the flounder is making that first dive and you want to give him only one shot because the tail hooks, if you have a weak hook-set he can get off just like opening his mouth, a flounder can spit a hook, spit a bait right out of his mouth, I’ve seen it happen. So bigger nets, fish with a friend!

Dr. Bogus: What size Kahle hook do you use?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: I use a 2/0, going into the fall season the finger mullet are really nice and big and this is true the bigger the bait the bigger the fish, when you use a finger mullet that’s 4 or 5-inches long you actually set aside some of the small flounder and strictly go for the big ones so I go to a 3/0 Kahle hook.

Dr. Bogus: I usually use the 2/0 Kahle hooks, I found the No. 2s were too small.

Mike McHugh: How can people hook up with you Lee? What’s your contact information?

Dr. Bogus: I can be reached if someone wants to go flounder fishing, on my own Facebook Fishing Page, which is called Pier Precision Fishing, or another great way is from the NC Fishing Hole, which is a Facebook fishing site, we have over 29,000 members all over North Carolina 757.761.2167 to contact me directly.

Dr. Bogus: What are the flounder seasonally…spring, summer, fall seasons, how do you fish seasonally?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: A couple years back I started to fish year round just to try to get the frequency, because I love the flounder so much, but I found out that in the spring March, April and May, up till May, we have a really good spring season inshore. Guys at Marine fisheries have it down pat the scientists, because when they close off a season the last two years literally about 2-days after the season close last year we were catching flounders in tremendous amounts. I was at the Cape Lookout Rock Jetty, 2-days after the season closed last year (which was end of September 2020), and I’m 40 fish on my boat alone, 40 flounders in about 2-hours and  the boats around me were pulling them in nonstop. Of course, when the water gets cool you’ve got the prime time, October and November…

Dr. Bogus: They are going offshore to spawn that time of year.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: That was at the Rock Jetty, bur soon as the water temperature drops and the fall kicks in the flounder is at it’s prime. Summer it’s a great fishery because it’s actually you fish year around but you have these primes which is early spring and late fall.

Dr. Bogus: I usually like when the mullet come out along the beach, the “mullet blow” then you get them right along the beach in the surf.

Capt. Lee Winkleman: It’s a sign of the season, when the mullet show up it’s fishing time.

Dr. Bogus: How about hurricanes, what do you do then?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: Hunker down, we all do it, watch TV and drink some beer. Unfortunately our area has when it comes to rain, any time the fresh water hits the ocean puts a damper down…I always thought the big flounder would be one species that could withstand having some decent fishing even after a big storm, but I noticed that they are gone! They must have gone to better salinity waters.

Dr. Bogus: What’s your best by-catch when you are flounder fishing?

Capt. Lee Winkleman: That’s a great question, usually if you use a bait that’s big enough, that’s why I always try to get  3 or 4-inch range of finger mullet, you stay away from things like the trash fish, small black bass, the pinfish, lizard fish but by-catch would be those. Lizard fish will attack it all, and this season the ribbon fish.