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Release: Immediate Contact: Patricia Smith
Date: May 20, 2016 Phone: 252-726-7021 or 252-342-0642

Recreational cobia regulations go into effect Monday


MOREHEAD CITY –The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has issued a proclamation consistent with the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission’s decision to impose restrictions on the recreational cobia fishery. On Thursday the commission voted to impose the following restrictions on recreational cobia:


  • A 37-inch fork length (measured from the tip of the snout to the fork in the tail) minimum size limit for all recreational fisheries.
  • Anglers fishing from private boats may only fish on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays under daily possession limit of two fish per vessel or one fish per person if only one person is on board.
  • Those fishing from the shore or shore-based structures (pier or surf) may fish seven days a week with a daily possession limit of one fish per person.
  • Those fishing on a for-hire boat (charter or guide) may fish seven days a week with a daily possession limit of four fish per vessel or one fish per person if fewer than four people are on board.
  • Those practicing catch-and-release may fish seven days a week.


The commission’s decision was in response to a federal announcement that, because the annual catch limit was exceeded last year, it intends to close the recreational cobia season in federal waters north of the Georgia-Florida border on June 20. In order to remain consistent with the federal fishery management plan, the federal government encouraged states close state waters for recreational cobia season on June 20. The commission did not approve the division’s recommendation to either close state waters on June 20 or select one of eight size and vessel limit combinations already analyzed by federal government that would have resulted in a lengthened season if adopted by both North Carolina and Virginia.


The commission’s decision to impose these additional restrictions is an effort to extend the recreational cobia season in state waters. These new restrictions go into effect on Monday. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will submit these new restrictions to the federal government and request an expedited review to determine whether these actions will be sufficient to allow the season to be extended in state waters beyond June 20. If the federal government determines that these restrictions are not sufficient to remain consistent with the federal fishery management plan for the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic regions, additional restrictions may be necessary.


For more specifics on the regulations, see Proclamation FF-25-2016 at






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1601 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699

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Dr. Bogus’ BOOK CLUB

1.       SCIENCE BASED on fishes and their world and the “why” (as we understand it) of fish behavior.

a.       What Fish See, Understanding the optics and color shifts for designing lures and flies.

i.      By Colin J Kageyama

b.      Through the Fish’s Eye, An anglers guide to fish behavior.

i.      By Mark Sosin & John Clark

c.       The Fisherman’s Ocean, How marine science can help you find and catch more fish.

i.      By David A Ross

d.      Sharks, Skates and Rays of the Carolinas

i.      By Frank J Schwartz (IMF)


a.       North Carolina’s Ocean Fishing Piers, from Kitty Hawk to Sunset Beach.

i.      By Al Baird (NCFPS)

b.      Striped Bass Chronicles, The saga of America’s great Game fish.

i.      By George Reiger

c.       The Most Important Fish in the Sea

i.      By H Bruce franklin

d.      Striped Bass Fishing (classic)

i.      By Frank Woolner, Henry Lyman

3.       HOW TO (Venue)

a.       Mike Marsh:

i.      Inshore Angler, Coastal Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide

ii.      Offshore Angler, Carolina’s Mackerel Boat Fishing Guide

iii.      Fishing North Carolina (from the mountains to the coast)

b.      Joe Malat (Pamphlets)

i.      Pier Fishing, How to catch more fish from Atlantic and Gulf Coast piers

ii.      Surf Fishing, Catching fish from the beach, when, where and how.

iii.      Let’s Go Crabbing

c.       Surf and Saltwater Fishing in the Carolina’s

i.      By Jeffery Weeks

d.      The Complete Book of Surf Fishing

i.      By Capt. Al Ristori

e.      Coastal Fishing in the Carolina’s

                                                    i.      By Robert J Goldstein

f.        Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast

i.      By Eric B Burnley

g.       Inshore Fishing the Carolinas’ Coasts, Finding and catching the most popular salt-water Game Fish

i.      By Bob Newman

h.      The Saltwater Fisherman’s Bible

i.      By Erwin A Bauer, revised by Bob Sterns

i.        Pier Fishing in North Carolina

i.      By Robert J Goldstein


a.       Fly Rodding the Coast

i.      By Ed Mitchell

b.      The Complete Kayak Fisherman

i.      By Ric Burnley

c.       How to Fish Plastic Baits in Saltwater, A complete guide to rigging and fishing plastic lures to catch your favorite gamefish

i.      By Capt. Jim White

5.       GET INFO!

a.       Ken Schultz’s Fishing Encyclopedia

i.      By Ken Shultz

b.      How to Read a North Carolina Beach, Bubble holes, barking sands and rippled runnels

i.      Orin H Pilkey, Tracey Monegan Rice, William J Neal

c.       Common Marine Fishes of North Carolina

i.      By Frank J Schwartz (IMF)

d.      By Vlad Evanoff

i.      Salt Water Fishing Rigs (Pamphlet)

ii.      Salt Water Bait Fishes (Pamphlet)

e.      The Bluefish Cookbook

i.      By Greta Jacobs & Jane Alexander

f.        Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast, Common birds, crabs, shells, fish and other entities if the Coastal Environment

i.      By Peter Meyer

6.       FICTION

a.       Douglas Adams

i.      So Long and Thanks for all the Fish

ii.      The Salmon of Doubt (Terry Jones finished the book after DA’s death)

b.      All Fishermen are Liars, True tails from the dry dock bar.

i.      Linda Greenlaw

c.       Standing in a River Waving a Stick

i.      By John Gierach

d.      In the Heart of the Sea (Nantucket whaling & movie, based on real events)

i.      By Nathaniel Philbrick

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Important Crystal Coast GPS (N latitude/W longitude)


BIG ROCK: (34 09.94/76 10.79, 34 18.31/76 11.05, 34 10.62/76 08.40) It is located 39 mi.  SE of Beaufort Inlet at a heading of 161 degrees.  Less crowded is the Swansboro Hole 16 mi.  SW of the Big Rock (34 00.461/76 16.085)

The Rise: N 34 00 80        W 076 22 72

The 90-ft. drop area is located about 34 miles SE of Beaufort Inlet between the 14-Buoy (WR 14) and the Big Rock.  It is a 3-tier drop where the bottom drops from 90ft to 180 ft in the space of a few miles.  Warm water eddies from the gulf stream are directed into this area after being deflected from the Big Rock and because of this, plus the underwater ledges, this can be a productive fishing area at times for all sorts of game fish.  This area is marked on most charts of the area and Loran numbers are 27007.2/39572.4 and GPS numbers are 34 12.65/76 15.27.

Other offshore locations out of Beaufort Inlet: Certainly, the West Rock is approx. 22 miles out of Beaufort Inlet on a heading 180 degrees at loran 27072.1/39521.5 and GPS 34 17.86/76 35.06. This is in the general area of the 240 rock, 210 rock, and AR 305.  The West Rock is listed on all of the charts for the area and is really productive for kings, dolphin later in the summer, and bottom fishing year round.  It has been the experience that the West Rock sees less traffic than some of the surrounding reefs which is fine since this reef is as productive as any in the area and you don’t have to a lot of boat traffic.

Other inshore locations out of Beaufort Inlet: Dead Tree Hole (34 39.24/76 38.06), 1.5 miles South of Shackleford Banks, 3-mi. East of Beaufort Inlet.  Barge, North of the Trawler Buoy off of Cape Lookout.  Dump Site Buoy, just West of the old sea buoy at Beaufort Inlet.  This is marked with a yellow marker.  AR 315, 320 etc.  Check the NC-DMF site for info on location and structure of these AR’s. ( ) AR 315 is great for deep jigging for Spanish and grays and live minnows for flounder.

Out of Bogue Inlet 45 min. Rock, Keypost Rocks, AR 340, 342, 345 are productive. Keypost Rocks KP1: 34 38.18/77 01.90, KP2 34 37.75/77 01.76. SE Bottoms: Head S/E out of Bogue Inlet for 10 miles and you will be on SEB, they extend out another 2 miles. GPS-34 30.357/76 59.972. It is just over from Charley “C”, buoy.


AR315 – BUOY (ATLANTIC BEACH)  48′         N 34 40.200         W 76 44.400

AR320 – BUOY (CLIFTON MOSS)     48′         N 34 39.320      W 76 48.250

Dead Tree Hole Area (off Shackleford Banks) N 34 38.748     W 76 35.559

Bogue Inlet Sea Buoy N 34 37.596 W 77 06.124

30 min rock: 34 32.69, 76 24.09, 45 min rock: 34 33.06, 77 03.31

Honey Hole/Sponge Rock 34 26.300, 77 01.300

Christmas Rock: 34 24.00, 77 08.78

Diver’s Rock: 34 29.42, 77 16.37

45-Minute Rock:     N 34 33.06           W 77 03.31

Bear Inlet Rock:     N 34 35.14  W 77 08.71

East Rock (Bogue):          N 34 35.33           W 76 56.75

Honey Hole/Sponge Rock:     N 34 26.30           W 77 01.30

Honeymoon Rock:   N 34 27.65           W 77 08.78

Keypost Rock: KP1: N 34 38.18   W77 01.90, KP2:  N 34 37.75   W 77 01.76

Lost Rock:            N 34 32.00           W 77 06.06

Southeast Bottoms:        SEB1:     N 34 29.42   W 77 01.62, SEB2: N 34 30.10   W76 59.74, SEB3: N 34 29.18   W76 58.34

Station Rock:  N 34 35.27               W 77 04.11

AR 330 N 34 33.380         W 76 51.160

AR342   N 34 36.320         W 77 02.110

AR340                   N 34 34.210         W 76 58.180

AR345   N 34 32.180         W 76 58.280

AR350   N 34 29.900         W 77 21.300

AR355   N 34 21.110         W 77 20.000

Jerry’s Reef        N 34 28.970         W 76 53.190

Rock South of 13              N 34 28.510         W 76 54.260



Alphabet Buoys out of Bogue Inlet

A- Buoy                N 34 36.348                        W 077 05.508           46 ft.

B- Buoy                N 34 35.467                        W 077 01.590            49 ft.

C- Buoy                N 34 30.056                        W 077 02.086            60 ft.

D- Buoy                N 34 25.538                        W 077 05.737             70 ft.

E- Buoy                 N 34 22.601                       W 077 10.951              68 ft.

F- Buoy                 N 34 21.930                       W 077 17.515              60 ft.

G- Buoy                N 34 23.656                       W 077 23.645               51 ft.

H- Buoy                N 34 27.938                       W 077 21.164               44 ft.



D Wreck-34 36.37/76 18.88

Summerlin Reef (AR 285 buoy)-34 33.37/76 26.24

30 Min Rock-34 32.69/76 24.09

East Rock (Beaufort)-34 30.61/76 21.38

1700 Rock-34 33.34/76 20.12


Liberty Ship/Tug Boat/AR364 (Wrightsville Beach) 34 14.80, 77 42.95


Wreck Name                      Latitude               Longitude

Caribe Sea                           34 35.580             76 18.050

Hutton                                  34 39.461             76 48.434

Suloide                 34 32.694             76 53.729

Sub (U-352)                        34 13.655             76 33.893

Atlas Tanker                       34 31.685             76 14.457

LST Indra                              34 33.753             76 51.091

*Buoy 7(Home)                34 40.599             76 40.236

Aeolus                                  34 16.695             76 38.576

**Liberty Ship                   34 40.200             76 44.410

Amagansett                       34 32.218             76 14.866

Fenwick Isle                       34 26.240             76 29.410

Naeco                                   34 01.530             76 38.900

Schurtz                 34 11.268             76 36.121

Hardee                                 34 18.510             76 24.130

Papoose                              34 08.670             76 39.120

*Home Buoy can be safely reached from anywhere on the west side

**May not be correct

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Emerald Isle Water Temperatures for March 2016

Surf at Bogue Pier ranged from high of 54-degrees to a low of 44-degrees with an average of 49.9-degrees (blue diamonds). Bogue Sound had a high of 60-degrees and a low of 35-degrees with an average of 49.6-degrees (red squares). Last Feb. average for the surf was 45.3, sound 42.0. Much more moderate this year.

Fullscreen capture 432016 113310 AM.bmp

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Braided line, why, how and trouble free usage! by Dr. Bogus


  • What are super-braid fishing lines?
    1. Remember the original braided fishing line? Dacron polyester by DuPont.
    2. Today’s gel-spun polyethylene fibers make up the NEW braided fishing lines
      1. Fireline, PowerPro, Tuf Line, Sufix etc.
      2. Not for casual user, took me 2-years to get comfortable with use and knots.
  • Alternatives, low stretch mono lines-coated/copolymers/fluorocarbon
  1. Advantages (why?)
    1. Smaller diameter for equivalent strength of mono lines
      • 30/12, 20/6, 15/4, 10/2, 8/1 (250/80)
      • Use of smaller lighter reels with same line capacity (extra line capacity)
      • Less water resistance, less weight needed for getting line to bottom or trolling
      • Better casting distance
      • Little or no line memory, good for cold weather use
      • Extra strength and abrasion resistance Easier to pull fish away from pilings etc.
    2. Little or no line stretch (vs. rubber band stretch of mono lines)
      • 0 to 5% vs. 15 to 25% (20 feet/100 feet of line!)
      • Sensitivity, feel hat fish is doing, feel light hits (e.g. winter trout bump)
        • Original instant messaging (IM) system!
      • Quick hook sets (line moves the same distance as your rod tip)
        • Feel faster, hook faster, equals more hookups
  1. Disadvantages (why not?) WIND KNOTS are a MYTH…OPERATOR ERROR!
    1. Slippery: need backing on reels or will slip, knots may slip (two-sided tape)
      • Palomar, uni; Albright (20 turn), surgeon’s (four turns), uni to uni knot
    2. Soft, limp and thin: wind loops/knotting, wrapping of guides, hard to untangle knots and backlashes and snarls (hard to “pick” out tangle). Some are coated or fused.
      • Fuji guide design helps minimize looping/wind knots
  • Cutting, line is difficult, need special scissors, also I burn off end to a bead, to stop fraying
  1. Will cut through mono lines of neighboring anglers and your fingers too!
  2. May slip through eyes, split rings, snaps and other small gaps
  1. Tips
    1. Careful to not overmatch your rod with higher strength line that rated (breaks)
      • Lighten drag to compensate for non-stretch (set to mono you would have used)
      • Use gentler hook-set, gentle sweep or wrist snap, don’t try to set hook and land fish in one motion!!
      • If hung-up, pull from spool to pull free or break off, NOT your rod or hands
    2. Under fill spool (minimize snarls from loose line/coils, good for mono too)
  • Close bail manually to eliminate loose coils and place line in bail roller
    • Raise rod tip to tighten line and remove loops.
    • Look for loose coils and cast and rewind tightly periodically through finger tips
    • If loop gets caught under line, pull line through roller do not open the bail and pull off of the top!!! Don’t cast to get rid of the loop or it will make a mess.
    • If you still get a know (you didn’t do what I said), but rub some ChapStick on the knot and it will be easier to get out.
  1. Use mono or fluorocarbon leader, braided lines are very visible (red braid???)
  2. 20-pound test braid will tangle less than 10-pound test

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The lore and names behind the Rocks of the Crystal Coast,

By Dr. Bogus and many thanks to Capt. Lee Manning.

There’s an old adage good fishing and structure go hand-in-hand. Food and shelter beget little fish, which beget bigger fish and so on to the biggest of fish. This goes for freshwater, saltwater, inshore, offshore and any shore you want to mention. North Carolina, appropriately known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, is awash in structure with wrecks, reefs and rocks that dot our coast from north to south. The central Crystal Coast region of the Old North State is particularly notable due to the proximity of natural near shore rocks and reefs readily accessible to the weekend small boater. Near shore rocks like Lost Rock, Christmas Rock and Honeymoon Rock are local fish havens and popular and productive fishing locations, but did you ever wonder how they got their names? I certainly have!

To demystify this lore of the sea, I consulted Capt. Lee Manning; a former schoolteacher turned charter captain over 30 years ago. Capt. Manning currently operates the Nancy Lee Fishing Center in Swansboro and his experience not only holds the key to finding fish, but a long resident of the area, he has absorbed much of the local lore of the rocks and reefs as well.

Highlighting the accessibility of these fishing structures, Manning said, “Well, we’re fortunate, out of Bogue Inlet that we have a lot of rocks that are close to our inlet, probably more than most areas around here. We have probably six or seven that are within four, five, or six-miles of the inlet and most of them are rocky bottom and most of them have coral on them.”

When asked how close is close, Manning said “The closest rocks are probably Station Rock and Keypost within just two or three-miles from the Bogue Inlet. Super fishing, all kinds of fish like flounder, sea bass and a little bit of everything and of course in the spring and fall we have the king mackerel that come in along with other fish along the shoreline too.”

As fisherman, we’re always interested in what the bottom really looks like. In response, Manning said that “I’m not a diver, so I have my own imagination. I imagine what it looks like. Over the years, we catch pieces and it looks like rock. Some of it looks like shell rock, like it’s cemented together, when you pull it up, some is coral. Most all the ledges drop of five, six maybe seven-feet, at different points of the rock areas.”

So how did some of these rocks get their names? “First of all, Station Rock,” said Manning, “got its name years ago before we had the Lorans and GPSs and all the sophisticated equipment. You would use the Swansboro Coast Guard Station; it had a tower on it, a lookout tower. You lined the tower up with the Swansboro water tower and you go straight out. With your “paper machine” which we had then, you would mark the bottom, plus you could use the line up with Bogue Pier and one of the houses on the beach (there was not so many houses on the beach back at that time), and you could find Station Rock real easy. So it was named because of the station lookout on the Coast Guard Station.” Sure makes sense.

Speaking of making sense, how about 45-Minute Rock? “Forty five-Minute Rock”, said Manning, “ of course back years ago most of the boats that went out, with the speeds they ran, it took about 45-minutes to get there. They timed it and they would check the bottom with either wax or pitch from pine tree resin on a drop line and check the bottom and find it where it was shelly or bring up little pieces of rock on it, and of course they would start fishing in that area.”

Not all the names of the rocks are agreed upon by all. For example, “the Honey Hole and Sponge Rock,” said Manning, “are really the same rock.” “Over the years, it’s kind of changed. We always called it the Honey Hole. It’s the first section you get to when you go past 45-Minute Rock in a southerly direction. The divers started diving on it and found lots of sponge around the area and they started calling it Sponge Rock, and now the Honey Hole seems like it’s moved a little to the next set of rocks, and people started calling that the Honey Hole. But, Honey Hole and Sponge Rock were the same rock in the beginning,” said Manning.

“Farther out is the South East Bottoms, but it is the same thing,” said Manning, “it’s generally the first set of rocks to the southeast after you leave 45-Minute Rock.” When asked about the area, Manning responded, “Southeast Bottoms is a big area, a real big area with a lot of rocks, just to the east, southeast of Charlie (“C”) Buoy.” When asked about the fishing the bottoms, Manning smiled and said, “In the summertime you have all kinds of fish there. You have sailfish, dolphin (mahi), there’s even been wahoo caught out there. There is some of everything caught out in that area. It’s really a super good area and a super good king mackerel area too.” And it’s less than ten-miles out of Bogue Inlet, just set a southeasterly course.

With the rock locations well known, most people make the mistake to fish right on top of them, but as Manning was quick to point out, “Most of the rocks, if you go around them and fish them a lot, you’ll find little outcroppings all around the area in any direction and over the years, as I fish more, I fish were the ledges play out and the bottoms play out and the fish seem to congregate there more than the main part of the rocks. Maybe it’s because everybody fishes on the main part of the rock and the fish have moved out around the edges.”

Since it’s presumed that the rock locations were well know, how did Lost Rock get its name? “Well,” said Manning, “Lost Rock, is a rock that the biggest part of the rock runs perpendicular to the shore and was always very, very hard to find. You could be real close to it but ride right by it, and it was located in such a place that it was hard to look at the shoreline and find line-ups. We would fish on it once or twice a year when we would happen to stumble across it. And of course, once we got the Lorans and GPSs we finally got numbers on it, it wasn’t lost anymore. But we called it Lost Rock, because we couldn’t ever find it.”

One of the best close-in fishing rocks is Keypost, which is found directly out from the end of Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier in Emerald Isle. Describing the Keypost manning said, “It is really a long rock. They call it Inner Keypost, Outer Keypost, there’s a middle part of it too, and it’s a real long rock that probably runs a mile, mile and a half, maybe two miles offshore. We caught flounder on all the Keypost Rocks this past summer, sometimes as many as 30 flounder a day fishing there, and the biggest one was over 7-pounds.”

But to unearth the name, you’ll have to go all the way back to World War II (WWII) when our coast was threatened by German U-boats. “Back there in WWII,” said Manning, “the people that were watching the shoreline walked down the beach, and there was a post down there with a key in it and a lock box and they had to go down when they walked the beach, they had to unlock it and had to initial the card that was in there and lock it back up to verify that they had made the trip down the beach. That was the “keypost” and out from there was the Keypost Rock!”

Some of the rocks have a bit of a personal touch in the name. “Right down the beach, past the Keypost is Tom Smith’s Rock,” said Manning. “Tom Smith was a shrimper years ago and he stayed tangled up in the rocks all the time with his net, so they called it Tom Smith’s Rock.” Definitely a local joke.

“There are some other rocks, said Manning, “like East Rock, which is just the direction we have to go out of Bogue Inlet to get to it.”

With Valentine’s Day recently passed, with all the romance, there is one name that comes up, Honeymoon Rock. Yes it’s what you might guess,” said Manning, “Honeymoon Rock came from…well, one of our captains, many years ago got married and that’s where he spent his honeymoon. He took the boat out with his new wife, anchored up…and that was Honeymoon Rock.” One wonders if there is a Divorce Rock too!

As we can see, some of the rocks are named by direction, location, landmarks and even tongue and cheek after “notable” fisherman, others from use. That includes Christmas Rock, but it may not be what you might think. “Christmas Rock, “ said Manning, “you have to go back years ago. The boys out of Sneads Ferry, when it would start getting to Christmastime, they needed money for Christmas, they went out with their fish pots and catch some sea bass and sell them. There caught lots of sea bass out there, and they always called it Christmas Rock.” And now it’s on the charts and we all know it as Christmas Rock.

Another set of rocks just out of Bear Inlet is the Bear Inlet Rocks. No mystery what they were named for, but there are actually two sets of rocks. “There inshore Bear Inlet Rock, and there’s the offshore Bear Inlet Rock,” Manning pointed out, “and both of those rock areas are very, very good. Inshore Bear Inlet has a lot more rough bottom and there is one place with pretty steep ledges. The offshore Bear Inlet Rock has a really good ledge that runs right through the middle of it and is easy to find. Both areas are really good fishing.”

There are not only rocks out there that hold and sustain our local fishery, but the marked and maintained artificial reefs and the to numerous wrecks too. However, Manning mainly sticks to fishing the rocks. Why? Manning was emphatic and noted that, “I very seldom fish the wrecks unless I’m trolling because so many people know where the wrecks are and they troll on them. Usually the wrecks hold barracuda and so you catch lots of half-a-fish! “Mainly the divers like to go there and recreational folks go there,” he said. “There are so other many placers that I can go, but if I’m going by there I’ll troll across it,” said Manning.

Now that we have demystified some of the history and lore of some of your favorite nearshore fishing rocks of the Crystal Coast, and with spring fast approaching, can a great season of fishing be far behind? After the trials and tribulations of last season, I certainly hope that 2004 is a good one. Then there is the BIG ROCK! You’ve heard of it, it’s a ROCK and it’s very BIG, enough said.

   1)  45-Minute Rock: N 34 33.06      W 77 03.31
2)  Bear Inlet Rock: N 34 35.14      W 77 08.71
3) Christmas Rock: N 34 23.54     W 77 09.52
4)  East Rock (Bogue): N 34 35.33      W 76 56.75
5)  Honey Hole/Sponge Rock: N 34 26.30      W 77 01.30
6)  Honeymoon Rock: N 34 27.65      W 77 08.78
7)  Keypost Rock: KP1: N 34 38.18   W77 01.90, KP2: N 34 37.75   W 77 01.76
8)  Lost Rock: N 34 32.00      W 77 06.06
9) Southeast Bottoms: SEB1: N 34 29.42   W 77 01.62, SEB2: N 34 30.10   W76 59.74, SEB3: N 34 29.18   W76 58.34
10) Station Rock: N 34 35.27 W 77 04.11     


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Alphabet Soup; Fishing by the Letters by Dr. Bogus

National security, the sounds of freedom Camp Lejeune, the Marines, and the “alphabet buoys”, what do they all have in common? The so-called alphabet buoys in Onslow Bay off the shores of Camp Lejeune run along an arc sector roughly from outside of Bogue Inlet to New River Inlet on a radius of approximately 12-miles. They provide a demarcation danger zone that subtends the military restricted area between Bear and Brown’s Inlets. Specifically they designate the Camp Lejeune firing range, an area that is restricted when live firing exercises are conducted or when the military requires access to that part of the ocean for carrying out maneuvers. Locally, we refer to the firing range maneuvers as the “sounds of freedom”, which has taken on even more significance since the tragedy of “9-11”. But then the question is what does all this have to do with fishing?

Well, as Capt. Bob Townsend (Sea Dancer, Swansboro) was quick to point out, “I think they’ve been here for about 12 years,” remarked Townsend, “and the thing is the presence of the buoy, the anchor chain and the adjoining weight that holds the buoy there. They attract the small fish, and of course the larger baitfish get there and the predators come after that.”

So basically we got ourselves attractors, and a food chain is established, in fact a stable food chain for each of the buoys “A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H” and an abundance of bait fishes.

How abundant? “Normally we could find cigar minnows, greenies, Spanish sardines, and chub mackerel there,” said Townsend, “in addition obviously to your pinfish and small black bass and that kind of thing too.”

With the great variety of baits available, everyone has their own favorites. When asked, Townsend said, “For me, the primo bait for king mackerel and most striking fish is what I call a chub mackerel. It’s a Boston mackerel, probably seven to eight inches long, and it’s very lively and pulls real well, it doesn’t weaken as bad as the cigar minnows do.”

For many others including Capt. Shane Brafford (Second to None, Swansboro), the cigar minnow is top of the bait food chain. Why? There are lots of cigar minnows out there,” said Brafford, “and they’re good for just about anything you want to catch.”

If you motor over the Charley Buoy for example and turn on your sounder, what you’ll often see is massive balls of bait, sometimes on the surface often somewhere there and the bottom, which for Charlie Buoy is around 60-feet give or take a few lumps and bumps. But seeing all those potential bait doesn’t make it your bait, it’s the Sabiki or bait catcher rigs that make them bait, a string of maybe six or so tiny gold, laser sharp hooks that are jigged up and down just looking for bait to bite! Typical gear for using the Sabiki rig is simple, as Brafford pointed out, “I use real light line spinning tackle, said Brafford, “that is eight to ten-pound test (line) so if I have to break it off I can do it without ruining a whole bunch and I have a heavy egg sinker on the bottom which I paint them black.” Why I asked? “Otherwise they get eaten off,” snickered Brafford.

Getting the weights eaten off isn’t the only problem however a Townsend quickly pointed out. “Quite often when we’re jigging, we’ll have our Sabiki rig cut off on the way up,” said Townsend. “It seems like the attraction of those baitfish hooked on the Sabiki attracts strikes from the kings as we’re bring them up. They’re eating the fish even before we can get them up and rigged.” “That’s not so bad of course,” Townsend explained, “we like to have that sign, because it means that there are kings present, so if we can get a couple of baits up and get them on the light line even while we are jigging, we’ll get a fish on while we’re still jigging bait.”

Getting those baits off the Sabiki rig is the next problem. Sharp hooks, squirming fish on a thin line, but not to worry as Brafford picked up a special tool. “I got a little a little de-hooker or two,” said Brafford, “or a long nose pliers works well too, and you just shake them off right into the live bait well.”

Obviously you have to be more considerate of live bait than dead bait, so how do you rig your live bait? “Like most live baiters,” said Townsend, “I try to go light; I use a small nose hook, where it doesn’t cause too much trauma to the bait when you hook him up. I hook him through the lips or sideways across the nostrils. Then normally I have a stinger hook with a little heavier wire that I put a treble hook and normally I imbed that stinger hook on the top of the back, up in front of the tail so it doesn’t interfere with the swimming of the bait.”

So you really want to keep it naturally looking and swimming in the water to be most successful I asked? “Absolutely,” exclaimed Townsend, “if you hook your treble hook or stinger hook too far to the stern of the fish, it interferes with his ability to swim in a natural way.”

Brafford goes light and short too. “I use a small number-six treble hook, noted Brafford, “and number-six solid steel wire, I personally prefer it over the stranded wire. Most time when I live-bait, I use only about a foot of wire, which is tied directly to my 20 or 30-pound mono fighting line. The less (wire) you set; the more you hook up with them.”

A natural looking bait is one key to successful live baiting, which includes trolling speed. So how slow do you go? “Just a very slow troll, just as slow as I can go,” said Brafford.

Just like baits, everyone has a favorite buoy to fish. Charley Buoy is by far the favorite of many anglers. Why? More bait? More fish? Why? Townsend speculated on one possibility. “I think one of the things, it’s a coincidental thing,” said Townsend, “there wasn’t an intention there but the Charlie Buoy, which is one of the most popular ones to fish because of the proximity to the inlet is right on the edge of Southeast Bottoms, and it’s a good live bottom area. So not only does it provide structure but it’s also on a good hard bottom also.”

Bait in the bucket, or the live well and rigs in hand, where is the best place to fish? Brafford prefers to stay close to the bait. “I do most of my fishing around the C-buoy,” said Brafford, “you’ve got Southeast Bottoms, and AR-345 very close, and there is just a lot of good bottom around C-buoy, it’s just a good hard uneven rocky bottom.”

Townsend uses plan “D”. “I normally don’t fish the “C” or Charlie Buoy that much,” explained Townsend, “if I get there and I’m jigging bait and we’re drifting, I’ll put some light lines out so I’ll fish there some, but unless there is a presence of fish I won’t fish there because it’s fairly crowded, it’s just hard to fish. Some people fish the “D” Buoy, and it’s just offshore of a really good out-cropping of rock, so it gives you the buoy to fish around and the rock just inshore of it maybe three-quarters of a mile.”

There are many other good locations nearby those buoys to fish too, that’s another reason that makes them popular fishing destinations. What are some of them, and which ones do you like to fish? When you get your bait, where do you go? The most popular place to fish of course to fish is Southeast Bottoms,” said Townsend, “and then to Honey Hole, the 50’s-Bottom and Sponge Rock area, which are all within two or three miles of the Charlie Buoy. So you have pretty much a real good choice on which way you want to go on that particular day. Get your bait at Charlie Buoy; you don’t have more that a mile or two run before you can start fishing pretty good structure.”

Good baiting and fishing are important, but another aspect is the convenience, closeness and accessibility of these inshore locations so how far out are some of those buoys? I know I can see Alpha buoy from the beach at Bogue Inlet. “Well the Charlie Buoy I think is only about eight-miles,” calculated Townsend, “and the Alpha Buoy and the Bravo Buoy are only within two or three miles of the beach. And of course, the Bravo Buoy is just offshore of the Keypost Rocks and AR 342, so that makes a convenient place where you normally can count on getting bait and go right on to fish on the structure you choose there.”

So this is really available to some not very big boats, boats that don’t or shouldn’t go very far offshore? “Absolutely,” Townsend remarked, “the inshore reefs and the artificial reefs that are in there, in conjunction with those alphabet buoys as you call them, are a real god-send for the 21-foot boats that really don’t care to go out of sight of land. There are certain days when they can go where they want to, but the average day here with the southwest wind two to three-foot sea, the 21-footer needs to stay fairly close to shore.”

Bait in hand, rigs made the night before and ready to go, now what kind of fish can you expect? “Well,” said Townsend, “I think in the early spring you would count on catching flounder and the bottom feeders there, but as the water warms up in the early summer the smaller kings are the first thing to show up there. And anytime during the summer or in the fall you are subject to catch a big king there. All those buoys are somewhat around an inlet, and my personal opinion is that most of the big female kings that are tournament grade fish are caught somewhere around an inlet as a rule, in 60-foot or less of water.”

But what other kinds of game fish do you find in the summer, some of the big stuff, dolphin, wahoo, sails? Townsend goes down the list. “I have caught dolphin, I have caught wahoo at the alphabet buoys, primarily the “C” and “D” buoy. In the years past, there’s been some days when the “C” and the “D” buoy both were excellent, where you had excellent catches of average kings, teenagers…in the teens as far as weight goes, and very large numbers of them too. I’ve even caught a dolphin or two in on the “A” or “B” buoy, and the “F” buoy way off of Sneads Ferry, is really more prevalent for dolphin, with the “E” and the “F” being the best for them. And you’re always going to have you share of amberjack and barracuda around those buoys too.”

Quite a list indeed, some for sport, some great on the dinner table, but are there even some surprises? “Well,” exclaimed Brafford, “I’ve caught sailfish at Charlie Buoy and I’ve caught them as close as the B-buoy before too!”

How much fun is that? “I’ll tell you,” said Brafford, “it’s a whole lot of fun on 20-pound test! They jump, and they put on a real good show. It can last 35 or 40-minutes trying to get him in.”

When you get him in, what do you do? How do you release a fish like that? “With a sailfish,” said Brafford in a serious voice, “we never put him in the boat, if I have to we’ll cut the wire, but we try to get the hook out first! We’ll take some pictures beside the boat, and we’ll put a hand on the bill and one on his tail and drag him and revive him until he’s good. When he’s good, you can tell when he is revived and you let him go. And we use bronzed hooks so they rust out fast, no stainless steel around here, just number-6 4X (4-strong) bronzed hooks, that’s all we use.”

So the next time you hear the sounds of freedom booming in the distance, think of Camp Lejeune and our Marines first and then how lucky we are to go fish by the letters of the alphabet buoys. Recite and hum after me: A-B-C-D-E-F-G, H…, you know the children’s alphabet song!

Specific information about the rules of Navigation in these restricted areas can be gotten from “Coast Pilot 4, Chapter 2, Navigation Regulations” ( and warnings of impending military use of the area will be contained in the weekly “Notice to Mariners-District 5” (


Alphabet Buoys: GPS Coordinates and Water Depths.

    Buoy             Longitude                     Latitude               Depth
A- Buoy          N 34 36.348                W 077 05.508             46
B- Buoy          N 34 35.467                W 077 01.590             49
C- Buoy          N 34 30.056                W 077 02.086             60
D- Buoy          N 34 25.538                W 077 05.737             70
E- Buoy           N 34 22.601                W 077 10.951             68
F- Buoy           N 34 21.930                W 077 17.515             60
G- Buoy          N 34 23.656                W 077 23.645             51
H- Buoy          N 34 27.938                W 077 21.164             44


45-Minute Rock: N 34 33.06      W 77 03.31
Bear Inlet Rock: N 34 35.14      W 77 08.71
Christmas Rock: N 34 23.54    W 77 09.52
East Rock (Bogue): N 34 35.33      W 76 56.75
Honey Hole/Sponge Rock: N 34 26.30      W 77 01.30
Honeymoon Rock: N 34 27.65      W 77 08.78
Keypost Rocks: KP1: N 34 38.18   W77 01.90, KP2: N 34 37.75   W 77 01.76
Lost Rock: N 34 32.00      W 77 06.06
Southeast Bottoms: SEB1: N 34 29.42   W 77 01.62, SEB2: N 34 30.10     W76 59.74, SEB3: N 34 29.18   W76 58.34
Station Rock: N 34 35.27 W 77 04.11
AR342 N 34 36.320    W 77 02.110
AR340 N 34 34.210    W 76 58.180
AR345 N 34 32.180    W 76 58.280
AR350 N 34 29.900    W 77 21.300
AR355 N 34 21.110    W 77 20.000
Hutton N 34 39.461    W 76 48.434
Suloide N 34 32.694    W 76 53.729
Jerry’s Reef   N 34 28.970    W 76 53.190
Rock South of 13      N 34 28.510    W 76 54.260

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Emerald Isle Water Temperatures for February 2016

Surf at Bogue Pier ranged from high of 54-degrees to a low of 44-degrees with an average of 49.9-degrees (blue diamonds). Bogue Sound had a high of 60-degrees and a low of 35-degrees with an average of 49.6-degrees (red squares). Last Feb. average for the surf was 45.3, sound 42.0. Much more moderate this year.

Fullscreen capture 322016 15553 PM.bmpBelow is the comparison of surf temperatures for 2015 (blue)  and 2016 (red). Plots are 4th order polynomial fits to the data.

Fullscreen capture 322016 20330 PM.bmp