October 21, 2013

Outer Banks Angler: Back to normal


It may be hard to describe fishing as back to normal when so much has changed over the years.

Seasonal beach closures and permanent beach closures have actually changed so much about beach fishing, it is getting harder and harder to remember what was normal.

I know for sure that a government shutdown that led to the entire beach being closed to all ORVs and pedestrians (by law) is far from normal.

Every single type of user felt the sting of the 17-day closure, although most individuals ignored the “no trespassing” signs and hiked into the beaches on foot and made the best of the situation.

Even though, technically, the beaches were closed and no one should have been on them outside the villages, the NPS law enforcement rangers looked the other way on enforcement of this temporary policy.

The truth is that they had no choice. The rangers didn't have the manpower to ticket the invading public nor did they have the ability to stop them over such a huge area.

I spent some time recently fishing with a friend of mine from Montana who was here on vacation. I asked him how the NPS was enforcing the closures where he came from. His response was that they weren't enforcing it. My buddy, Dan, told me that it would have taken longer to block the thousands of access points than the government closures would last and that there were only a handful of rangers to enforce the closures for what was nearly endless territory.

It makes you wonder why the NPS closes some parks and monuments, when there is a great deal of park area that logistically they could never close.

I guess it's just to show they can.

But, I do not blame the rangers on the lower level, but rather, I blame the upper level officials within the National Park Service and at the D.C. level.

But, hey, can you imagine if our local rangers had handed out several hundred or a couple thousand trespassing tickets in recent weeks and flooded Judge Boyle's calendar with that stuff? That would have almost been worth the ticket.

One thing is for sure, I have never found a Republican, Democrat, liberal, environmentalist or any of the above who thought a total national park closure within the U.S. to be necessary or agreed with it.

I hope that after this event there will be major changes to the policy, should this ever occur again.

Now that the beaches are back to normal as we currently know it, the fishing has been pretty good.

 From Hatteras to Ocracoke, the puppy drum fishing has been great and it should be.

The puppy drum numbers in the sound waters this year was insane, and now that it is fall, those fish are pushing out of the inlets and feeding up and down the beach.

The water temperatures are still hovering around 70 degrees or so, which is a little abnormal for this time of year.

But, if this continues and the water temps fall gradually at this point, it could lead to great drum fishing for weeks to come.

Not to mention that this could also help with a potentially phenomenal speckled trout season from the surf, as they too had a great showing this year in the sound.

The speckled trout are currently getting picked off all along the beaches and without the interference of a storm, I'd expect that to get even better in time.

A variety of bluefish, pompano, flounder, sea mullet, spot, and croaker to name a few are all making the surf fishing reports.

Most of the bottom fish can be caught on shrimp or bloodworms, while the puppy drum are going to bite best on cut mullet or menhaden.

Speckled trout will respond to a variety of lures, and I suggest stopping in the local tackle shop and asking what is currently the hot lure.

Both Rodanthe and Avon piers have had a few citation drum caught, along with some good puppy drum fishing. Pier anglers, too, have had a mixed bag of bottom fish, and now is the time for all you fall spot fishermen to be ready for the big runs.

Hatteras Island's offshore fleets have seen some nice wahoo fishing, along with some fair catches at times of blackfin tuna, mahi-mahi, and scattered billfish.

The inshore boats around Hatteras Inlet have seen some great puppy drum fishing, with the occasional citation mixed in. Speckled trout, gray trout, and flounder have all made their way into a fish box of late.

The nearshore boats that have gone wreck fishing have done well with the triggerfish and sea bass.

 The fleets running through Oregon Inlet have had their fair share of trials of late.

If the hard northeast wind hasn't had them pinned down, then the inlet has been running a little short on water for a lot of boats to clear their draft.

But, like most on the Outer Banks, these fishermen are a hardy and salty bunch and have made the best of it.

 When they have been able to get out, there have been fair catches of tuna and mahi-mahi.

The inshore boats in the area have down very well catching puppy drum and speckled trout.

The extended forecast looks fair for the moment, with fair winds and air temps.

As the weekend and annual NCBBA Red Drum Tournament approach, we will see a dramatic change in air temps.

Right now the forecasts are indicating daytime highs in the low 60s and the night-time lows around 50 degrees.

Given that this change is so sudden, I do not believe it will have an immediate, negative effect on fishing, but I could be wrong.

So, the weather doesn't look too bad and the national seashore is now reopened. The fishing looks promising, and many accommodations have been drastically reduced in price for the fall season.

Now all you need to do is come on down and wet a line.

Go fishing.

(Rob Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 12 years and has worked in the recreational fishing industry the entire time. A former variety fishing TV show host, beach fishing guide, tackle shop and pier employee, Rob currently owns and operates Outer Banks Kayak Fishing. He is on the Pro-Staff of Bending Branches LLC, Wilderness Systems Kayaks and Release Reels. You can follow his adventures at www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)

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