August 8, 2016

Outer Banks Angling: It’s hot out there

By ROB ALDERMAN

The past several weeks have packed some serious heat indexes. With sky-high humidity, the temps have felt at or above 110 degrees, which can be described only as oppressive.

Strong, offshore southwest winds have been responsible for the high temps and, in some areas, for a big cool-down in water temperatures.

The weather has been far from prime for fishing or catching, but that hasn’t stopped anglers or the fish. The catching is what I would expect it to be at this time of year and with these conditions.

The inshore reports for pier and surf have not been phenomenal, but anglers have still managed to catch a variety of fish.

Black drum, sea mullet, puppy drum, blow toads, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, spot, and croaker and a few other bottom fish have made the reports -- along, with the occasional cobia, king mackerel, or tarpon from the piers.

There is no secret hot spot in these conditions, and it’s simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Given the geographical layout of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands--certain areas may be more productive than others, depending on the temps and wind direction. Local tackle shops can help point you in the right direction.

For the next few weeks, I wouldn’t expect too much change, as August is usually a warm month. But, September generally begins to bring breaks in the heat and, with it, a general uptick in catching.

Cape Point recently reopened to both pedestrian and ORV traffic, and this area can be productive at this time of year, especially in the early mornings or late evening for bluefish and Spanish mackerel on lures.

The inshore and near-shore boaters continue to do well with their catches of bluefish and Spanish mackerel, along with some fair catches of drum of all sizes. The Hatteras boats have had a better shot at these fish most of the season, both in the ocean and backwaters. But, there have definitely been a better showing of them in recent weeks for the Oregon Inlet boats on both sides.

We're still seeing the occasional cobia or king mackerel make the inshore reports, along with some near-shore boats still finding mahi on weed lines.

The offshore fleets are still finding a variety of tunas. Some days are better than others, but the fish being caught are a healthy class.  The boats finding the right weed lines are still getting good catches of mahi. Scattered billfish and wahoo are also making their way to the fiberglass.

August is historically when the Outer Banks sees a serious jump in its white marlin population. Last year, the season left a lot to be desired in comparison to years past. But, it’s early and everyone is hoping for a strong season.

All of which is a nice boost for the local economy on all fronts.

August is also a big month for offshore tournaments, and since a lot of boats are targeting billfish we can get a little insight to the season.

I am still recovering from a ruptured disc in my neck that left me with a fresh titanium plate and a couple screws, but I have been getting out in my kayak for myself and with a few guides. I haven't caught much of any size worth writing home about, but I am still impressed by the number of young spawn I’ve been finding.

Puppy drum, speckled trout, flounder, and stripers -- all from 6 inches to 12 inches -- have been mighty thick at times -- almost on every cast.

I am very excited to see this, but I am crossing my fingers. These fish are extremely vulnerable at this age. They will spend the next couple years in the backwaters, and a harsh winter could wreak havoc on them.

However, a couple years of mild or reasonable winters, and we could -- I stress could -- see some excellent fishing in the sound from spring flounder and drum to fall specks and early winter stripers. Most of these fish are only a few or several months old, but they can live for 30, 40 or even 60 years, depending on the species—especially stripers or drum.

So some light tackle in the backwaters could go a long way to provide some action right now.

And, if you do catch some of these young fish right now, be aware of how you handle and release them, as they will be exactly what you want down the road.

Well…there you have it -- your August fishing report. Nothing is being caught hand-over-fist, but there are fish to be caught.

The forecast calls for plenty of heat for the immediate future, but embrace it. If you're sweating bullets while fishing, then you're not working—and that is always a good thing. Find some AC or go for a swim and cool off.

I definitely know you cannot enjoy the salt air or catch a fish from your couch.

Go fishing and play hard.

(Rob Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 16 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, Release Reels, Yakattack and is an ambassador for Ugly Stik. You can follow his adventures at www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)

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