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Outer Banks Angling: Red, white, and stripes

In this report, our fishing columnist has news on the red drum bite, a possible new record white marlin, and striper fishing.  Angling is looking good for the long holiday weekend.
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Shellfish studies signal a new strategy for the state

When it came to shaping coastal policy, the 2015 legislative session could go down as the year of the oyster.

In a bid to jumpstart low, relatively static production levels, legislators added more than a half-dozen provisions, including a look at new leasing practices, the potential end to a moratorium on shellfish leases in Core Sound, and a long-term plan for creating a major new sanctuary program for Pamlico Sound. 
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Fisheries panel places emergency limits on flounder catches

After five hours of motions, amendments and haggling over details, the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission approved an emergency measure Thursday that will close down most fishing for southern flounder in the state’s sounds after Oct. 16.

The restrictions, which are aimed at allowing larger numbers of fish to migrate into the ocean to reach spawning age, were deemed necessary by the Division of Marine Fisheries even though the usefulness of a 2014 stock assessment was challenged by a peer review.

Read the story by Rob Morris in The Outer Banks Voice.

Outer Banks Angling: Feel the beat of the drum

In recent weeks, the red drum bite has picked up tenfold from pier and surf. From Salvo to Avon, the surf bite has been really good at times. Many citation fish were landed by those targeting the big boys. I talked to friends who got into them and saw plenty of photos hitting social media.

Cape Point has had a few really big runs of drum, and surf fishermen on Ocracoke have had their share also. 
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It's 'rags-to-riches' story for winning Anglers Club tournament team .... WITH SLIDE SHOW

It was a real "rags-to-riches" story for the Tidewater Anglers Club of Virginia Beach, the team that took home the winning trophy in last week's 58th annual Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament.
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Anglers Club tournament is topic of Radio Hatteras show...WITH AUDIO

The annual Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament, the largest and one of the oldest on the East Coast, was the topic of the Radio Hatteras Interview Show, "To the Point," on Sunday, Oct. 18.

The guests for the interview were Larry Hardham, long-time president of the Anglers Club, and Pat Weston, the club's secretary. 
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Outer Banks Angling: Fall means the drum are around

It’s the end of October, and we are well into fall. After a brutal attack from Mother Nature at the end of September and earlier this month , the Outer Banks has had mainly mild weather. -- maybe, at times, a little too mild to catch good numbers of the bigger fish. However, the drum -- and other fish -- have still been around, if you go looking for them. 
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Rom Whitaker is top charter captain in Governor's Cup Tournament

Captain Rom Whitaker of Hatteras village is the winner for the charter boat captain's category in the 2015 Governor's Cup Billfish Conservation Series. Whitaker, whose charter boat Release placed ninth overall in the competition, was awarded his trophy at a recent ceremony at the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh.

Also winning an award at the ceremony was Judy Bonney, an owner of Hatteras Harbor Marina, where the Release is docked. Bonney won the Dale Ward Conservation Trophy, which recognizes an individual for efforts in billfish conservation in the sportfishing community.
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49 1/2-inch fish wins NCBBA Red Drum Tournament

The seventh annual North Carolina Beach Buggy Association Red Drum Tournament drew 292 anglers from across the country who caught 38 red drum, including 23 citations, six yearlings and nine puppy drum -- all released alive.

The winning red drum was caught by Jamie Fajardo of Fuquay Varina, N.C., who reeled in a 49.5-inch fish.  Fajardo was also last year's winner with a 52-inch red drum.  
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The season for harvesting oysters is underway

It's time to pull out the fire grates, steamer pots, and shucking knives because the season for harvesting oysters in North Carolina begins at sunrise on Thursday, Oct. 15. To keep this season healthy and happy, the state Division of Marine Fisheries offers some a few things consumers and fishermen should keep in mind. 
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Outer Banks Angling: The light at the end of the storm

The weather made it highly difficult for the offshore fleets to run most of the time and also made it very hard, if not impossible, to fish from a great deal of the surf, whether because of the surf being too tough, the tide being too high along the beach, or even the beaches being closed for safety by the Park Service.

Does this mean that no fish have been caught? No. 
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Makeup of state fisheries board invites political intrigue

State law authorizes a Marine Fisheries Commission to set policies governing the harvest of the state’s fish stock. It also says the commission is supposed to treat commercial and recreational interests fairly.

But the commission was designed in such a manner that a balancing act between the two competing interests on the board is all but impossible. The board’s makeup also lends itself to political intrigue in the appointment of members by the governor. The problem lies in how the nine seats are allocated.

Three are reserved for commercial interests, three for recreational and one for a marine scientist. Two are classified as “at large,” with the only qualification being a “knowledge” of the fisheries industry.

Without those at-large seats, it would be a seven-member board with a scientist serving as the tiebreaker. But with two at-large seats, historically both sides have lobbied governors to appoint members sympathetic to one of the two competing groups.

Until June of this year, the at-large seats were in the hands of two members who not only voted and voiced opinions in the interests of the recreational side, but both members, Anna Beckwith and Chuck Laughridge, voted almost in tandem with rules and policy changes recommended and endorsed by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA).

Click here to read the fourth installment in a five-part series examining who is in control, who is being ignored and who has no voice at all in the management of the state’s multi-million-dollar resource of finfish and shellfish.

Fish respond to warming ocean

Bangley was a doctoral student at East Carolina University in 2011 when he started recording shark activity in North Carolina sounds. In the previous four decades, nine juvenile bull shark pups were documented in Pamlico Sound. During the next three years, researchers with the state Division of Marine Fisheries would catch 54, Bangley said.

It is not just the juveniles that were being caught. Neonates – sharks that are less than one year old — were also appearing in Pamlico Sound. They begin showing in May and peak a month later, Bangley noted.  “And May and June is the pupping season in both Gulf Coast nursery habitats and Florida nursery habitats,” he said. 
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Battle brewing over flounder limits based on disputed study

Yet another clash between commercial and recreational fishing interests is coming to a showdown, this time over southern flounder and it now involves the North Carolina General Assembly.

On Aug. 20, 13 legislators, led by Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, sent a letter to Division of Environmental and Natural Resources Secretary Donald van der Vaart asking him to rescind the authority he gave to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission to “vote on stock-reduction policies that would have grave economic consequences to commercial fishermen statewide.”

The battle over harvesting southern flounder has been percolating for the past few years. Certain recreational fishing interest groups, particularly the Coastal Conservation Association, have called for a massive reduction in catches of the fish, including a complete ban on commercial harvesting.

Things heated up even more when a DMF-commissioned stock assessment of southern flounder released in January was rejected by a peer-review panel.

Read the story in The Outer Banks Voice.

Coast Guard releases boating safety app

The Coast Guard has released its first boating safety app as the kickoff to this year's National Safe Boating Week. The app will be available on the Apple and Google Play online stores. 
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The very best guide to charter fishing on the islands….WITH SLIDE SHOW

If you’ve never been fishing off Hatteras or Ocracoke, it’s definitely worth looking into.  The variety of trips, boats, captains, and species of fish available is quite impressive, and there are options that can accommodate almost any budget or interest.

That said, with so many options available, choosing the right charter can be a daunting task, especially for first-timers. To make it a little bit easier, The Island Free Press has compiled a guide to Hatteras and Ocracoke charter fishing.  With answers to frequently asked questions, information on everything from choosing a boat to cleaning your fish, advice on making your trip more enjoyable, and pictures to rouse your inner angler, this guide is designed help get you off the docks and on the water. 
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