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Outer Banks Angling: Spring into action

Finally, after one of the harshest winters I've experienced in a 13-year career on the Outer Banks, the weather showed some mercy and reminded us why we love living or visiting here. The snow, ice, rain, and wind gave way to some nice and steady springtime weather last week. The temps were mild. The sun was out, and people were able to play.

The surf was great and the local hotspots were dotted with surfers and boogie boarders, while the beaches were full of people, local and visiting, trying to get out and enjoy some sand time.

For Hatteras and Ocracoke, the fishing was inspiring.  
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Outer Banks Angling: Monsters

Puppy drum fishing from the surf has remained solid from Cape Point to the south end of Ocracoke. On most days pups are making the reports, and some days anglers pick at them and other days they hammer them.

Offshore the bluefin tuna have finally arrived and we’re talking about some "monster" fish for this area. There have been more than a few fish brought in weighing well over 500 pounds.  
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Marine Fisheries Commission tackles observer program funding, spotted seatrout, shrimp issues

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will submit a report to the legislature that proposes to fund the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Observer Program through commercial fishing license fee increases.

The commission endorsed the plan, which was brought forward by the commercial fishing industry and has the support of the Division of Marine Fisheries and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, at its meeting last week. 
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Outer Banks Angling: Puppy love

The Outer Banks has been inconvenienced by the snow storms and cold weather, but we have had little suffering to speak of.

And the surf fishing has been crazy good despite the weather. Puppy drum have been blitzing the shoreline from Oregon Inlet to Hatteras in numerous locations.  
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Outer Banks Angling: Stunned

Cold-stunned marine life occurs when fish or even sea turtles get caught in shallow water, in which water temperatures drop dramatically in a short period of time. The sudden, erratic drop puts the fish into shock. This drop can lead to a simple stunning of the fish or it can kill the fish.

And that’s what happened this winter. A sizable cold-stun event was recorded in well over a dozen places in North Carolina. The primary victims of this were speckled trout.

This led to a proclamation by the N.C. Department of Marine Fisheries earlier this week closing all speckled trout harvest to both recreational and commercial fishermen until June 15, 2014.  
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Waters close to commercial and recreational spotted seatrout harvest

North Carolina will close all coastal and inland waters to commercial and recreational spotted seatrout harvest at noon Wednesday and they will remain closed until June 15.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel issued a proclamation today closing all coastal waters after cold-stun events were confirmed on Friday and Saturday in several coastal rivers, bays and creeks. Cold stun events were confirmed in the Pamlico, Alligator, Pungo, Scuppernong, Trent, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers; Chocowinity, Blounts and Chadwick bays; and Slades, Bath, Cahooque, Hancock and Spooners creeks.  
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Outer Banks Angling: It's called winter

It’s been cold, nasty, icy, and snowy this month on the Outer Banks, which is a bit out of the norm. But it’s just what winter is  .
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Commercial fishing license fees to go up; for-hire, ocean pier license structures to change

The prices of most commercial licenses will go up March 1. The fees will go up by 25 percent, including the fees for Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses and Commercial Shellfish Licenses.

In addition, the for-hire fishing license and ocean fishing pier license structures will change later this year. Both licenses will change from an annual license from day of sale to a fiscal year cycle. Current licenses will be valid until their expiration date to aid in this transition.
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Jones leads effort to halt free trade agreement impact on U.S. fisheries

Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., led a coalition of House members in urging the Obama administration to carefully consider the impact of its proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement on U.S. fisheries and fishing communities. 

The agreement is widely expected to reduce or eliminate duties on imported fish products from countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan.  
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Outer Banks Angling:  It's about to get Wicked

A couple of months ago, rumors that the popular National Geographic (Nat Geo) reality show, “Wicked Tuna,” was coming to the Outer Banks to film began to swirl. Even in this small community, confirming this rumor was a difficult task.

Finally, we have a confirmation. Just last week the folks at Nat Geo made it clear that they were starting a new spinoff of the popular series and that it was being filmed in the waters off the Outer Banks.

"Wicked Tuna: North vs. South" will be filmed off the Outer Banks through March and will air in June.  
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Outer Banks Angling: Reflecting on 2013

2013 was a crazy year in the big picture and it just zoomed right on by. The fishing was incredible for inshore and offshore anglers.

Tuna and white marlin fishing was downright insane and yielded one great report after another for the fleets.

Puppy drum and speckled trout fishing was ridiculous this year. Just tons and tons of these fish made the reports all year long, and the puppy drum continue to do so. People love these fish and will chase them avidly inshore, from piers, surf, boat, and kayak.

The sea mullet and pompano fishing were great from spring through fall and lots of people will fish hard from pier and surf to put them on their dinner plates.  
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Coast Guard to intensify efforts to stop offshore poaching of Atlantic Striped Bass

The U.S. Coast Guard is scheduled to intensify efforts to stop offshore poaching of Atlantic striped bass this winter.

In an effort to ensure the health of the striped bass population, the Coast Guard is working to raise awareness of the federal regulations stating Atlantic striped bass may not be caught, harvested, or possessed in the Exclusive Economic Zone. The EEZ begins three nautical miles from shore and extends out to 200 nautical miles.
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Outer Banks Angling: The blitz

The puppy drum continue to charge the beaches. Without a doubt, they are the talk of the town. The puppy drum bite has been epic and those taking the time to pier, surf, or boat fish for them have been rewarded in a big way. These fish have been caught on bait and lures alike and at times--I've seen two pups on one bottom rig or double trout rig.

What more could an angler ask for in November?  
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Plenty of fish were caught in annual Anglers Club tournament ….WITH SLIDE SHOWS

The 56th annual Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament, one of the oldest tournaments on the East Coast, brought 120 teams of six anglers each to fish on Hatteras Island beaches last week.

And, by all accounts, the 2013 tournament was a good one, not plagued by some of the Highway 12 access issues after Hurricane Irene and Sandy or really awful wind and weather.

“A lot of fish were caught, and a lot of points were scored,” said Anglers Club President Larry Hardham. The teams caught a total of 1,166 fish for a total of 7, 687 points.  
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Outer Banks Angling: Outstanding … WITH VIDEO

We are now at the start of November and the weather has been absolutely outstanding. 
Actually, it has been one of the best fall seasons in the weather department I can remember.

With the area being plagued by hurricanes the past two years that left the Banks trying to scrape together a fall tourist season, it was nice to see such great weather this year.  
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Frisco man has state record golden tilefish

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries has certified a new state record golden tilefish. Rex Allen Bunting Jr. of Frisco caught the fish April 7 while fishing off Hatteras. The fish weighed 46 pounds. It measured 43 inches from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail and had a 29-inch girth.  
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85 drum are caught and released during NCBBA Red Drum Tournament

Despite the government shutdown that was threatening the success of the annual North Carolina Beach Buggy Association Red Drum Tournament, all turned out well. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches reopened a week before the event, and 262 folks participated in this year’s tourney.

Included in that number were 34 judges, seven junior anglers, 49 seniors, 19 females, and 16 winners from the 2012 tournament. They came from 18 states with Allan May from Dallas, Texas, traveling the farthest to participate.  
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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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