Thursday, February 24, 2005

Heading to Charlotte Tomorrow

The weather this winter has been especially bad. On the coast here, it's not the bitter cold that finally beats you down-it's the struggle between the allure and beauty of the surrounding bays, sounds, ocean and marsh and any protracted inaccessibility. This is my fifth winter here and by far the longest, most arduous and exasperating. Sunny days have been habitually windy and cold and warm day's are windy and rainy. This is the first winter down here that we haven't had a prolonged stretch of warm sunny non-windy days that allow you to get out in the boat and be comfortable on the water. It's also been the first winter that the fishing has come to a complete standstill. If you could get out, the only thing you would catch is possibly a spiny dogfish.
Most years the fishing here is a year-round proposition. The species arrive at a regular time and on a regular basis. You can tell that May has arrived not by a calendar but by the fact that the surf temperatures have reached the low 70's and the spanish mackeral are jumping everywhere. They remain along with the bluefish, flounder, red drum and everything else until mid-October when boats and captains from all over the east coast come to flyfish for the false albacore-a beautiful, but inedible lightning fast fish that peels line off your reel as if you had hooked a car on the interstate.
I've posted a couple of pics below this post. These fish are around and accessible until mid-December, replaced by the large striped bass and the much prized bluefin tuna. The striped bass are usually all over the shallow waters of the Cape Lookout shoals and an average fish will weigh about 35 pounds. I posted a pic below of one caught last January 1 that weighed in at 40 pounds. The bluefin can go as large as 500 pounds and can bring $12.00 per pound from Japanese buyers. One fish can make a great winter for a commercial fisherman. The drawback is that you need a large boat with the gear to land one of these beasts so it's primarily a charter captain's game.
January and February, most years are great for sightfishing for redfish in the gin-clear shallows and mud-flats and for speckled sea trout at the various rock jetties and back in the marsh. This fishing is usually good enough to carry you into the spring without sending you into fishing withdrawal. This year-nothing. I haven't heard of anything caught by recreational fisherman. A friend who fishes hard every day has come up 0-for-February. I have managed to keep busy building rods for some customers, some friends and myself and I'm off tomorrow to Charlotte for the annual Fly Fishing and Rodbuilding show. The show starts Saturday morning but I'm gonna meet some friends tomorrow night to see Pat Green at a place called Coyote Joe's. Live music, cold beer and lot's of it and poking around a convention center full of fishing rod components and fly fishing goodies-It's not fishing, but it's not damn bad either. See you Sunday night with pics. Have a great weekend

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