I spent the first three days of the week doing nothing but fishing with the folks in Brunswick County, riding surf to pier and jumping from boat to boat with old friends and new. I barely slept for three days but it was well worth it.
It is the height of tourist season now and while the fishing is not what I’d call spectacular the fishermen are, locals and visitors, and good times and colorful stories abound.
I spent a good deal of the time on the Ocean Isle Pier. With the heat and frequent thunderstorms decent pier fishing is hard to come by, but I had plenty of small throwback snapper bluefish to keep me company.
I also caught a few small black drum and saw a really nice four pound sheepshead taken by Ron Slayman of Massillean, Ohio on cut shrimp. It was his first big saltwater fish and we had to hoist that sucker up to the pier by way of an improvised crab trap.
I tried flounder gigging by night with some old students of mine but the water was too muddy from the off and on storms so we settled on fishing at midnight tied up the Holden Beach bridge pilings. Nothing to keep but we put a hurting on the oyster toad population while returning the ugly (but kind of cute) slimy things back to the water unharmed. Still had a great night talking about old times.
I went back to Holden Beach to fish for a day on the free ICW pier they have there at the bridge. The county has really done nice with that little park…it is a model public facility and I hope they do the same thing at the recently torn down old Sunset Beach Bridge.
Lots of vacationing families were there fishing, helped out by the locals who mostly crab the pier and swap stories.
I caught plenty of spots and croakers using Fishbities bloodworms but most were below what I would consider eating size and the few nice ones I gave away. I saw Coreena Wareham of Black River, NY catch her first saltwater fish, a decent spot on cut shrimp.
Spent a good deal of time talking with the locals about the old time yellowed-spot runs in the fall, the kind we used to get but haven’t seen for years now. Maybe this fall will be different, but nobody there (except me, I swear) failed to comment on the gill nets we all see blocking off the creeks, inlets and beach shore-fronts once September rolls around, or how you can only find the big eating size spot at the fish houses now.
Went for a boat ride with an old buddy to the place where the little Sunset Beach swing bridge used to be and the big new bridge span is now operating. Fished the pilings of the new bridge but only got some throwback flounder on mud minnows.
The old bridge has been removed and is going to be saved as a museum piece, but the structure in the water is gone and I’ll always fondly remember the 30 plus years I spent catching nice flounder, black drum, redfish, and speckled trout at that old pier season after season.
One thing hasn’t changed, though. My old buddies the pinfish have adapted to the new bridge pilings just fine. Caught a few of the larger ones on some mud minnows just to say hi. Still as feisty as ever.
Also hit every one of the mostly vanishing shore fishing access places I could find south of Oak Island.
Saw one big black drum caught and kept throwing back little spot and croakers. Over all it was three good days of fishing non-stop. I was going to keep it up for a solid week but a death in the family had me headed back inland.
Still, it won’t be long before I’m back down at Brunswick County again fishing wherever there’s an opening and hoping for a better fall season than the last few. Great people and good times.
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