December’s weather is cooperating for coastal fishermen.
This past weekend produced mild temperatures that lured lots of people out to fish. The early-week rain slowed fishing, but the improving weather should bring back the bite just in time for another weekend.
“It’s beautiful down here right now. There’s a lot of people fishing on the pier and walking on the beach,” said Brian Gill, the tackle shop cashier on duty Sunday at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier in Wrightsville Beach. “The next few days are supposed to be rainy and nasty. The fishing should improve by Thursday. Any time we have a front and it gets rainy and stormy, the fishing gets better.”
Fishermen have been catching skates, rays, pufferfish and sharks.
Depending on the weather, the pier is expected to remain open during the holidays, and Gill said diehard anglers will aim for “the last hurrah for the season” at the eighth annual Johnnie Mercer’s Pier Dogfish Tournament from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 26. Entry costs $5 per rod, plus the $8-per-rod pier pass.
Keep on fishing: If you’re shopping for a gift for a fisherman, keep a coastal trip in mind. Gift certificates are offered by some charter boats, including the Carolina Princess, docked on the Morehead City waterfront.
“We offer a variety of gift certificates for the fishing opportunities – half-a-day certificates, 18 hours, 11 hours. It runs the whole gamut,” said Terrell Gould, captain of the Carolina Princess.
For boats all along the N.C. coast, search Google.com for “NC charter fishing gift certificate.” Buying gift certificates will help charter fleet members hit hard by the economy and the early closures of some fisheries because federal recreational catch limits have been reached. “The marine fisheries regulations really put us down,” Gill said.
Regular trips probably will begin again in March, Gill said, but the headboat is available now for charter for corporate outings. For details, visit carolinaprincess.com or call 252-726-5479.
Shark regulations: Refresh your knowledge of shark fishing rules by checking out commercial and recreational harvest regulations that go into effect Jan. 1. Learn more at http://portal.ncdenr.org.
Seasons: Commercial harvest of snowy grouper will close in South Atlantic waters on Dec. 19, and commercial harvest of red snapper and gray triggerfish is open Dec. 12-19. The commercial harvest of blue runner in federal waters of the South Atlantic has closed because the annual catch limit was reached. Learn more at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/news-releases.
Access area opens: The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently completed work on the Mann’s Harbor Boating Access Area of U.S. 64 in Dare County. Three new boat ramps, two new floating docks and a gravel parking lot are open. Learn more at ncwildlife.org.